Last week we had dinner at Restaurant Jacobz with Koen and Erica. Ever since the restaurant opened a couple of years ago, I heard and read very positive things about Jacobsz, so when Erica suggested having dinner there, I couldn’t wait.
About the Restaurant
Rick Swinkels, Julius Busscher, and Adriaan Verkerk decided to give their popup-restaurant Staets a permanent home in 2016. They chose a stately, monumental building on the corner of Middenweg and Ringdijk in the Eastern part of the Amsterdam center. The building had historically served as a courthouse before turned into an inn (Herberg Het Regthuys), and Jacobsz is actually named after the 18th-century architect of the building, Caspar Philips Jacobszoon.
After a long period of vacancy, the exterior of the building has been renovated, and the inside was completely refurbished, now providing 3 indoor dining spaces, a cigar lounge, and a whisky bar as well as a private terrace along the Ringvaart canal. When entering the restaurant, 2 main large dining areas are on each side of the reception, where we were greeted heartily. Bars and wine stations are at the end of the dining areas with the wine cellar and the (concealed) kitchen all the way in the back.
Overall first impression: casual design, lots of wood, comfy chairs, and eye for detail: no linen on the table, but they do have bespoke woven napkins. The central part of our dining area consisted of tables for two, whereby some of the tables for four near the windows had also been converted by placing two guests alongside each other facing the dining area.
Offering good food for an honest price is what Jacobsz wants to achieve, combining contemporary and classic techniques in dishes that are influenced by exotic cuisines. Also, from a winelist perspective, they are offering both traditional wines as well as a selection of raw wines (about 30% of their wine list). They are doing well on all fronts as Jacobsz received 15.5/20 points in the 2018 Gault Millau guide and is prominently featured in their best value list.
About the menu
An ever-changing seasonal menu is offered from which you can choose a three-, four- or five-course meal (for €37, €47, and €55 respectively). The menu had plenty of choices with three appetizers, two entrees, three mains, a cheese board, and two desserts with always one vegetarian option available. The Chefs Menu, the six-course surprise menu (€59), can only be ordered for the entire table. Wine pairings are available and charged at their by the glass price (ours were €6,50 to €8). Judging from their wine cellar, many other wines are available both per glass and by the bottle.
We browsed over the menu over some nibbles (slices of chorizo, Padron peppers, homemade multigrain bread, and delightful lemon-infused butter) and a glass of Le Petit Beaufort Brut Reserve by Domaine Alice Beaufort, a very lovely natural Vin Effervescent from just outside the Champagne region (€9). We all settled on the Chef’s menu, with 1 vegetarian version, of course. Chantal was actually the only one getting a surprise dish as the rest of us just got the 2 of the 3 mains from the regular menu.
About the food and wines
We all thought that the food was very good, and they demonstrated spot-on cooking of the ingredients used. The chefs are definitely not shying away from experimentation but never went overboard, instead embracing the use of bold contrasting flavors and balancing everything with great sauces.
The descriptions of the dishes on the menu in just 3 or 4 ingredients do not adequately convey the complexity. For example, our dessert was simply described as “Rembrandt Apple, Walnut, White Chocolate” on the menu. However, when served, it became a lot more interesting as it was explained to us as “Rembrandt Apple, Apple Vinegar, Caramelized White Chocolate and Walnut Crumble, Walnut Ice Cream, Coffee and Black Pepper Infused Walnut Oil”. It tasted amazing and wasn’t overly sweet or nutty.
The wine pairings were diverse, and we got a mix of traditional and natural wines, which I personally still find to often smell a bit “off”, and all of them tasted great. Especially the Muscat dessert wine was an excellent pick, both on its own and paired with the food.
The restaurant was packed, and the atmosphere was inviting, joyous, and cozy, helped by the enthusiasm of the professional and attentive staff. We were one of the first to arrive at 7pm and one of the last ones to leave around midnight, but there were quite a few others that made it a full evening at Jacobsz. Definitely recommended!