Bolenius Restaurant*, Amsterdam (Feb 2017)

Come mid-February, come time to head over to Bolenius Restaurant* with Koen and Erica for lunch.

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We had the first proper snow this winter and were therefore welcomed outside the restaurant by these white Dutch palms (i.e. trimmed heads of kale)

This year we were a few days too early for the Valentine’s menu. When discussing this with Xavier Giesen, the cheery and ever-smiling host, he said that they would be doing that same menu again this year but rather on the day itself instead of the entire weekend before. Although it meant missing out on the spectacular dessert, returning for the same menu did not appeal to us. He assured us the regular menu is fabulous too, but that nothing much changes at Bolenius. Their approach to cooking (lots of seasonal vegetables and local produce) is the same. Since our last visit the ceiling got a new coat of paint, there were new rugs on the floor and they now have their first Michelin star, but that was pretty much it. 😉

We chose the 5-course Alliance Gastronomique menu (3 x regular at EUR 75 and 1 x vegetarian at EUR 65) with a specific wine pairing for that menu (EUR 9 per glass).

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After starting with a glass of Veuve Cliquot champagne (EUR 12,50) various amuses were served: Rettich filled with a black bean puree
Crispy bread rounds with braised red cabbage and fresh apple
Griddled salsify with lemon balm and lemon curd
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Followed by a mini ice cream cone filled with smoked raw beef sausage (“osseworst”) with an onion pickle ice cream
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Another amuse: A poached quail’s egg with a velvety sun-choke cream, vadouvan herb oil and roasted buckwheat
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The first course was the ‘Zuid-As’ Kitchen Garden: The delicious ingredients on these beautiful plates are mostly grown in their own vegetable garden 50 meters down the road. You do get a sealed card with the overview of 21 ingredients, so it’s a fun challenge to see if you recognise them. The dish was accompanied by a delightful 2015 Luzano Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore by Marotti Campi stemming from the Marche region in Italy
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The second course consisted of Fried scallops, mini pancakes, onion, bacon, grated chestnut and a kale oil
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The dishes were accompanied by a creamy yet fruity 2014 Savennières by Château d’Épiré from the Val de Loire region in France
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Instead of the scallops Chantal had some pickled vegetables and a big spoonful of slightly molten Messeklever cheese , a delicious soft brie-like cheese from the Beemster region situated north of Amsterdam
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The regular menu choice was this piece of Atlantic cod with razor clams, cockles, oyster foam and puffed quinoa crackers. This dish was accompanied by a Slovenian 2011 Burja Bela by Primož Lavrenčič. A dry white wine blend from rebula, malvazija, zelen and laški rizling grapes. An own import from Bolenius
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As I already had that dish last year, I decided to swap it for this very tasty dish from the à la carte menu: Langoustine with pickled red onions, yoghurt and celeriac jus. I was served a bold and mineral biodynamic Riesling trocken by Raddeck, from the Rheinhessen area in Germany
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Chantal had an interesting combination of both dishes: A slice of celeriac that was pickled for 2 days before being oven baked for 2,5 hours and then topped with maritime vegetables. As I had some of the celeriac jus left, she used the remainder giving her dish even more depth of flavour
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The main dishes were pretty much the same as last year, but no complaints at all as they were great and accompanied by these beauties
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Sous vide cooked Flat Iron Steak with a fabulously glossy red wine glaze and topped with truffle accompanied by chicory, “hete bliksem” (hot lightning, a Dutch potato stew with sweet apples, sour apples and onions), mustard seeds and black pudding crisps
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The main dishes were accompanied by an excellent Tuscan: the 2013 Piaggia Carmignano “Il Sasso” by Mauro Vannucci. Although this Sangiovese based red blend (70%, with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot) was still quite young, its cherry flavour and earthiness was an ideal pairing with our powerhouse dishes
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Chantal’s main was the pinnacle of earthiness: Bolenius’ famous clay baked beetroot with morels and jus of morels, mini croutons and truffle shavings
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We are total pushovers, so were easily convinced to have an additional course in the form of a Dutch cheese board (EUR 17,50) served with fresh raisin bread, dried fruits, jellies and a glass of 10-year-old barrel aged Tawny Port, a special blend by Taylor’s, Fladgate & Yeatman bottled in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of the Alliance Gastronomique (EUR 9)
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The Vegetable menu came to an end with this stunning dessert: A Blown Sugar Parsnip on Parsnip puree with Sugar beet ice cream and condensed milk caramel
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We had the “Five times lactose” dessert: caramel from condensed milk, cream, yoghurt, quark, topped with milk foam and grated truffle. Again, an unexpected yet great combination of flavours in this dessert which was fresh and not too sweet. I recall that we had a Hungarian furmint based Tokaji Aszú dessert wine as one of the pairings

Although we were at the restaurant earlier than last year, we still weren’t able to finish everything as Chantal and I had to pick up the kids. Koen and Erica were so nice to send us pictures of the goodies that were served with the tea…

As their menu changes with the seasons, we definitely need to go to Bolenius more often. Top food, wines and service!

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