Saturday, November 6, 2010

Arnhem: Verheyden

Apeldoorn, Netherlands, Nov. 5, 2010—
TO ARNHEM BY BUS today, there to see Het Nationale Ballet but first, of course, to eat dinner. That was at a restaurant not unfamiliar to us; we'd been there two years ago, with a friend, Dutch, who we'd known for years, and who had in fact worked a year as hostess at Chez Panisse. On that occasion I was impressed with Verheyden; the menu was enterprising and the kitchen skilful.

Since then the direction has changed, I'm told, but the level is still high. There were a few unfamiliar items on the menu: schoneneren, which Anneke explained were poor man's asparagus, some kind of underground stalk that must be peeled before being served with the traditional eggs, ham, and tarragon-flavored Hollandaise; and oerwortel, another traditional farmer's dish we were told; parsnips, I think I overheard a man at the next table mention. If so, I was fortunate to have ordered something else: parsnips, like turnips and rutabagas and beets, are certainly very fine vegetables, but far from my personal taste.

Instead I had a very correct, very traditional, very tasty house-made paté, with tiny cornichons and a delicious chutney: long-slow-cooked very thin-sliced onion, colored and flavored with what must certainly have been cranberry, though it wasn't mentioned on the menu. And afterward, another risotto, to compare to the one still fresh in memory from Milan the other day.

This one was not made with the correct Italian fat-grained rice but with something closer to jasmine-style rice, so the texture didn't really work. The stock was good, though, and the great number of mushrooms — farmed, not wild — added a lot of interest if not a truly focussed flavor. Dessert was a huge serving of appeltaart which I unwisely took without the slagroom; a little bit of the whipped cream would have made it quite delicious.

Martini before dinner; house Soave, otherwise unspecified

Cafe Restaurant Verheyden, Wezenstraat 6, Arnhem; tel. 026 443 70 35;

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