We tried the ‘Choux voor Thuis’ food box a couple of weeks ago and were in for a treat!
About the restaurant
Choux is headed by chef Merijn van Berlo, known from 90’s Lof, La Cantine – his restaurant on the travelling theatre festival De Parade – and later from pop-ups Repéré and Foyer. He settled down in a fixed location in 2015 with Choux, a bit east of the Amsterdam Central Station.
Choux has a so-called vegetable-forward approach, although they also serve fish and meat. The way of cooking combines your regular (seasonal, local and organic where possible) produce with very creative and refined (French and Nordic) cooking methodologies; all focused on maximising flavours. And with critical acclaim: one plate at Guide Michelin, 15½/20 points from Gault Millau, and mentioned as being on the verge of breaking into the top-100 of the Lekker 500 list. They also have their own wine import company, Zuiver Wijnen, which unsurprisingly is dominated by organic and natural wines.
About the menu
Their monthly changing 3-course menu (EUR 37,50) is typically vegetarian but has meat or fish options for starter and mains, and you can expand with a second course (also vegetarian or with proteins; EUR 12,50) as well as a cheese dish (EUR 10). Yes, you read that correctly, not a cheese board for once! We chose all courses; all of them vegetarian except for my mains which was braised beef.
About the food box
When picking up the food at 3 pm, I decided on two bottles of wine from the Zuiver Wijnen assortment to go with the starters and mains. Come dinnertime, I unpacked the paper bag which had a menu card, a big chunk of bread (by Brood van Menno) with Choux’ karneboter (butter from fermented sour milk) as well as the paper and plastic containers with the food for the various courses. All colour-coordinated with additional green stickers indicating the vegetarian elements and the ones that were single portions.
The menu card also has a QR-code for the Youtube instruction video by van Berlo. At first, I was taken aback by the fact that it was over 30 minutes. Still, the helpful chaptering (introduction, preparation and plating section for each of the courses are) makes it super simple to skip to the relevant menu sections or re-watch any of them if you missed something. The video itself was great fun to watch: a relaxed atmosphere with easy to follow instructions and loads of information on the products used. As they say themselves: “Don’t worry, it’s vandal-proof!”.
A great sense of humour as well; I cracked up at the #teringveelzout sticker on the induction hub, indicating the use of copious amounts of salt to add to boiling water. The instruction video is entirely in Dutch, so I didn’t get that they showed the guidance for pre-heating the oven in English.
When I took the containers of the main course out of the fridge, I suddenly noticed that there was only one colour left, and therefore was missing our cheese courses. After a quick call to Choux, they indeed had two portions left at the restaurant with no way for them to piece together who was missing them. Solved with a quick drive back to the restaurant, I was offered the extra second courses as compensation for the hassle, but we just had it (yum by the way!!) and it was a bit overdone to eat two of them. Instead, I got a bottle of homemade vegetarian garum (prepared by their koji starter and egg whites) which you can use as a condiment or a replacement for soy sauce.
Typically, I only mention the titles of the dishes mentioned on the menu, but that would not correctly convey the Choux dishes’ intricacy. For example: “Koolrabi with Kelp Mayonnaise, Summer Pickles, Gooseberry, Currant Wood” actually is “Koolrabi with kelp en sea lettuce, smoked kelp mayonnaise, summer pickles tapenade (from white strawberries, unripe blackcurrants, pine blossoms, spruce tips, semi-dried tomatoes, and horseradish), daikon, finished with a vinaigrette from gooseberry juice, fermented tomato and oil from the leaves of the blackcurrant bush”.
Yup, a lot was going on, but everything was quite harmonious, inventive, and tasted great, as did the wines. Besides a saucepan, a pot with heavily salted water to reheat elements, and an oven tray, there were no other kitchen tools needed to assemble the dishes. Overall highly recommended!