But a carefully considered more-or-less table d'hôte menu, and a wide-ranging wine list. A very serious restaurant, this; the third one we've been to in as many days.
The amuse-guele was, wouldn't you know it, beets, in a pleasant flavored oil, garnished with lovage. Lovage is in the air this week in Amsterdam.
My Companion and I ordered identically. Our first course was salt cod — you'll know by now we never miss an opportunity. But this was not baccalà; it was fresh, not dried, and salted in house.
It was served at room temperature, almost as a sashimi, together with sautéed leeks, whose green leaves had been made into a delicious coulis with a thoughtfully chosen olive oil base enhanced with pistachios.
On top of the whole thing, frisée chiffonade. And the coulis was flavored, just barely detectably, with ash from the charcoal grill on which the leeks had been cooked. This was a very interesting dish, very well balanced, the sweet leeks offsetting the clean, fresh, sea-salty cod. I could have this for breakfast, I think.
Our main course was beef rib-eye, grilled, and served sliced atop an inspired dry grill of thyme — lots of thyme — slices of lemon, and the bottom quarter or so of a whole head of garlic. Hollandse biefstuk, I joked to the patient, engaging waiter, for Dutch beefsteak was a constant presence in the traditional Dutch restaurant repertory I met on my first visits to this country, over forty years ago.
Yes, he said, but with this difference: it's a cut with flavor, not just tenderness; it isn't overcooked; there's no gravy. The beef was Dutch, though; grass fed, and from Gelderland — the Achterhoek, in fact.
With the beef, as a side dish, red cabbage, cooked with chopped hazelnuts and garnished with… lovage. You can't escape it.
Dessert was a simple crème brûlée, nicely flavored, eggy, a suitable modest close to an inventive, rewarding meal. I'd go back any time.
Bandol, Domaine Tempier, 2009: perfect
☛Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants