&samhoud places**, Amsterdam (July 2017)

Last week we had a farewell lunch of my former boss. Luckily, she also is a fine dining aficionado, so we celebrated in style at &samhoud places**.

About &samhoud 
It is a collaboration between chef Moshik Roth and entrepreneur Salem Samhoud based on their belief that good food is a way of making the world a better place. To reach and inspire ‘the world’ the fine dining restaurant &samhoud places also functions as a kind of food innovation lab from which &samhoud food was launched: a retail product line with vegetarian/vegetable-based products varying from microwave meals, flatbread sandwiches, the fabulous tomato-based burger ‘Tomeato’ and most recently vegetable/fruit-based ice popsicles. However, the &samhoud emporium also encompasses management consultancy, media and game development.

About the Restaurant, &samhoud places
Located on the Oosterdokskade, close to Amsterdam Central Station, &samhoud places opened in the fall of 2012 and had a lounge/bar downstairs and the fine dining restaurant upstairs overlooking the city centre. The restaurant immediately received 2 Michelin Stars, which initially “tagged along” with Moshik Roth, one of the leading molecular chefs in the Netherlands. This step was merited by the achievements in his former restaurant ‘t Brouwerskolkje** in Overveen – which closed in the spring of 2012 – as there was insufficient time for a thorough review of &samhoud places. However, its 2 Michelin Star status was continued in 2013 and has been maintained since.

Chantal and I had dinner there with friends in the summer of 2013 and we were really blown away by the ingenious, contrasting and sometimes seemingly clashing flavours (white chocolate and caviar, anyone?) and I frequented the international street food inspired lounge downstairs that was launched in 2014 a few times, so &samhoud places was on the “to-revisit” list for some time. When I got there, the street food lounge turned out to be transformed to the world’s first Virtual Reality cinema last year, obviously also a concept by &samhoud.

Luckily no changes in the restaurant: still intricate, delicious and picture perfect food and great service. As said, experiments and bold flavours aren’t shied away from, so this restaurant may not be for everybody. However, if you keep an open mind, you will definitely enjoy the culinary journey that Moshik Roth and his team will take you on! And that journey will take you all across the globe as the chef’s inspirations come from his many travels and he combines those new flavours with high quality produce primarily from the Netherlands.

About the menu:
Besides the à la carte menu, the restaurant offers an a 3-course lunch menu on Friday and Sunday only (EUR 64,50) and the choice between a Small 4-course or a Large 8-course tasting menu, both available in a vegetarian (“flora”) and regular (“fauna”) version (Small/Large: EUR 105/129,50 – EUR 145/169,50). We went for the small Flora and Fauna inspiration menus.

The food and drinks:
Whilst pondering the choices within the various menu, some small nibbles were served to kick everything off. A black olive madeleine, a small cube of spiced jelly made from vegetable and fruit juices as well as a refreshing cold tea infused with asian flavours, like pandan leaf, rice and coconut.

Those and below appetizers paired very well with the fabulous 100% pinot noir-based Silver Brut “zero dosage” champagne by André Clouet and an elderberry mocktail that was quite spectacular:

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LIMA: Vitelotte Potato / Amberjack Ceviche) / Avocado
LIMA (V):
Vitelotte Potato / Corn Ceviche / Avocado
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ALICANTE: Paella / Calamari / Shrimp / Saffron
KOH SAMUI (V): Foamed Waffle / Pad Thai / Peanut (no picture)
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SOFIA: Snejanka / Cucumber / Yogurt / Olive Oil / Salmon Eggs
COTE D’AZUR (V): Salade Niçoise 2017 (similar presentation)

Their staple, yet ever-changing, starter “The Perfect Egg” was also present. A slowly cooked egg (at 62°C for 1 hour and 15 minutes) this time topped with Ginger and Nutmeg foam and served with a butter baked baton of brioche topped with sea urchin and herbs (obviously minus the sea urchin for the vegetarian version):

After this great start of the lunch, we were quite pleased that the table was pretty big as the first seafood course contained 5 different plates and 3 of us had chosen it.

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1a. FROM OUR COAST… “KAISEKI”
clockwise: Razor Clams / Langoustine / Oosterschelde Lobster / Scallops / North Sea Crab

“Kaiseki” is the name of a traditional Japanese set menu of select food served on individual trays. It also refers to the collection of skills and techniques that allow the preparation and showcase such meals and therefore is considered the Japanese equivalent of ‘haute cuisine’. Kaiseki cooking prescribes that a dinner has (at least) 5 dishes with different cooking styles: an appetizer, a sashimi, a simmered dish, a grilled dish and a steamed dish. Here at &samhoud the kaiseki concept was combined in 1 seafood course: Crab as appetizer, Langoustine sashimi, simmered Razor Clams, grilled Scallops, and the cloche covered steamed Lobster. Very impressive!!

The other two opted for the vegetarian dish which had 2 “only” plates:

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 1b. BEETROOT (V) – part 1
Beetroot Tartare / Purslane
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 1b. BEETROOT (V) – part 2
Buffalo Yoghurt / Sauce Royale
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Our first 2 courses were paired with a very nice Burgundy white: a 2015 Mâcon-Verzé by Domaines Leflaive. They are widely known for their incredible Puligny-Montrachets and Meursaults, but used grapes from their 5 lots in Mâcon for this wine made in the same stlye as their top cuvées..
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2a. FROM THE NORTH SEA
Cod / Citrus / Angelica / Matcha / Corn
GIFT FROM NATURE (V)  Vegetables / Herbs / Flowers
  2b. GIFT FROM NATURE (V)
  Vegetables / Herbs / Flowers
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3a. “THE BIRD” GEORGES BRAQUE: 
Duck from Challans / Rhubarb

This third course was inspired by the art of French impressionist/cubist artist George Braque who made many works with birds in the 1950s and 60s. One of the other dishes – which wasn’t chosen by any of us – was inspired by Damian Hirst’s (many) early works with butterflies.

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This course was accompanied by a great 2010 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico by Monte dall´Ora and we kept it on for the dessert as it paired very well with the chocolate
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3b. RISOTTO (v)
Barley / Wheat / Du Puy Lentils / Pearl Barley / Breton Artichoke / Ramsons
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4a. JAPANESE VOLCANO 
Bitter Chocolate / Yuzu / Matcha / Shiso
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4b. SOFT & CRUNCHY
Fig from Calabria / Verveine / Coconut / “Schone van Boskoop” Apple

About 4 hours later, we finished this memorable lunch with coffees and an assortment of yummy sweets (chocolate truffles, passionfruit bonbons, eclairs, yuzu marshmallows and madeleines) and ended up as extras in a TV shoot about the restaurant for which Moshik Roth was interviewed. As we were assured that it was only to be aired abroad, we complied…

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