Again, business does have its occasional culinary upsides…

As a conclusion of a recent very intense and time-consuming deal, my former boss and I were invited for lunch by our lawyers at Restaurant Bord’eau**. A lovely gesture and one to cross off from my to-visit list.

About the restaurant:
Bord’eau is the fine dining restaurant of Hotel de l’Europe, where the kitchens are headed up by Executive Chef Richard Oostenbrugge who – together with sous Chef Thomas Groot – joined in 2010 from Amsterdam Restaurant Envy as chef of Hotel de l’Europe’s Restaurant Excelsior. It closed in 2011 and reopened in 2012 as Bord’eau. Their first star was awarded in 2012 and the second was followed in 2013. Richard was awarded the 2014 Chef of the Year award by GaultMillau.

The cuisine is definitely refined classic French-based on seasonal ingredients, but with plenty of original modern elements and stunning plating. The mix between traditional and contemporary is also shown in the dining area, with waiters in coattails and white gloves but with stylized plates and cutlery. Luckily the monotonous 90s lounge muzak was drowned out by the chatter from the tables.

Update: Oostenbrugge and Groot quit by the end of 2017 and moved on to open their own restaurant in Amsterdam, 212, early 2018 (my reviews here and here). As from January 1, 2018, the kitchen of Bord’eau is headed by Executive Chef Bas van Kranen and the restaurant is down to 1 Michelin Star.

About the menu: 
For lunch, there was a choice of 3 to 6 courses from a set lunch menu (€48-€98), with an additional option to have a Dutch cheese board (€23). A la carte there were 3 other starters and 3 different main dishes that weren’t already included in the lunch menu. We opted for a 3-course lunch with the option to swap the dessert (Birch leaf Anglaise infused with toasted birch wood, birch juice consommé with birch vinegar) from something from the (separate) dessert menu.


The food:
Accompanied by a class of Billecart-Saumon champagne, we started off with 5 amuses that were served all at the same time.

Velouté of sea urchin
Dutch mussel with lemongrass jus and dill-calamansi crème
Dutch shrimps with XO sauce, remoulade of celeriac and horseradish
Razor clam with ‘soffritto’, Pernod jelly and clementine foam
Marinière jus of cockles with a liaison of Waddenzee oyster
Langoustine poached in Duckfat with “Katsuobushi Albufeira” and Coffee

Katsuobushi is fermented and smoked skipjack tuna (or in Bord’eau’s case tuna caught off the Portuguese Algarve coast) that is dried into in wood-like blocks. Thickly shaved katsuobushi and kombu  (dried kelp) are the main ingredients of dashi broth, a staple and essential basis of the umami tastes in Japanese cuisine. The finely shaved version is more used as a topping of seasoning and the proper/upscale version of more known Bonito flakes. They actually had the accompanying kezuriki, a specific wooden plane to turn the katsuobushi blocks into incredibly fine shavings.

The main dish was Holsteiner Dairy Cow, two ways.

Holsteiner Fillet, thinly sliced and served in hay consommé with lemon thyme oil and mushrooms
Holsteiner BBQ’ed oxtail with marrow, creamy polenta, and onion confiture
The pre-dessert was Bord’eau’s stunning signature Apple dessert. A blown sugar apple shell with a core from apple sorbet and pips from chocolate. It was served on a puff pastry ring base with salted caramel and apple balls marinated in lemon verbena.

For the “real” dessert, I was recommended by our host to try their Chocolate Bomb, aptly described as a dessert consisting of chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, and caramel. Needless to say, I was already sold at the second chocolate.

A 20cm orb of chocolate was presented
The hot caramel sauce was poured over the top of the dome, thus quickly revealing the remainder of the chocolate extravaganza.

The food was spectacular and delicious, really showcasing their skills in just a 3-course lunch. I was thoroughly impressed with the pure flavors of the delicate ingredients that were enhanced by sometimes very bold and contrasting flavors. And oh boy, do they know their sauces. I will definitely return here to enjoy dinner!

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