Restaurant 212 – Amsterdam (May 2018)

After ‘t Amsterdammertje*, the second installment of my Christmas present was at Restaurant 212 in Amsterdam.

Just after the summer of 2017, Richard van Oostenbrugge and Thomas Groot, the executive chef and head chef of Amsterdam’s Bord’eau**, announced that they would leave the restaurant to start one of their own. That became Restaurant 212 (named after the address Amstel 212) which opened in January 2018. I did see a few familiar faces in the staff and understood that in fact the majority of the current 212 staff had elected to join from Bord’eau.

It is Amsterdam’s first no-table restaurant. The completely open kitchen is surrounded by a wooden U-shaped counter – with cleverly concealed drawers with cutlery – which accommodates about 25 guests with very comfortable high chairs. This concept is a pretty bold move as every move in the kitchen is scrutinized. On the other hand, there is far more interaction and it was a delight to see the 212 team work throughout the lunch. Especially the egg yolks that were being filled with bisque and the sugar domes being blown for the dessert were fascinating to watch. However, whilst focusing on the antics in the kitchen, the waiting staff did manage to inadvertently sneak up on us from behind. That being said, the service itself was casual, but very attentive and friendly.

Their new venture does attract the attention of other chefs as we spotted Alain Caron as well as Stefan van Sprang (co-incidentally a former and current jury member of the Dutch version of the MasterChef TV-show) and his chefs from Aan de Poel**. Consequently, the number of chefs equaled the number of regular guests and matched the number of chefs in the 212 kitchen…

The menu is the same for lunch and dinner and consists of either 5 or 8 courses (EUR 108/138) and à la carte there are 2 dishes that are not already included in the set menu. We chose the 5-course menu. Although there are no vegetarian dishes mentioned on the menu, we had indicated our dietary preferences upon booking, so it was not a problem.

Besides the extensive wine list, wine pairings are available. Not fixed pairings for the entire menu, but rather a choice for each course between the “regular” (EUR 10-15 a glass) or “special” wines (EUR 21-36 a glass, mostly via Coravin).

Chantal and I pondered these possibilities over a glass of their brut and rosé champagnes by Paul Louis Martin (EUR 18). We decided to go for both wine pairings and swapped halfway and see which one was a better accompaniment with both our dishes. It did make the bill quite spectacular, but the glasses were filled generously. Even though the regular wines were already very good (also pairing well with the completely different vegetarian dishes!), we thought that it was mostly worth shelling out for the more expensive ones as their complexity did complement the dishes better.

In the meantime, we were served with the following amuses:

  • Dutch Shrimps | XO | Celeriac / Liquid shiso and chicken pie (with obviously vegetarian amuses for Chantal).
  • “Bonemarrow” Potato | Veal tartare | Marrow | Cream | Caviar.
  • Potato Ice Cream served with cream and “caviar” made from a Japanese amaranth type of grain.
  • Great bread (finished on their wood fire grill for a great smoky flavor) and butter.

From a culinary perspective, Richard and Thomas have expanded on what they were already doing over Bord’eau, so technically outstanding dishes with a lot of Japanese influences and great sauces. Needless to say, it was top-notch and compliments are due for the innovative vegetarian dishes that were served as they were not just “meat-free” version of the regular dishes. Highly recommended and I am sure that Restaurant 212 will get rewarded when the Michelin Stars are awarded later this year!

Below you will find an impression of the various courses of our lunch menu.

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1a. Crab salad with white asparagus and combava
Bisque in egg yolk | Asparagus-bacon broth
Paired with the 2016 Keller Riesling Hubacker Grosses Gewachs (EUR 27)

1b. Gelled Honey Tomato broth with Buratta
Blanched Honey Tomatoes | Tomato and Strawberry broth
Paired with the 2016 Keller Riesling Trocken (EUR 10)

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2a. Boiled ‘potatoes’ with crayfish
Tandoori sabayon | Robiola cheese | Chervil
Paired with the 2014 Jean Daneel Directors Signature (EUR 21)
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2b. Beetroot and Mustard
Mustard Ice Cream | Mustard and Raspberry dressing
Paired with 2014 Domaine aux Moines Savennières (EUR 12)
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3a. Langoustine poached in duck fat
Dashi Albufera | Coffee | Katsuobushi
Paired with a 2010 Meursault Potinet-Ampeau (EUR 25)
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3b. Glazed Garrot
Feta| Sesame |Ginger
Paired with 2016 Tua Riata Vermentino (EUR 10)
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4a. Anjou Squab with raw Cacao
Jus Salmis | Ambato Honey | Blueberry | Paté
Paired with a 2015 Francois Merlin Côte-Rotie (EUR 21)
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4b. Boiled ‘potatoes’ and Truffle
Robiola cheese | Chervil | Cep foam
Paired with a 2016 Tua Riata Rosso dei Norti (EUR 12)

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The cheese board was assembled in front of our eyes, so it was hard to decline a selection of 5 fine cheeses. I had a 2016 Savage Wines Syrah Grenache (EUR 15) as wine pairing and Chantal had a glass of Tawny Port from Van Zeller (EUR 7.50)

5. The “Cherries” dessert
Left: Cherry-umeboshi foam | Black olive | Crispy walnut
Right: Liquid Amarena | Smokey Bourbon | Citrus
Paired with the 2016 Kracher Beerenauslese Zweigelt (EUR 12)

Unfortunately, we were in a time squeeze (although we were 3 hours into our lunch) so we skipped coffee/tea and therefore did not have the accompanying friandises. The explanation on the bonbons given to our neighbours left us with the sense of regret as they turned out to be made by a former patissier of De Librije***.

Oh well, next time…

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