The fourth and last instalment of our November fine dining food box month, Restaurant Daalder.

About the restaurant

Daalder is the restaurant by chef Dennis Huwaë, who worked in various restaurants in Amsterdam, before he started – at the age of 20 – in the Okura Hotel in Amsterdam in 2000. He eventually ended up in its restaurant Ciel Bleu**. After six years – and a training period at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck*** – he joins Brouwerskolkje** in Overveen to work under executive-chef Moshik Roth. When Roth starts (the now sadly defunct) &Samhoud Places in Amsterdam in 2013, Huwaë follows his steps, and they soon got awarded 2 Michelin stars.

In 2016 Huwaë leaves to start on his own restaurant, Daalder. In August 2019 he started the sister-restaurant Edel by Dennis (named after the Edel building which historically housed jewellery workplaces) in Amsterdam. GaultMillau lauded Huwaë as Most Talented Chef of the Year 2018, and the current ranking of Daalder is 16/20 with 3 chef’s hats. Most recently, Huwaë ranked #96 in the worldwide Top 100 of The Best Chef Awards 2020. Therefore, it came as a bit of surprise that Daalder currently only has a 1 plate ranking in Guide Michelin, which does applaud the outstanding value for money.

About the foodbox menu

You can order the Thuis met Daalder food boxes via their website all week with pickups at the restaurant (Amsterdam City centre; Lindengracht) from Wednesday through Sunday. If you want to also pick up on Mondays or Tuesdays, you can do that at Edel (Western part of the city centre; Postjesweg) or the only non-Amsterdam pickup point: Restaurants Dylans at the Alexander Hotel in Noordwijk. Home delivery in the Netherlands is also possible for Thursday through Saturday. As Daalder itself was rather difficult to reach due to roadworks, I got a courtesy call and could pickup our order at Edel.

The normal Daalder food box menu has 6 courses (including bread, amuse and bonbon) and sets you back €59. Chantal had the 5-course vegetarian menu and Koen, Erica and myself had opted for a special edition 5-course menu which was a collaboration with former Dutch international football player John Heitinga, showcasing 5 of his favourite Daalder dishes and ingredients. Both these menus were €59, with 3-courses also available for €39. They also offer a 3-course kids menu (tomato soup as a starter, then chicken, potatoes and apple sauce and a chocolate lava cake as dessert) for €18,50.

We didn’t care for the addition of 30g or 50g Persian Caviar (€60 and €90 respectively). Still the option on the original Daalder menu to swap duck with 70g of A4 Wagyu (€35) did inspire Koen to go and fry our own Wagyu sirloin steak. As an addition to our beef fillet, of course…

We expanded our order with bread (bake-off in the oven for 8 minutes) and home-made compound butter (€3,50). We also ordered cheese boards supplied by Bourgondisch Lifestyle (€8), which had a selection of 5 pieces of cheeses. We also ordered friandises to conclude dinner (€6,50)

About the foodbox

The Thuis met Daalder foodbox had 6 compartments with all the ingredients for each of the courses. The printed menus, explanation on the cheeses, and QR codes for a Spotify playlist and the cooking instruction videos and a candle were included. The vegetarian menu was in a separate box which also contained our additional orders.

It seems that they were either in between vegetarian menus or out of ingredients, as what was in the box didn’t match the website or printed menu. Chantal had gnocchi as 3rd course (instead of the fregola mentioned on the website). As a dessert, she had the same cheesecake from our menu instead of the chocolate lava cake mentioned on both the website and printed menus.

Being able to compare with our three previous ones, the Daalder food box had one a practical drawback. The cooking instructions of the dishes are unfortunately only available via the Youtube videos which featured Dennis and for some John Heitinga.

As such, the videos have all the necessary information. Still, you do have to watch each video – which were between 2 and 11 minutes each – before understanding what needs to be done and actually start cooking each course. And in our case, we even had to watch 9 videos, which turned rather time-consuming.

Without labels on the various containers, oral instructions like “add the contents of these two containers to the beef” proved to be rather confusing, especially as our packaging was slightly different from those used in the videos. Consequently, we had to rewind the videos quite a few times to verify ingredients or instructions. Including a printed version of the instructions would already greatly improve the cooking experience.

The preparation and plating of the dishes themselves were quite easy. Besides your oven and some pots (to reheat sauces, cook the various kinds of pasta) and pans (to fry the brioche croutons and beef), the only specific kitchen tool needed for the plating was a food round for the steak tartare.

The food

The food was great; the Steak Tartare and Pumpkin with Mole were the respective favourites. The only small downsides were a relatively runny mushroom sauce which didn’t cook down sufficiently before the fregula was fully cooked. The compound butter, which was laced with green herbs wasn’t our cup of tea. The herbs didn’t really stand out but were enough to overpower the flavour of the butter, so overall it was a bit bland. We were enthusiastic about the bread from Bakkerij Kaandorp though. Without the butter, these huge loaves proved ideal for mopping up the various delicious sauces and oils. Thus, clean plates all over!

1a. Classic Steak Tartare / Brioche Toast / Duck’s Liver / Crispy Onion
1b. Daikon Salad / Tofu / Shiso Dressing / Seaweed Crunch
2a. Cod / Tandoori / Jasmine Flowers / Roasted Bell Pepper
2b. Ravioli / Cabbage / Vichyssoise / Sprout salad
3a. Fregola ala Sardina (alla Sardegna?) / Forest Mushrooms / Parmesan / Sage
3b. Gnocchi / Cauliflower / Vadouvan / Gruyère / Herbs
4a. Beef fillet / Black garlic / Colombo Crunch / Rendang Jus / Black Truffle
4b. Pumpkin / Mole / Kumquat / Quinoa / Herbs
5. The Cheese Board (clockwise starting top left)
Saint-Maure de Touraine (Goat’s cheese from the Loire region in France)
Camembert (The white flora classic from Normandy, France)
Le Lorrain (Munster type of Lorraine, France)
Remeker Pril (A Dutch raw milk natural crust cheese, matured 2-3 months)
Cabrales (Blue cheese from the Picos mountain region in northern Spain)
Very nice cheeses, but especially Le Lorrain and the Cabrales proved not for the faint of heart!
6. Cheesecake / Bay leaf / Hennessy / Pear
The friandises on the left (€6,50) were great as well: a white chocolate covered almond, a bonbon with coffee filling as well as a chocolate salted caramel.

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