Holland, for whatever reason, is a mecca for avant-garde and high-end chefs. Perhaps endless dreary grey days drive everyone into the kitchen, with maximized desire for something colorful and creative. I was lucky enough to visit a few such spots while in Europe – here is the low down:
Villa la Ruche (Voorburg): A lovely sunlit dining room in a quiet suburb of Den Haag. We started with thinly sliced duck, mousse, paper-thin radishes and toasted almonds.
Followed by a grilled prawn with textures of tomatoes and barley.
We finished with a delectably soft white fish, grilled to perfection and served with a smoked egg yolk.
Han Ting (Den Haag): This Michelin starred restaurant serves dishes with an Asian twist. The flavours are bright, fresh, and clean, and the service is top-notch. A friend and I visited for Restaurant Week, a twice-yearly event in Holland. We started off with champagne, savory meringues, pickles, and vegetable mousse.
The first course was pork belly, shrimp, and candied tomato.
We moved onto a velvety white fish with citrus and vegetables, and finished with crispy duck. Wine pairings are available by the half or full glass. You can find the restaurant here, and reviews here.
De Compagnon (Amsterdam): A stark modern restaurant in a canal house, in the heart of the red light district. We had an 8 course blow-out menu, probably the most extravagant meal of my life, and it was so worth it. Paired with carefully chosen wines and wonderful service.
- Miniature blinis with caviar and sour cream. Paired with champagne.
- Foie gras mousse in a chocolate tuille, with greens and white asparagus. Rich, creamy, and a little bit sweet.
- Seared dorada with purple potato
- A single juicy scallop with mushroom ravioli and broth. Paired with an Australian Sauvignon Blanc.
- Sweetbreads with veal cheeks and crispy cauliflower. Even organ meat haters will be converted.
- Potato foam with truffles. The surprising favorite of all. Simple yet bursting with flavour all at once – earthy, sweet, rich, creamy. Paired with a spatburgunder from Germany.
- Rocky Mountain beef with three types of onions
- Oak ice cream, an extra course thrown in for good measure.
- Citrus cake with vanilla ice cream and lemongrass cream, served in a banana leaf. Paired with an icy white dessert wine.
We ended with espresso and yet more sweets – little chocolate cake pops.