Dinner at Restaurant Foer provided a superb fine dining experience.
About the restaurant
Restaurant Foer opened early November 2019 and is owned by Maître Juriaan van der Maarel and Chef Steven Broere.
Van der Maarel previously worked at Restaurant Rijsel in Amsterdam. In contrast, Broere mainly worked abroad at Chambre Séparée* (Ghent, Belgium) and, most recently, a 2-year stint at Restaurant Kadeau* (Bornholm, Denmark) before he returned to Amsterdam. They met early on in their careers at Fa. Peekelharing and presented with the opportunity of starting their own restaurant just outside of the city center (Cruquisweg 9, Eastern Docklands) in a fully detached building with a garden and possibility of 2 terraces in the summer, they jumped right in.
The name of the restaurant comes from the Dutch verb ‘Foerageren’, which means ‘to forage’: collect food from nature. Consequently, Foer has an entirely seasonal menu with locally sourced ingredients (some vegetables and herbs, of course, from their own garden). Broere honed his fermentation skills, which feature in almost all the dishes and even in beverages. Depending on the season and the stock of fermented ingredients, parts of the dishes may change overnight, but the menu will, in any case, get a full overhaul every 2 months.
Behind the 5-meters long marble ‘chefs table’ overlooking the open kitchen, the other eye-catcher undoubtedly is the 2 square meters of open wood fire in the back. The absence of a visible regular stove is also striking: some portable induction hobs for sauces and a large oven are the only other equipment that you can see. The fire pit has several racks that can be adjusted in height to “control” the heat, and pretty much all ingredients get prepared, grilled, or smoked over that fire. The interior has lots of wood (not just the stacked logs for the fire pit), white, and earth tones. Nordic-style basics and candled adorned the tables, which came with surprisingly comfortable wooden chairs. Obviously, the entire restaurant had a comforting and homely smell of a roaring fireplace.
About the menu:
The menu is easy. The first decision to be made is whether you want 5 or 7 courses (€55 or €64), and then you need to choose if you will go entirely Vegetarian (the Flora menu) or with a couple of meat and fish dishes (the Fauna menu).
There is no cherry-picking between these menus, but you do have refreshing flexibility with the beverages. You can either select fixed Wine or Juice pairings (3 or 5 glasses) or pick per course from the 6 suggested wines or 5 juices for either menu (all of them are €7 per glass). So throughout the evening, you can switch between suggested pairings, bottles from the wine list, and no/low alcoholic drinks. The latter is not just limited to fruit juices, by the way, as Foer also makes their own fermented beverages like kombucha, kefir, or kvass. The interesting list of bottles of Old World wines had many affordable options, including a ‘vin naturel’ section.
About the food:
We had 1 Flora Menu with the Juice pairing and 5 Fauna Menus. With 5 persons drinking wine (of which 1 only white), it was more economical to order whole bottles of wine based on the suggested pairings (we did for mains and dessert) or on our own preferences.
The food presentation was stripped-down, just 3 or 4 elements on the plate, no-frills. The portions are not very big, so occasionally they had us longing for more of the delightful food. The dishes are generally very light, so even with the various nibbles in between, the 7 courses were quite manageable.
Always some interesting smokiness from the open fire, creative ingredients and a wide array of fermented elements that gently push the dishes in surprising directions. Many of them were finished with delightful broths and sauces.
We weren’t entirely blown away by the first dish (just a tad too acidic with all the different types of fermentation) and the pre-dessert (the malt was overpowering), but we immensely enjoyed the rest of both menus. Hats off to the waiting staff and the creativity in the Juice pairings. The oaked blueberry juice was considered the “best non-alcoholic wine substitute” ever.
With the coffee and tea, we got some Anisschnitten (aniseed crispbread), based on a recipe from Van der Maarel’s Swiss grandmother, served with honey crème fraîche.
A delightful end to a great evening!