Koen and I attended one of the Brandt & Levie collaboration events last week: a test run of the – still to be opened – 101 Gowrie restaurant by chef Alex Haupt in Amsterdam.
About Brandt & Levie
3 young Dutch chefs were inspired to make great products from sustainably kept pigs, and after several apprenticeships in Corsica and Italy, they started off in the Netherlands in 2011. By now Brandt & Levie has a large assortment of top-notch pork products and charcuterie including inventive seasonal editions and collaborations with other butchers and chefs like Jonnie Boer of De Librije*** (blue cheese and birch sausage), and most recently with Joris Bijdendijk of Rijks* (goat and pork sausage with curry and tarragon).
For a couple of years, they have their own production facility just outside the Amsterdam city center, which also has an “Atelier” that houses workshops on how to make sausages and paté, as well as occasional collaboration events.
About Alex Haupt / 101 Gowrie
This one was a try-out for Alex Haupt’s own new restaurant, 101 Gowrie, which I understand is named after the address he grew up in Sydney. Alex worked at the renowned Dinner by Heston Blumenthal** in London, but he has already been in Amsterdam for quite a few years working in the kitchens of Ron Gastrobar Oriental as well as Hoofdstad Brasserie of the Hotel de l’Europe.
101 Gowrie’s address printed on the back of the menu (Govert Flinckstraat 329hs) is of the former Restaurant Wink, a great casual dining spot with a tiny kitchen. The host/sommelier had a penchant for unusual natural wines (minimal chemical and technological intervention) and wines that were made with very obscure local grapes. Wink closed down early this year as the owners decided to emigrate to the Banyuls region in France. The restaurant has been remodeled to house 101 Gowrie, which opened on November 27.
We were heartily welcomed downstairs with apple cider and an assortment of the Brandt & Levie charcuterie. With a select audience (only 30-ish couverts), we went up to the Atelier to enjoy dinner. The menu (amuse, 4 courses dinner, and tea/coffee for €42) obviously focused on Brandt & Levie pork, which was indeed present in all of the courses. Several wines, all from Italy, were available per glass and bottle, and also a wine pairing was possible (€28).
The natural wines of the Wink era will be even taken a step further by 101 Gowrie. Raw wines are natural, artisanal products from organic grapes, grown using traditional winemaking processes with as little human intervention as possible, and no artificial chemicals whatsoever. Thus truly “living” wines (vin vivant in French) are created and triggered a category on the wine list that was new to us: Orange wines. It sure was interesting to taste a white wine that closely resembled cider when sampled by itself, but the pairings with the courses were good, some even spot on.
Dinner-wise it was also an exciting mix. The good thing about test kitchens and try-outs is that the dishes aren’t supposed to be 100% yet and that the teams are genuinely open and interested to see what the hits and misses of the dishes were. The tricky thing of an all pork menu is that you can easily have overwhelming fatty textures and flavors in a dish. The balance wasn’t always there (yet), and some textural elements needed more attention, but overall, Koen and I were pleased with the flavors and combinations thereof. Especially the “hidden salad” course was very nice, so we are definitely interested to see how 101 Gowrie will turn out!