Stars à la Carte – Article

By Famke and Floor van Praag

Amsterdam is enjoying a culinary Golden Age. Michelin stars have been bestowed upon some two dozen of its restaurants, where reinvented Dutch dishes and edgy Asian cuisine are conceived at exclusive locations. The city’s historic canal houses, and even its world-famous museums, provide unique spaces for private dining.

Historical surroundings

The atmosphere of 17th-century Amsterdam imbues Librije’s Zusje, the restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria hotel that spreads across four historical canal houses in the heart of the city. This luxurious setting on Herengracht is the showcase for the high-level gastronomy of executive chef Sidney Schutte, a protégé of Jonnie Boer, whose own De Librije earned three Michelin stars for provincial Zwolle. Schutte rapidly rustled up two Michelin stars of his own and firmly established Librije’s Zusje as one of Amsterdam’s leading restaurants. In the charming, intimate dining room overlooking a courtyard, the chef’s unique creations are presented like exquisite miniature paintings. Signature dishes include foie gras and yuzu cream with tuna belly, crispy prawns and dark chocolate. Private soirees can be held amid the authentic Rococo decor and 18th-century frescoes of the Maurer Chamber.

The historic centre is also home to the elegant restaurant Bridges Dining. This one-star Michelin restaurant is located in the impressive building of Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam; once the City Hall of Amsterdam, but now a deluxe five-star hotel. At Bridges Dining, Executive Chef Andrès Delpeut is continuously looking for creative ways to establish perfection in his dishes; he uses international influences in his creations and gives them a unique, personal twist. Wine Director, Lotte Wolf, assures that perfect wine pairings are served to accompany the various dishes. A unique feature of Bridges Dining is the Chef’s Table. In the heart of the kitchen, you can have a look behind the scenes with a party up to 6 people and enjoy the magic of the kitchen brigade up close. Additionally, the private dining room at Bridges Dining is the perfect place to enjoy an intimate lunch or dinner with a party up to twelve people.

Across the city center on Prinsengracht, the distinctive Pulitzer Hotel comprises 25 17th- and 18th-century canal houses. Here Jansz offers a contemporary take on classic cuisine. For private dining, scale the imposing spiral staircase up to the Copper Chamber, a regal space with an authentic fireplace and delightful views of Keizersgracht, the Emperor’s Canal.

 Waterfront locations

Riverside dining is a Dutch specialty. In a curve in the Amstel, the Hotel de l’Europe houses the fabulous Bord’Eau. Here, the haute cuisine of executive chef Richard van Oostenbrugge has been repeatedly awarded not one, but two Michelin stars. In laid-back comfort, tables are graced with exceptional dishes such as eastern Scheldt crab with smoked avocado, duck’s liver steamed in kombu, and the signature house apple dessert. Private dining takes place amid dazzling city vistas, surrounded by exclusive wines.

Along the same stretch of water, La Rive at the majestic InterContinental Amstel enjoys an impeccable reputation thanks to culinary excellence, fine wines and sincere service. Executive chef Roger Rassin focuses on the French-Mediterranean kitchen, conjuring up tasting menus of five, six or seven courses, with fish, vegetarian and wine-matching options. Private dining is enjoyed at a large oak table in the separate Wine Room, a treasure trove of the world’s finest labels. You may also reserve at the Chef’s Table, and watch the action unfold in the kitchen.

Local and sustainable

An increasing number of international chefs seek inspiration closer to home. Amsterdam is no exception: why source your ingredients from foreign climes when there is so much quality produce on your doorstep?

Here Rijks, the restaurant at the Rijksmuseum, is leading the field. The kitchen of young executive chef Joris Bijdendijk uses products solely found within the national borders, such as duck, langoustines, flat Zeeland oysters, Dutch cheeses and vegetables from fertile local soil. Fittingly, the backdrop is provided by the Rijks Museum itself, awash with Dutch Masters. The stylishly furnished Rijks has been awarded a Michelin star, and selected as one of the world’s finest museum restaurants.

Vegetables to the fore

A new generation of leading chefs is giving vegetables an increasingly significant role. Chris Naylor, head chef at Michelin-starred Vermeer, part of the historic NH Barbizon Palace Hotel, serves an exquisite seasonal menu in which vegetables take the lead, supported by fish and meat. Delicious, hearty dishes are often prepared with local ingredients – even with vegetables and herbs grown in the restaurant’s rooftop garden. The charming space to the rear of one of the hotel’s four monumental buildings hosts private dining events for select gatherings. To see Chris at work, with extra dishes and wines thrown in, book a place at the Chef’s Table. Bolenius, in the Zuidas business district, also grants vegetables a prominent role, recently gaining a Michelin star in the process. At &Samhoud, too, head chef Moshik Roth throws the spotlight on vegetables. Alongside its à la carte listing, this modern two Michelin-star restaurant presents a vegetarian menu of sustainable, plant-based solutions, brimming with innovative choices.

Asian flavors

Cosmopolitan Amsterdam maintains its international focus and love for the flavors of the Far East. Fine examples are provided by the Indonesian kitchens at Mama Makan, at the spanking new Hyatt Regency, and the Blue Pepper, with its more modern culinary stance amid stylish surroundings. A special place in the city’s gastronomic heart is reserved for Yamazato, the restaurant at the Hotel Okura specializing in Japanese kaiseki cuisine. Back in 2002, it was awarded a Michelin star, the first of its kind outside Japan to achieve the accolade. The Okura is also home to Sazanka, Europe’s only teppanyaki restaurant with a Michelin star. Here, dishes are prepared at your table on a sizzling iron griddle – naturally, with utmost Japanese precision.

Contemporary design

The Conservatorium Hotel is housed in a monumental building that received the full treatment from world-famous architect Piero Lissoni. At this extraordinary design hotel bang in the Museum Quarter, executive chef Schilo van Coevorden runs the thrilling kitchen at Taiko, giving exclusive ingredients an Asian twist. Look out for crispy wasabi prawns with lobster gyoza, hamachi tartar with black truffle, and the ‘forbidden soup’, a Thai curry concoction with foie gras. The Conservatorium’s delightful Harmony Room hosts intimate dining occasions for large private groups.

With its exquisite, contemporary design, Bluespoon – the restaurant at the Andaz Amsterdam, Prinsengracht – echoes the sensational interior of its five-star surroundings created by the renowned Marcel Wanders. His unique style imbues every detail, right through to the plates upon which the chef’s creations are served.

This article is part of the magazine Amsterdam Luxury Selection dd September 2017.

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