An eye on Amsterdam: Entourage Group
Published 05 November 2018
By Harry McKinley
Today Amsterdam is regarded as a vibrant centre of culinary ingenuity, but despite its prominence as a global travel destination, the Dutch capital was once considered somewhat staid in its restaurant offer. Widely credited with changing the city’s food fortunes and introducing a more progressive approach is Entourage Group. Founded by Israeli entrepreneurs Yossi Eliyahoo and Liran Wizman, its story began in 2008 with the launch of MOMO – an Asian fusion restaurant and bar that eschews listless dining in favour of sleek, high octane thrills. Quickly attracting an international audience, it was a significant catalyst for change, putting an emphasis on the social and experiential.
“MOMO put Amsterdam on the map,” says Eliyahoo, simply. “It was little behind compared to other cosmopolitan cities, and coming into the market as outsiders – by which I mean, not being from the city – helped a lot. In many ways MOMO is an ambassador of the movement that Amsterdam started, in terms of hospitality.”
Now one of the most prolific operators in the city, Entourage Group has gone on to develop a diverse portfolio of creative concepts - from fast casual to fine dining. And while these venues continue to shape the Dutch restaurant landscape, they are equally finding footing further afield, with the group increasingly taking its Amsterdam born-and-raised brands global.
Now de rigueur, MOMO introduced Amsterdam to the notion of shared fine dining, with an artfully conceived menu of Asian-fusion plates. Once considered groundbreaking for the city, it was also the first destination to take dining into a more social sphere, combining its 70-cover restaurant area with a lively, late opening, 20-seat bar. With a playful, but streamlined interior, it marked the group’s first collaboration with design studio Baranowitz + Kronenberg, a relationship that has continued across the bulk of its projects. Even as MOMO celebrates a decade since opening, it remains one of Amsterdam’s most distinguished restaurants and perhaps its most longstanding success story.
An elevated burger bar, The Butcher deals in what Entourage Group bill ‘haute fast food’. With characterful branding and distinctive, industrial design the original 18-cover restaurant on Amsterdam’s Albert Cuyp – in the hip De Pijp district – has spawned a plethora of offshoots, making it Entourage Group’s most fertile concept to date. As well as multiple locations in Amsterdam, including a food truck and a space at the Sir Adam boutique hotel, The Butcher can now be found in Berlin and Ibiza, with an upcoming opening in Milan.
Combining Japanese cuisine with South American influences, the multiple award-winning Izakaya echoes MOMO’s propensity for bringing a relaxed sensibility to sophisticated fare. The 111-cover Amsterdam original - with restaurant, bar and lounge areas - features a Chef Hariprasad Shetty-helmed menu of unconventional dishes and robata grill specialities – a traditional Japanese variation on barbecue. Izakaya’s Ibiza venue, at the Sir Joan hotel, has become one of the island’s most prominent dining destinations, with further locations in Hamburg and Munich, while 2020 will see the opening of Izakaya Milan as part of the city’s EDITION Hotel.
Developed for Amsterdam’s W Hotel, Mr Porter is a modern steakhouse and social hangout that blends refined, contemporary interiors with a Mediterranean inspired menu, overseen by Chef Ori Geller. Although providing all-day-dining for its hotel home, the restaurant is firmly positioned as an independent proposition, benefitting from rooftop views of the surrounding city. Central to the concept is a prominent bar area, that blurs the boundaries between ‘dinner and sinner’ and, as with Entourage Group’s other brands, places an emphasis on buoyant energy. A second location in Barcelona is slated for 2019, representing Entourage Group’s first Spanish foray beyond the Balearics.
With one Michelin Star, The Duchess is Entourage Group’s grandest destination – housed in an historic former bank and veering from the sleek modernity of its other brands in favour of traditional opulence. A complex menu draws from the south of France and Italy, with a highly conceptual cocktail offer inspired by the Roaring Twenties and 30s. The vast venue features a 94-cover dining area, 30-cover tearoom and 12-seat bar, with an 8-cover chef’s table in the heart of the kitchen. As with Izakaya, 2020 heralds The Duchess’s arrival in Milan, with the design phase, in partnership with B+K, already complete.