The Netherlands always felt like my second home, and the direct and occasional brusque nature of the Dutch seems refreshingly honest (and sometimes too honest), and generally they do mean well. In terms of cuisine, after the opulent, golden age of the Dutch colonialism, the grand meals as such were reduced to more simple and utilitarian means, such as the humble hutspot met klapstuck, or braised beef and mashed potatoes with carrots and onions. That said, I’m crazy over stroopwafels (caramel waffles) and it’s one of my various if not too many vices.
Dutch cuisine has been experiencing a revival with the rise of local cuisine using the wonderful produce the land has to offer, and chefs rocking the culinary world, such as Sergio Hermann of the now defunct Oud Sluis, and Jonnie Boer of de Librije, both awarded with the coveted three Michelin stars. I managed to experience some of the restaurants in the Hague and Rotterdam, but never did quite venture any further than that besides hunting for Rijstafel or Sui gao shrimp dumplings in Amsterdam. But now that I’m back, it’s time to do it proper justice. First on the menu, is Bolenius, which is a One Michelin starred restaurant in the Financial district of Amsterdam Zuid, or also known as Zuidas.
The place is located nearby the Amsterdam Zuid station, which also houses various corporate offices such as Google. The restaurant has the typical white table-cloth sort of dining establishment, and packed with business folk who were doing their power lunches. I had opted for the lunch menu plus an additional white asparagus spaghetti dish.
As usual we started off with the obligatory amuses, which were white asparagus with coffee and hazelnut, lettuce with yoghurt, and radish with fennel. All very clean flavours, and I was surprised by the unusual combination of white asparagus with coffee and hazelnuts, which had a good balance of sweetness, slight bitterness and nuttiness.
For the first course, was dubbed the “White Gold”, which was a moniker given by local for white asparagus as it was highly valued and obviously very delicious. This was chopped white asparagus that was enveloped by a beautifully ethereal white asparagus cream, the latter of which feels like a cloud which dissolves in your mouth.
The chef also has his own vegetable garden by the restaurant, and served us a beautiful array of 20 vegetables from it. All the components were well cooked, with the white bean puree binding the components together, and there was a hint of star anise that lingered pleasantly. But what truly lifted the dish was the dab of rhubarb on side, which provided some acidity and freshness to the cooked veggies.
Now, this was the additional dish in the menu, which was spaghetti carved from white asparagus and served with cockles and fennel. The texture of the white asparagus was surprisingly “al dente” without any rawness to it. This was nicely paired sauce of white asparagus, the saltiness of the cockles, and crunch of the fennel. A masterful prepared dish with great finesse.
For the main course, it was Skate with fried anchovies and shallots, eggplant puree, and green herb oil. The Skate was well cooked and had a good texture, but the saltiness from the anchovies was perhaps a tad overwhelming, and the dish could have done with less of it.
For toetjes or dessert, was a specialty from Limburg in the Netherlands, which is some variant of vanilla cream tart with edible paper on top. As usual, the quality of the cream in the Netherlands is amazing, and this was a very satisfying way to end the meal.
Overall, the dishes were mostly on point with the exception of the over-salted Skate course. The dishes show immense care and subtlety, while the flavours of the ingredients are present with much clarity. Being Spring (despite occasionally reverting back to typical dreary Dutch weather), it was great that they chose to highlight white asparagus in varying formats, and I must say the spaghetti dish was truly impressive. This was certainly a good example of a respectable one star restaurant, and I would be quite happy to dine here again.
Location: George Gershwinlaan 30, 1082 MT Amsterdam, Nederland. +3120 40 444 11 (Beside Amsterdam Zuid train station). Website.