Dining in the Netherlands: Podium onder de Dom

Podium onder de Dom is a restaurant in Utrecht (half an hour south-east of Amsterdam) that is located right under the city’s main landmark, the Dom (cathedral) tower. They do not have a Michelin star (yet) — but it seems that they are aiming to get one. Chef Leon Mazairac’s motto is “Simplicity is complex enough as it is”, and that is clear from the dishes in which the main ingredients are allowed to shine. The 7-course degustation menu (75 euros) changes regularly. (They call it 11 courses, but some of the parts are served together and it is not customary the count the amuses bouche and sweets with coffee as courses.) The “Winter Collection ’17” has the song “Oh oh Calypso Blues” as the theme, although apart from the one dish it didn’t become clear to us from the rest of the menu.

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The appetizers came in a set of three. This salad of cauliflower, green tomato, yellow beetroot, and horseradish, was excellent. Great combination of flavors and textures, and delicious.

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The sea bream sashimi, very lightly marinated with kaffir lime, was very fresh.

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The krupuk with anchovies mayonnaise was good too, although these flavors were very outspoken compared to the other two appetizers. Still a very promising start to the evening, 9/10.

With the appetizers the first wine was served, a Riesling Spätlese Trocken from the Rheingau in Germany that worked very well with the appetizers.

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It also worked well with the first course: red mullet with sprouts and kimchi bisque. Although the “kimchi” was a bit hard to tell, this was delicious and a very good combination of flavors. The sprout leaves worked very well with the rest and the mullet was perfectly cooked. It also worked very well with the riesling. 9/10

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Along with the mullet came “Le cactus de Siberie” with goat cheese, aloë vera, and yellow curry. This ‘lolly’ was very mild tasting, it was hard to taste the aloë vera and yellow curry. The goat cheese made the Riesling a bit too tart. 7/10

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The horse (!) tartare with oyster mayonnaise was very nice, with a delicate oyster flavor. It was served with an unusual wine, made without adding sulfur, from Gard in the South of France that seemed a bit weird at first, but worked very well with the dish. It is a blend of Bourboulenc, Roussanne, and Chasan. (I had never heard of the latter before and had to look it up to find out that it is a cross of Chardonnay and Palomino Fino (the sherry grape)). 8/10

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Scampi sauce Ricard. The prawn is very tender and works well with the creamy Ricard sauce (Ricard is an aniseed and herbes de provence-based liqueur from the South of France), which in turn works well with the Chardonnay from Arbois in the Jura. 8/10

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The next course is cod with squid, lemon grass, and mango and served with a soundtrack: a reggae-version of the song Oh oh Calypso Blues (with the MP3-player hidden under a bed of seaweed and oyster shells). This was served with an unusual Chenin Blanc from Anjou in the Loire region, with strong hints of mint. This worked very well with the sauce. The cod was perfectly cooked (sous-vide). 9/10

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The following dish was the signature dish of the chef, a raviolo (singular) filled with oxtail confit, and a cream of mascarpone and old balsamico. We opted for a bonus of black truffle (12.50 euros extra). This worked well with a nice Pinot Noir from Valle de Uco, Argentina. A very nice dish, and I would not have minded ravioli (plural) instead of the one. 9/10

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Thick-cut carpaccio (they called it “tagliata”, but that is seared instead of raw) of a Dutch milking cow with onion in red wine and duck foie gras. This was lacking salt, but luckily there was still some salt on the table (which was served with the bread) and that saved the dish. A lean cut of beef has been used for this (fillet?), which is very tender but lacking in the flavor department. I’ve had nicely marbled milking cow rib eye served in a similar fashion that was amazing. The Cabernet Sauvignon from the Colli Piacentini that was served with this, overpowered the dish and was too astringent with the very unctuous dish. Serving it slightly chilled made it perhaps less overpowering, but all the more astringent. 7/10

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As the portions are very small, we opted to have cheese as an additional course (14 euros). There is a nice cheese cart with a good selection of cheeses, many off the beaten path. After some deliberation we asked for a selection of blue cheeses and a glass of Monbazillac.

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Dessert: different textures of earl grey and sencha with hazelnut. The dessert was quite nice, but the Côtes de Gascogne that was served with it was “moelleux” rather than “liquoreux” and not sweet enough for some of the elements of the dessert. 8/10

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With coffee or tea a “Dom tower” made of butterscotch chocolate was served.

The food is good, with some nice original touches and true to the motto of simplicity. It is delicious and nicely presented, and technically everything is prepared just right. The portions are tiny, you really have to eat a lot of bread or go away hungry. Except for the appetizer salad (which was one of my favorite dishes) there are hardly any vegetables except for decorative purposes (a fennel shaving here, a single leaf of baby lettuce there). Still, as far as the food is concerned I’d say a first Michelin star should be within reach soon. 8/10.

The service needs more work. In the beginning of the evening this was fine with the meal at the right pace and the service very attentive. Later on the time between dishes became too long and the serving staff didn’t even notice when I hardly touched that glass of Cabernet and when they did finally take the almost full glass away, they didn’t even ask anything. They also stopped pouring more wine when our glasses were empty, which they did all the time at the start of the evening. 7/10 for the service.

I have mixed feelings about the wine. On the one hand there were some very original wines that were not only original but also good and worked very well with the dish. On the other hand there were some very basic pairing mistakes with the Cabernet and the Gascogne. So all in all 8/10.

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14 thoughts on “Dining in the Netherlands: Podium onder de Dom

  1. Interesting. I wouldn’t eat most of the food, but it is interest to look at and for 75 euros? Did that include the wines?

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  2. Stefan – having eaten in some of the finest Restaurants around the world I must say….and how do I do this in a polite manner …. their prices seem absolutely exorbitant to me – and service a ‘bit sloppy’!? When I lived in Bonn/Cologne we drove quite often over to your country for an excellent meal – but I think I would give this one here a miss – possibly. But on the other hand, reading your article you made me longing for Riesling Spätlese Trocken from the Rheingau. 🙂

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  3. A restaurant like this is great if you don’t expect too much and a large part of the enjoyment is good company.
    Really good food, without fru fru (musicplayer, useless garnishes that don’t add to the actual food, “IN” interior which has used up most of the restaurants budget) is VERY hard to come by in most of these overhyped places.
    Mind you, there are some absolutely divine places, but the majority lives of its temporary novelty

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    1. Hans – you have given me a Sunday morning laugh with your choice of ‘fru fru”! SO true about that silly ‘music’ but the interior looks very calm and soothing . . . and methinks they may just stick around 🙂 ! Love the almost Japanese style crockery . . .

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  4. Love the look of the sashimi, raviolo and cheese plate. Certainly an interesting place to follow and one of the cheapest degustation meals you have shown. [The total was largely up to you after all!] A little bit uneven at the moment methinks! But, sorry, that ‘soundtrack’ would have disappeared from my table ere I took a single bite: some things are simply too ‘cornball’ for me to accept 🙂 ! And water and coffee, to my way of thinking, should have been complimentary . . .

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  5. Not that I am an expert, but eu 130 per head does not seem outlandish to me for this level of cuisine – it’s not like we eat like this every day. I expect the portions are fairly small because there so many dishes? Even so, no one should leave the table feeling peckish. I smiled at the mention of ‘Gard’. Pino and I happened to be not far from Gard, near Uzès, for a friend’s special birthday at the end of January. We had a lovely time … lots of laughter and celebration. Didn’t know that part of France was known for its wine (Langedoc Roussillon) … always good to learn. I reckon you should open a restaurant one of these days, and I am not joking Stefan !

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