What: Restaurants that combine modern, refined preparations with seasonal (and often locally sourced) Dutch ingredients have, fortunately, caught on in the Netherlands’ capital, adding wonderful variety to the more traditional Dutch eateries and markets we highlight on these pages.
Where: In the course of our research on seasonal Dutch-inspired restaurants, Restaurant Utrechtsedwarstafel, the brainchild of chef Igor Sens and sommelier Hans Verbeek, was nowhere to be found. We heard of it only from a friend — turns out, most of the restaurant’s business is word of mouth. We almost hesitate to include it here, but it’s too damn good to keep secret.
When: Wed-Sat, from 7 p.m. The restaurant gives you a table for the night, so prepare to spend some time here.
Good to know: You can specify meal restrictions, including no meat or no fish, in advance of your reservation.
Order: The restaurant is menu-less, offering whatever fresh, seasonal goodies have been purchased that day — you choose only how many courses you desire (three to five) and whether you want “very good” or “better” wines to accompany them. Our three courses, preceded by a delicate duck rillette amuse-bouche, revolved around a main dish of tender roasted grouse topped with cubed parsnip, hazelnuts, and parsnip sauce, served on a bed of sauerkraut with potato-celeriac gratin (this meal was served in the fall). All of the seasonal root vegetables were locally sourced; the traditional game bird, no longer common (or allowed to be hunted) in these parts, hailed from Scotland; and the sauerkraut, of course, was a very Dutch touch. This was honest, simple fare dressed up with high-quality ingredients and an obviously well-trained hand, the centerpiece of a beautifully balanced meal further complemented by the Chorey-Les-Beaune wine pairing.
Courses arrive at a relaxed pace, with every glass of wine introduced by the sommelier and every dish hand-delivered and described by the chef — a manner of serving that only heightens the warm feeling that you’re a guest at a very special dinner party. As for the cost: We opted for the low end (€65 for three courses with good wine), but the highest you might go is €125 for five courses with better wine: well worth it in our book for a few dreamy hours here.
Alternatively: Among the more written-about modern, seasonal, and locavore-ish restaurants in Amsterdam are Bloesem, in Jordaan, and Restaurant De Kas, in Frankendael Park, which has the added bonus of being housed in a refurbished glass greenhouse flanked by its own nursery and gardens, from which it sources vegetables and herbs. Both of these restaurants are highly rated, offer tasting menus for €50 or less, and, while they don’t serve strictly ‘Dutch foods,’ they always incorporate seasonal, local ingredients on their daily-changing menus.