The second instalment of our November food box month was from Restaurant Triptyque.
Triptyque is the new restaurant of Niven Kunz who trained in Dutch restaurants like De Bokkedoorns** and Jonnie Boer at De Librije***. In 2006, at 24, he became head-chef of ’t Raethuys in Wateringen, just a bit south of The Hague, and received his first Michelin star that same year. Kunz worked there until early 2009, and, after a short stint back at De Librije, started his own restaurant, Niven, in neighbouring Rijswijk in September 2009. Again, he managed to receive a Michelin Star in his first year of operation and maintained it since (so 15 years straight). Their most recent GaultMillau rating was 16/20 with 3 Chefs Hats.
Unfortunately, Restaurant Niven was one of the first culinary victims of the COVID-19 in the Netherlands. It was declared bankrupt early April 2020, with the curator citing problems due to reduced reservations as well as the following mandatory 6-week lockdown for restaurants in the Netherlands. However, in August 2020, Kunz and his girlfriend Virginie – who also did the interior styling of the restaurant (which looks great!) – started Restaurant Triptyque in the old location of ‘t Raethuys in Wateringen.
From the start, Kunz’ cooking philosophy was to focus on local and seasonal sourcing of ingredients as well as the primary use of vegetables. Proteins are complementary elements; the 80/20 from the title of his own cookbook from which I will post a surprising dessert recipe soon. Restaurant Niven won the Best Dutch Vegetable Restaurant accolade five years in a row (2013 through 2017), and the 80/20 approach carried over to Triptyque.
About the Foodbox
From the above, it should not come as a surprise that Chantal and I both opted for the 4-course of Triptyque’s Groenten Thuismenu, their vegetable food box menu which was €45 that week. The regular 3-course menu (vegetarian or 80/20) was €35, and both include a beautiful lavender, honey and sea salt topped brioche loaf. We also ordered one cheeseboard (€12,50) to share. Not depicted, but for the kids, we also ordered some sweet stuff: one molten lava chocolate cake with mango compote (€9,50) that we just needed to bake-off in the oven for 8-9 minutes as well as a slice of home made Boterkoek (€2,50), a sinful Dutch specialty which can be compared to a dense, buttery Scottish shortbread.
We picked up food box in the restaurant in Wateringen (orders for same-day pick-up on Thursday, Friday and Saturday are possible until 2 pm!) and the two boxes were filled with individual containers; all of them compostable or recyclable. The containers had coded labels corresponding to the preparation steps of the various courses. The number of containers was a bit intimidating, but the inventory list was helpful as it also indicated which of them needed to be stored in the fridge. The only drawback was that sometimes it was not entirely clear if the containers were portion packs or intended for two servings. It sometimes left me scouring the fridge for a second container of an ingredient that wasn’t there. Nice attention to detail: herbs wrapped in wet paper towels to keep them as fresh as possible.
All directions were clear, and for the cheeseboard and molten lava chocolate cake, there were separate leaflets with explanations and cooking directions. We needed the usual kitchenware like an oven to bake off the breads, and some pots and pans (saucepans for reheating the pasta, truffle jus, and quinoa and a small frying pan to sauté the mushrooms and the beets in some butter) and a stick blender for foaming the truffle jus. The only more “exotic” items was a cooking ring for the moulding the base of the quinoa salad (luckily I had one for frying eggs).
We loved our menu from start to (almost) the finish. A delightful brioche, a nice alternative to the obligatory bread. The pumpkin pizza with the horseradish cream was an amazing and interesting starter. The pasta was a well-executed combination of classic flavours, so you can’t go wrong there. The salad was, however, simply the best quinoa dish we ever had! The nuttiness from the black quinoa, sweet figs, smoke and acidity from the two preparations of beetroot and unctuous and tangy richness coming from the violet mustard crème. An unbelievably well balanced and tasty dish… It was followed by the cheeseboard with a solid assortment of cheeses and accompaniments.
After that, the dessert was (relatively) a bit of a letdown. It was good, but not on par with the rest. The bread crisp was nice, but rather thick and dense and therefore quite hard to eat without making a mess. The chocolate mousse was tasty, but the brownie bits, nougatine and honey, were layering sweet on sweet and we were missing some fresh elements. Even the kids thought it was a bit too sweet, which is a rare feat…
Nevertheless, in the end, clean plates all over, so get it while you can or visit when Triptyque opens again!