RIJKS* x Locavore, Amsterdam (April 2017)

I think that there were only 3 minutes between reading about the restaurant collaboration event between RIJKS from Amsterdam and Locavore from Ubud, Bali and booking my table…

We have been to Locavore before, so this was also the ideal opportunity to check out RIJKS* which was already on my to-visit list for quite some time.

About the restaurants:
Locavore, led by classically trained chefs Ray Adriansyah and Eelke Plasmeijer, create unique, inventive and modern European fine dining dishes based on hyper local sourcing of seasonal ingredients. We visited Locavore whilst on holidays in Bali in the summer of 2015 and were completely blown away by the food (and cocktails), even our kids loved all the food they were served. It was no surprise to me that their efforts were soon rewarded by a place in 2016’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants (at #49) and they were the biggest climber in the 2017’s edition moving on up to #22.

RIJKS* is the fine dining restaurant of Amsterdam’s famous Rijksmuseum. The restaurant is under direction of Executive Chef Joris Bijdendijk who worked among others as sous chef at Le Jardin des Sens*** at Montpellier, France. In 2012 he became head chef of Bridges in Amsterdam where in 2014 he managed to get the restaurant its Michelin star as well as receiving a personal accolade as Gault&Millau’s Talent of the Year. Joris took his current role at RIJKS as the Rijksmuseum reopened after lengthy reconstruction late 2014 and the restaurant been awarded 16 Gault&Millau points and got its first Michelin star in 2016.

On their site, the intro about the restaurant claims that RIJKS is the Rijksmuseum served up on a plate, telling the story about the Netherlands, its influences from countries far and near. They indeed adhere to that in the menu, the wine list has an abundance of wines from the Netherlands or from Dutch winemaker’s abroad and they only have Dutch spirits. Furthermore, RIJKS started hosting events every couple of months with renowned guest chefs, similar to a guest curator in the Rijksmuseum. The chefs they were able to get so far are pretty amazing as they represent top-notch restaurants all over the world:

  • Margot Janse (The Tasting Room in Franschhoek, South Africa (at the time #88)
  • Jacques Pourcel (Jardin des Sens*** in Montpellier, France, now closed)
  • André Chiang (André in Singapore, #14)
  • Tim Raue (Restaurant Tim Raue** in Berlin, Germany, #34)
  • Nick Bril (The Jane** in Antwerp, Belgium #74)
  • Virgilio Martínez (Central in Lima, Peru, #5)

About the menu:
This collaboration was a 3-day “quatre-mains” between Joris and Ray/Eelke and we visited for lunch. The 6-course lunch menu (EUR 77,50) was nicely balanced with RIJKS and Locavore each taking care of 2 of the snacks, 2 main courses and 1 dessert dish.

There was an option to have a wine/cocktail pairing for each course: 5 glasses being served of which 3 cocktails to go with the Locavore dishes and a white and a red wine to go with the RIJKS main dishes (all EUR 10 per pairing). I only had the wine pairings and sips of the cocktails as Chantal opted for the full pairing.

The food and drinks:
We started of with a glass of nice Delamotte Brut champagne (EUR 15 a glass) to accompany the 4 very diverse snacks (depicted clockwise):

  1. Locavore’s Rujak, Young Fruit, Tamarind, Cashews, Chili (Rujak is a traditional Indonesian tangy fruit and vegetable salad dish, now all in one bite)
  2. RIJKS’ Kohlrabi, Langoustine, Komboucha, Verveine (minus the langoustine for Chantal of course)
  3. Locavore’s Black Rice Blini, Smoked Egg, Crispy Rice, Purslane
  4. RIJKS’ Fermented Mushrooms and Umeboshi (Japanese salt plums)

The first course was for account of Locavore:

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“Let’s Call it a Ceviche”: Coconut, Fermented Sambal Matah (a Balinese raw sambal), Kalamansi (a hybrid between kumquat and tangerine), Oysterleaf
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The pairing was a Ketel One Vodka, Coconut, Lemon Grass and Lime cocktail
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Green Gazpacho, Grilled Avocado, Pomegranate

Next up was RIJKS. The wine pairing was a nice and crisp 2016 Riesling from Apostelhoeve (Maastricht, The Netherlands)

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Scallops, Cream of Oyster, Green Strawberry and Vermouth Vinaigrette
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Smoked Leek, Goat’s Curd, Pickles, Potato Crisps with Dill

A vegetarian dish by RIJKS: “Ode to Dutch Beans” followed.

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A fantastic combination of 30 different beans that are native to or have found their way to the Netherlands in the past 500 years. Served in a cheesy tartelette case and paired with a nice and fruity 2015 Pinot Nero from Niedermayr (Alto Adige, Italy)

Locavore took care of the main course: “Kambing”.

The dish consisted of 2 preparations of goat, being Sate Buntel (satay made from minced meat that is wrapped around a bamboo skewers or in this case a bone) served with a silky smooth Smoked Aubergine Puree and Nasi Bakar (spiced fried rice wrapped in banana leaf and which is then finished on a grill) and a Kalio (the final stage of a Rendang before the coconut milk has been fully absorbed by the meat) served with Atjar and “Ketchup”. Incredibly tender meat and amazing flavours!

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The pairing was a nice and smoky Bourbon, Pineapple, Rosemary, Thyme and Paprika Syrup cocktail
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Chantal had a Roasted Swede in Salt Crust, Old “Texels” Goat Cheese, Lovage and Blackberries
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Ray Adriansyah in action

The (pre-) dessert was for account of RIJKS:

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White Asparagus, Magnolia Ice Cream and Cress. Very interesting and nice choice of flavours, but in our view lacking a fresh note to balance the overall sweetness.

We concluded the menu with Locavore’s “Es Buah”, which originally is a Indonesian iced fruit cocktail dessert. It was indulgent whilst refreshing at the same.

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Condensed Milk and Coconut, Guava Ice Cream, Passionfruit, Mata-Mata (also known as Longan, Mata Kuching or Cat’s Eyes, a fruit related to the lychee)
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Paired with a Brandy, Passionfruit, Cloves, Vanilla and Egg White cocktail. By itself very nice, but combined with the dessert it overpowered everything.

We finished with coffee/tea with friandises (EUR 8 per person):

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Left to right, top to bottom: Black Walnut bonbon, Ginger Cinnamon Bread, Sugared Cranberry, Salty Fudge, Pumpkin, Rhubarb, Chocolate Kisses with pink pepper corns.

About the food and service:
The chefs and kitchen brigade clearly had fun in the kitchen during service and that clearly showed on the plates as well. The food was absolutely delicious, diverse, surprising and beautifully plated. With the first bite of the ceviche and sip of the Locavore cocktail, I could really picture ourselves back on Bali!

However, if you advertise it as a RIJKS x Locavore event, it is rather disappointing that you don’t mention at all that the 2 main courses in vegetarian menu are not from Locavore. As said, the alternatives from the regular RIJKS menu were very tasty too, but their pairings with the Locavore cocktails were far from ideal. Regular wine pairings would done them more justice. As such the pairings with their intended dishes were good, but we thought overpriced in relation to the rather skimpy quantities that were served: the dessert cocktail even came in a small liqueur glass with an ice-cube in it.

Hopefully, the erratic  – although very friendly – service can be attributed to it being the first service of the event. Knowledge on the dishes and ingredients seldom exceeded what was mentioned on the menu leaflet already on the table and the pace between courses and with the pairings was totally off. For example, we hadn’t even finished with the second snack and the third and immediately thereafter the fourth were served. The pairings arrived too early, too late, partially (only for Chantal instead of for both) or not at all (the digestive that Chantal ordered) which caused the bill to be incorrect too. It may have been the high bar set by having visited 4 other (multi) Michelin starred restaurants in the past month, but also from experience one should be able to expect a more seamless service at this level.

Enough nitpicking: on balance, the concept of guest chefs is great and RIJKS x Locavore event worked out splendidly from a food perspective and that still is the most important element. Looking forward to the next collaboration: Dan Hunter from Brae!

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