Restaurant Scherp – Middelburg (April 2016)

Last weekend we visited in Middelburg, Zeeland and took the opportunity to discover a  local restaurant with my brother and his wife as they made a booking at Restaurant Scherp.

The restaurant is spread throughout several monumental buildings in the center of Middelburg, thus creating a very long dining area. The modern yet warm interior changes from building to building, creating a slightly different atmosphere in each of the parts of the restaurant. A very nice touch!

Mart Scherp and his wife Dhani function as chef and sommelier respectively and they are member of the Jeunes Restauranteurs ‘d Europe (JRE): a collective of more than 350 restaurants and 160 hotels spread over 16 countries throughout Europe and Australia. These young restauranteurs focus on high-quality culinary craftsmanship with passion local traditions and produce.

Restaurant Scherp definitely fits in as it is an “allround concept”: meetings or private dining up to 30 persons can be held in one of the 2 room upstairs and they also have 4 B&B apartments, so you can stay overnight as well.

The cooking style of Restaurant Scherp is described as “refined and tasteful with attention to fresh fish and local produce”. This was nicely accentuated by these custom-made plates whereby one of the many folkloric costumes of Zeeland is recreated with local products: razor clams, mussels, oysters, beans, samphire and lamb’s lettuce.

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I had a little fun with the table lighting catching one of the “stikken” (the gold plates of headpiece)

Their menu consists of a set menus for lunch (2 courses, EUR 29,50) and dinner (3 courses, EUR 35.50) or 4, 5 or 6 course surprise “JRE” menu (EUR 45.50-62.50) which can only be ordered for the entire table. The regular menu consists of oysters (EUR 3 a piece), 5 starters (EUR 17.00-20.50) and 5 mains (EUR 24.50-32.50), desserts and a cheese platter. Wine pairings can be arranged at around EUR 5 a glass.

As expected there is quite of lot of fish and shellfish on the menu. Oddly enough, there are no specific vegetarian items other than a Chicken and Gamba dish that also could be turned into vegetarian option and a bag of (excellent) home made French fries 😁. They are open to offer a surprise menu for the vegetarians.

After an aperitif (champagne for the ladies and a Gin & Tonic for the gents), we decided to order à la carte. Afterwards, our waiter confided with a broad smile that we were the “most challenging” table of that night as we managed to order 4 different starters (chicken and gamba / scallops and truffle / smoked salmon / vegetarian chicken and gamba), 4 different mains (skate wing / farm duck / beef / vegetarian tomato dish) that were accompanied by 7 different wines.

These wines were very nice and definitely not standard choices: a beautiful red from Washington State, USA that went very well with my picaña steak, and they even served a an awarded local wine, a Schouwen-D®uiveland Blanc, an awarded Pinot Blanc from De Kleine Schorre Winefarm in Dreischor, the village next to where my brother and I actually grew up!

The food was good, everybody was quite content, but the vegetarian entree could have been better. It is always a bit of a letdown when restaurants serve meat substitutes you can get in the supermarket (even if it’s one of the better ones).

The service was good and knowegeable on both the food and wines as well as attentive: giving pointers on how to fillet the specific cut of skate wing and later on indicating that there is also a fillet at the bottom when they saw it was left untouched (we were completely stuffed). I was also notified that the rib roast mentioned on the menu was no longer available and asked if I was okay with substituting it with picaña and the waiter was also being able to correctly explain in detail which cut it is.

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The amuse: White asparagus cream with a foam of fat bloater (cold-smoked herring) and green asparagus
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The starter: Scallop and Truffle (Truffle vinaigrette marinated scallops with prosciutto, cauliflower, mature farmer’s cheese and potato crisps
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The main dish: Beef (Grilled picaña with mushrooms, (pickled) vegetables….
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… aerated tarragon mayonnaise, chicory salad and mature cheese churros

The à la carte portions were large, so we didn’t bother with desserts, but the home made friandises with the coffee and tea were quite satisfying too.

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From top to bottom: vanilla panna cotta, dark chocolate / macerated strawberry bonbon, white chocolate / passion fruit bonbon, coconut macaroons and turkish delight

Together with the appetizers (EUR 10 each), the 2 courses including wine pairing and coffee/tea came to EUR 75 per person. Although not very cheap, the food and service were very good and the portions ample, so overall recommended.

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