Dining in the Netherlands: De Leest***

There are only two restaurants in the Netherlands with three Michelin stars. De Librije has had its third star since 2004, De Leest acquired it recently. De Leest is situated in the village of Vaassen, near the town of Apeldoorn in the Veluwe forest. We had already visited De Leest some years ago when it still had two stars, and really enjoyed the detailed flavors and good wines. The third star of De Leest was a good excuse to dine there again. We ordered the “Micri” menu (145 euros), which promises “nature, creation, discovery & innovation”, and matching wines. This is a ‘surprise’ menu and no written description is provided, so this review is based on my memory.

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The collection of amuses bouches was outstanding. This crispy taco with beef tartare was very nice.

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This macaron was unbelievably light and fluffy.

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This horn was very crunchy and light.

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The oyster pearls on top of this amuse had a lovely oyster flavor.

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This foie gras mousse with beetroot was unbelievably delicate.

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And finally, this avocado tempura was a display of technical prowess. It’s very difficult to deep fry avocado and serve it surrounded by a feathery light crispy batter.

A very nice set of amuses bouche: 9/10.

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The first course of our Micri menu was mackerel tartare with white asparagus, paired with a silvaner from Franken. The mackerel tartare was the freshest I have ever tasted and the combination with the other flavors was outstanding. The wine pairing also worked very well — the wine and the different elements on the dish interacted with each other in a great way. There were many different elements on this plate (including really good cauliflower gel), but it all worked together in a great way. 10/10

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The second course: a perfectly cooked langoustine with mushrooms and escabeche, paired with a dry mosel riesling. Again a great combination of flavors, very elegant and detailed, and an outstanding wine pairing. The riesling had just the right amount of ‘fattiness’ to go with the texture of the langoustine and the mushroom and the riesling interacted in a great way. 10/10

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Dutch lobster (from Oosterschelde) with fava beans and savory, paired well with a roter veltliner (the ‘cousin’ of the well-known grüner veltliner from Austria). The lobster was not as tender as at Schanz, but still very good and I liked the original combination with beans. The wine pairing was again very nice. 9/10

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Turbot with celeriac and citrus, paired with a rosé from Burgenland (Austria). The turbot was perfectly cooked and delicious with the other elements. The wine didn’t exactly clash, but it wasn’t a great match either and not at par with the previous dishes. 9/10

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The next dish seemed almost like an amuse bouche. The beef tartare was combined with fresh flavors and thus became very light. The german pinot noir (Spätburgunder) that was paired with it, bulldozered right over it. With a lighter wine this would have worked much better. 8/10

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The lamb dish was good, but after all the great seafood I thought it was a bit boring. The piece of neck had a great texture and flavor, whereas I would have preferred the lamb saddle to be cooked a bit more rare. The Corbières that was served with it was a great wine, but again too strong for the lamb. 8/10

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There were so many desserts (and I had had drunk 7 glasses of wine by now) that I find it hard to describe all the desserts. There were 7 bowls and plates with different flavors and textures, mostly playing between sweet and fresh and therefore paired very well with a riesling auslese. This wine had great balance and just a nice touch of ‘petrol’.

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Pineapple and mandarin.

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Strawberry.

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Almond and pistacchio — the riesling auslese was too fresh for this dessert.

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Yogurt.

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For the set of desserts altogether 9/10. They came in quick succession and it was a bit strange that you were supposed to eat all 7 of them with the same spoon.

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There was a great assortment of sweets with the coffee and tea.

As I remember from my previous meal at De Leest, chef Jacob Jan Boerma specializes in seafood. Since the restaurant is located in a wooded area more than 100 kms from the sea where most restaurants specialize in venison and wild boar, that is remarkable. The quality and freshness of the seafood is impeccable, as is the preparation. The pairings with white wines are also impeccable. Boerma’s style of cooking is very elegant and detailed. No bold flavors here, and no spectacular plating. Overall for the food I’m scoring between 9 and 9.5/10.

The wines were all very good. Just like the food, very elegant and detailed. The wine pairings of white with seafood were all outstanding, but those with rosé and red were not as great. 9.5/10 for the wines, but only 8/10 for the pairings overall.

The previous time were served by maitre d’ Kim Veldman, and liked the service better than this time around. The service was as can be expected from a restaurant at this level, but didn’t have the personal connection that would have taken it to the next level. Our waiter also did not seem interested in feedback on the wine pairings. 8.5/10

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9 thoughts on “Dining in the Netherlands: De Leest***

  1. Stefan you deserve to be the shape of a barrel with all the 3* Michelin dining I’ve been reading on your blog, I don’t know how you manage it. Nice to have the experience vicariously

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  2. A very exciting ‘visit’ with you and have to begin from the top again 🙂 ! I love variety but the number of amuses and desserts here are almost too much for the eye! And I have learned mackerel can be served ‘a la tartare’ – I would have thought that the oiliness and definite taste of the fish would not have made it delicate enough: but you gave it 10/10! Finally have to laugh about the seven glasses of wine [don’t worry: have been ‘there’!!!] and wonder what the glass size was . . . .

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      1. OK – I count on seven glasses per bottle and roughly 1.2 bottles per person at dinners, so that equates . . . . actually loved the amuses on second look!

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  3. Another fine dinner, Stefan, as one might expect of a restaurant worth of three Michelin stars. Each course was so beautifully presented. I agree with Eha and chuckled when I read the 7 glass of wine comment. They didn’t seem to bother your photographic skills. 🙂

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