Daalder is located on Lindengracht in the Jordaan neighborhood in Amsterdam. It has nice outside seating, perfect for dinner on a (rare) warm summer night. Inside the tables are small and a bit close together. Daalder doesn’t have a menu. You can only select whether you’d like 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 courses (for 36 – 65 euros) and the chef will do the rest. We decided on 5 courses. There is a wine list, but since the menu is served as a surprise we opted for a glass of matching wine with each dish.
The amuse bouche: melon ice cream with prosciutto, basil, and olive oil crystals. Although the combination of flavors isn’t as original as the other dishes that will follow, it was one of my favorites of the evening with great flavor and play of textures and temperatures. (9/10)
First course: steamed cod with potato, herring caviar, pearl onions, sea aster leaves, and chlorofyl, served with a glass of Riesling from Pfalz. An original dish in which the flavors worked very well together, with a nice contrast between soft and mellow textures and flavors and crispy and fresh textures and flavors. 9/10
Third course: raw scallops with slightly pickled cucumber and XO sauce, a spicy seafood sauce from Hong Kong, served with a glass of slightly chilled Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). A very original dish and a very original wine pairing (that did work). The XO sauce dominates the dish a bit, but the combination does work well. The scallop provides more of a textural element. 9/10
Fourth course: lamb with two preparations of fennel and beurre noisette, served with a glass of Grenache/Syrah from the Rhone. The lamb was perfectly cooked and the fennel, which can easily become bland, had a good fennel flavor. This original combination of lamb and fennel worked very well. Beurre noisette usually isn’t served in such a separated state, but it is a nice addition to the flavor profile. 8/10
Fifth course: sorrel ice cream with strawberries and crispy rice, served with a glass of Brachetto d’Aqui. The waiter asked us to guess the flavor of the ice cream, and we failed miserably. The ice cream was nicely tart and again original. 8/10
The food at Daalder is very tasty, with creative flavor combinations that actually work. Sometimes chefs go overboard in combining things that are creative, but are not more than OK as a combination. Not so at Daalder, where the flavor pairings are both original and delicious. Although the presentation is nice, it is clear that most attention goes to the flavor (which is better than vice versa!). I’m rating 8.5/10 for the food, which is outstanding for a restaurant at this (price) level.
The wine pairings are adequate. Nothing spectacular, but no clashes either and nice wines at very sympathetic prices of around 6 euros per glass. The service was friendly and attentive, although the servers were a bit busy at times.
Daalder has creative tasty food and a good price-to-quality ratio. We will definitely be back for more.