Dining in the Netherlands: Karel V

Grand Restaurant Karel V is part of Grand Hotel Karel V and is housed in a former monastery from the 14th century in Utrecht. The restaurant used to have a Michelin star, but Michelin has recently taken that star away as the chef Jeroen Robberregts left and was succeeded by Vito Reekers, former sous-chef of the restaurant, who hasn’t had the chance to prove himself to the Michelin judges yet. Let’s see if Karel V should get its star back…

The dining room is a very nice space, the refectory of the monastery, which makes for a very nice entourage and ambiance for the dinner. Karel V offers à la carte dining as well as tasting menus, with nice ‘all inclusive’ packages that include mineral water, aperitif, matching wines, and coffee. The 4-course package is nicely priced at 97.50 euros, and this is what we had. In our case it turned out to be the same as the 4-course ‘Culinary Tradition’ menu, but at a reduced price (97.50 instead of 104 euros for the package). Photos taken with my iPhone.

The first amuse bouche was a mini taco with roasted tomato and other flavors. This had many layers of flavor, very nice.

These mini pizzas were stuffed with ricotta cheese. Very tasty and nice contrast between the crispy outside and the creamy inside.

The deep-fried ‘dim sum’ with feta, leeks, and ginger were delicious. I would never have thought to combine these three ingredients, but it worked.

There was also a very thin ham & onion cracker (like shrimp crackers, but thinner) with cream of parmigiano in a tube. All in all a very nice set of amuse-bouches, 8/10.

The first course: langoustine, marinated and crispy, avocado, ginger and lemongrass. The foam was made of kombucha ‘tea’, also combined with langoustines during our dinner at Librije last year. I really liked the crispy langoustine fritters, with tender juicy langoustine inside and caramelized langoustine used for the crispy outside. It was adequately paired with a grüner veltliner from Kamptal (Austria). (I believe a wine with just a touch of residual sugar would have worked even better (as the crispy langoustine had a sweet note), but most restaurants don’t dare to serve an off-dry wine.) 8/10

Zwart/Wit is Dutch for “Black & White”. Simmenthal dry-aged beef, celeriac, horseradish, and mushroom. The tender flavorful raw beef in the crispy black balls worked well with the other ingredients, although the horseradish could have been a bit stronger. What took this dish to the next level was the pairing with a Chardonay Pays d’Oc that worked really well. This is the level of wine pairing that I wish restaurants would always strive for. 9/10

Iberico pork: jamón iberico (pata negra), grilled shoulder piece, and braised cheek (in a crunchy package), triple sherry jus, sweet potato, and black garlic. A very nice main course with perfectly cooked meat. I especially liked the layered ‘bar’ with jamón and sweet potato. Such a Spanish dish asks for a Spanish wine, and you can’t get more Spanish than tempranillo. The pairing was good, although not as good as the previous course. 8/10

The pre-dessert of cotton candy with foie gras and amarena cherry was very nice.

Valrhona ‘Dulcey’ white chocolate with macademia, caramel and Maldon sea salt. A very nice combination of flavors and textures, although a bit less salt would have been nice even though salt and caramel go well together. The accompanying Pedro Ximénez would have been a better match for a dessert with white chocolate as it was a bit too strongly flavored. 8/10

The little sweets that came with the coffee were very nice as well.

If it were up to me, Karel V should get its Michelin star back as this is clearly at the level of a one Michelin star. Good flavor combinations, good technical execution and beautifully presented food without overcluttering the plates. 8/10 for the food. The wines were good with adequate pairings and one outstanding pairing. 8/10. The service was good as well, and more friendly than you may expect from a restaurant inside a hotel. 8/10

I wouldn’t mind eating here again 🙂

3 thoughts on “Dining in the Netherlands: Karel V

  1. What great photos for only using an iPhone! I hope they get their star back. I read that it is devastating for the chefs when they lose a star… like losing a limb. 😦 The food looks quite amazing, though the last photo is my favorite (for obvious, cocoa-related reasons).


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