De Kruidfabriek is the new restaurant by Peter Lute, known as one of the judges of the Dutch version of MasterChef. The name is a pun that works in Dutch only, because the restaurant is housed in a former gunpowder factory (kruiTfabriek), whereas now they grown their own herbs in a greenhouse (kruiDfabriek, which looks like a spelling mistake). De Kruidfabriek is located along the Amstel river to the south of Amsterdam (between Amstelveen and Ouderkerk aan de Amstel), which would have been a picturesque location if not for the A9 freeway running right by it. But inside you do not notice this at all.
The concept of the menu is somewhat similar to that of Ron’s Gastrobar: 15 dishes to choose from (between 10 and 22 euros) with no distinction between appetizers and main courses. There is also a tasting menu of 4, 5 or 6 courses served as a surprise from the menu for 44, 55 or 66 euros (you can indicate preferences and allergies). Wine pairings are available (6 glasses for 46 euros). As usual we opted for the tasting menu.
The first dish: lightly smoked trout, sautéed shrimp, parsnip foam, and tapioca pearls, paired well with a full-bodied Grillo from Sicily. The trout had a lovely smoky flavor and unctuous texture, whereas the shrimp was nicely crispy and cooking just right. Both worked very well with the parsnip. The tapioca pearls provided an added textural element. I would have preferred more parsnip and less tapioca, but otherwise a perfect dish. 9/10
Cabbage from the grill with cockles (clams) and marrow, paired with a white blend from Costière de Nîmes. The cabbage was perfectly cooked (tender but firm to the bite) with a nice sweet taste and slight smokiness and charring from the grill. It worked well with the clams. 8/10
Truffle risotto with marbré of lardo di Colonnata and quail egg, paired with a Pinot Noir from Pfalz (Germany). A very nice pinot and a perfect pairing. The truffle risotto had a delicious truffle flavor, accentuated by the freshly grated truffle on top. It worked very well with the egg and lardo. It didn’t have the texture of home-cooked risotto, but even in Italy it is almost impossible to find restaurants that still serve ‘real’ risotto. 8/10
Dairy cow ribeye with braised dairy cow in two textures: soft and crunchy, paired well with a delicious 2010 Lalande de Pomerol. I really liked the ribeye, that was perfectly medium rare, full of flavor and tender with a nice hint of smokiness. The latter worked very well with the oak of the wine. 9/10
The cheeses were nice, and on request served with two different wines (a Pinot Gris from Alsace and a Cadillac).
Dessert: very nice basil-yogurt ice cream with a chocolate ‘garden’, paired well with a Moscatel sherry. 8/10
With coffee came good madeleines with coffee zabaglione…
…and more chocolate.
The food was at par or even a notch above what I’ve tasted at restaurants with one Michelin star (which De Kruidfabriek doesn’t have — not yet anyway). Good flavor combinations, perfectly prepared and beautifully presented without too much ‘fuss’ on the plates. 8.5./10 for the food. The wines were good and paired well with the food, 8.5/10 for that as well. The service was good (8/10), especially the pace was perfect. The prices are very reasonable, so De Kruidfabriek offers very good value for money. We’ll be back.