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.

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

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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

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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

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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 🙂

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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).

    Like

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