This weekend we celebrated Chantal’s birthday with a lunch at Coulisse.
About the restaurant
Tim van der Molen and Simon Witmaar, both late 20s, have started their restaurant Coulisse in July 2020. It was one of the most anticipated recent openings in Amsterdam, and not only based on their backgrounds.
Tim (head-chef) worked at Durgerdam’s Vuurtoreneiland (a woodfire kitchen restaurant in the Markermeer only accessible by boat; it’s located in a greenhouse in the summer and a fort in winter) and recently returned from a stint at Copenhagens Noma**. Simon (maître-sommelier) has spent his career in the Sergio Herman emporium. First at Oud-Sluis*** and then The Jane** in Antwerpen, with Nick Bril at the kitchen’s helm and most recently At Pure C** in Cadzand with Syrco Bakker.
Coulisse aims for easy fine dining: luxurious, yet no-frill food served in a casual Nordic design setting. So no pressed linen on the plain wooden tables, but understated design with loads of earth tones and natural products, all courtesy of Studio Piet Boon.
The location itself is also one of the attractions. It basically is the foyer of the former Werktheater on the Oostenburgergracht, at the eastern part of Amsterdam’s city center. The kitchen is in the former entresol cloakroom. The formidable high-ceilinged dining room (normally 50 seats, currently reduced to 30) has two stairs at the sides leading to the former theater hall which is obscured by a velvet curtain, of course. There you also have a couple of tables that overlook the dining hall. The neon sign for the artist’s entrance is still there, so they succeeded in honoring the building’s character.
About the menu
Coulisse doesn’t do à la carte, but they have a fixed 5-course menu which will set you back EUR 65. The fixed 4-course lunch menu is currently offered on Saturday only and is EUR 47,50. You can expand your meal with a daily special, both for the regular and vegetarian menu. Besides the extensive and rather classic European-only wine list, you can opt for wine pairings (EUR 42 or EUR 22 for halfsies) or non-alcoholic pairings with mostly housemade drinks like kombuchas, infusions, and juices (EUR 34). I should note here that Coulisse does charge a EUR 25 deposit per person upon reservation.
About the food
Similar to my earlier visit to (nearby) Restaurant Foer, the nordic cuisine influences are clearly present at Coulisse. Seasonal, sustainable local-produce dishes, many grilled, prepared with French, Thai, and Japanse touches, as well via preserved, pickled, and/or otherwise fermented elements present in all dishes. Everything cooked to perfection, but the best thing is that the dishes all have surprising elements (like the use of different kinds of peppers, edible flowers, angelica, and capers made from elderflower buds), while remaining fully balanced.
We both had halfsies wine pairings from Italy, France, Spain, and Germany, which proved to be a perfect match with both our meals. Serving a dry sherry with the Cepes and Truffles dish was a very pleasant surprise.
The service was great yet relaxed as well, adding to the laid-back ambiance. Kudos to the background music which was a good, non-obtrusive, volume and far from repetative; it varied from soul, hip-hop to even Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water!
Much to our amusement, it will remain a mystery how Chantal’s “vegetarian” dietary restriction that I entered when booking online somehow ended up on their table list as “pregnant”. We did expand our lunch with the daily specials, but definitely no food baby afterward!
Overall, highly recommended!