We have two restaurants with three Michelin stars in the Netherlands, the Librije and De Leest. This was our third visit and the second that I am writing about on the blog; click here to read about my previous experience in 2014. De Leest is the restaurant of chef Jacob Jan Boerma and host and sommelier Kim Veldman in the small town of Vaassen in the largest forested area that we have (the Veluwe), near Apeldoorn, and about an hour east of Amsterdam. There are 5, 6 or 7 course tasting menus. We opted for the 7-course “Micri” tasting menu (158 euros) with matching wines (67 euros).
The evening started with a set of amuse bouche. The first one was nice with water melon and a parmigiano cracker.
The second one was steak tartare with a balloon-shaped potato chip.
The lightly smoked salmon was very nice.
My favorite was the lukewarm oyster with Thai green curry. The eggplant with tomato and curry spices was also very nice. A very nice set of amuse bouche that worked well with the champagne, 9/10.
The menu started with North Sea crab with butternut squash, cream of kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, and Buddha hand. The crab had a very nice tender texture and combined well with the different Asian fresh flavors. 9/10 The dish was paired with a Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) from Rheinhessen, Germany. The pairing was spectacular, as the different things on the plate all highlighted different aspects of the wine.
Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the second dish, which was actually the best of the evening. It was a langoustine (scampi) with Vadouvan (a mild Indian spice mix), pork belly with Tandoori, and a lightly smoked vegetable puree. This dish was so delicious that we all couldn’t help but make noises of appreciation with each bite. 10/10
It was paired with an usual wine that worked very well, a 50/50 blend of riesling and gewürztraminer from Pfalz in Germany.
The langoustine was a tough act to follow, and what followed was actually the dish we liked the least even though it was still good. Cod with citrus and yellow curry, butternut squash and parsnip. (What you see at 5 o’clock on the plate is a charred slice of parsnip, not a scallop.) The flavors worked well together and the cod had a nice tender texture. 8/10
This was paired with a falanghina from Campania, Italy. Falanghina is usually higher in acidity, which would have worked better with the dish. The pairing was OK, but not as good as the others.
Locally grown trout, cooked sous-vide at 42C/108F, with fennel, almond, beurre noisette, and vadouvan. This was a very nice dish, especially when paired with an unusual oak-aged Pinot Blanc from Alsace. 9/10
Pressé of duck foie gras with hibiscus, fresh papaya and dragon fruit. Nice flavors, although I would have preferred to be able to take slightly larger bites. 9/10 This was paired nicely with a Riesling Feinherb from Germany.
Pheasant with its own jus, truffle, roasted endives, and different textures of sunchokes. The pheasant breast was cooked perfectly (sous-vide) and the jus was very good. 10/10
The usual wine pairing is a young Cahors, a hefty Malbec from the South-West of France. Even though it was served slightly chilled and had been decanted two hours before to bring out the fruit and was therefore quite approachable, it was way too hefty a wine for the subtle flavors of the dish. When we pointed this out, we got a Spätburgunder from Pfalz instead, which worked very well. Very strange that this is not the usual pairing. Although I understand that some guests prefer to have at least one hefty red wine, that ought to mean that the chef should include a dish in the menu that can handle such a wine.
We were feeling like adding some cheese to the menu, and asked for cheeses that would pair nicely with a wine. The wine turned out to be some unusual kind of Pedro Ximenez, much lighter than the usual style and only slightly sweet, that did indeed work well with all the cheeses on the plate.
The first dessert: different structures of blueberries. Great blueberry flavor, 9/10. The same Huxelrebe Auslese, again from Germany, was served with all three desserts. This aromatic dessert wine with good acidity worked with all three, but it was best with the second dessert. (Huxelrebe is a cross between Chasselas and a rare variety of Muscat.)
The second dessert with mandarin and white chocolate was as good as the previous one, but it came out even better because the Huxelrebe worked better with this. 10/10
I don’t remember what this dessert was. Perhaps this is due to the amount of wine?
The evening ended with a great assortment of sweets that came with coffee or tea.
The dishes of Jacob Jan Boerma are very elegant with detailed fresh flavors. I thought the food was even better than during our previous visit. Contrary to last time, also the meat course was very good. 9.5/10 for the food.
Some of the wine pairings were outstanding and all of them were good.Many of his dishes have an Asian twist, and so it is no surprise that wines from Germany work best. The mistake (in my opinion) with the Cahors was quickly fixed. Very close to a perfect score for the wine as well, 9.5/10.
We enjoyed the enthusiastic stories of the sommelier about the wines. Topping up of water and wine was sometimes a bit slow, but otherwise the service was good. 8.5/10
De Leest is definitely what you can expect from a restaurant with three Michelin stars, and the wine pairings are even better than at most three star restaurants. We will be at the Librije next month, so it will be interesting to compare.