Librije’s Zusje is the “little sister” of Librije in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Amsterdam, with two Michelin stars. Two years ago we had dinner there for the first time, and I concluded back then it was the best restaurant in Amsterdam. So now we were curious to try it again to see if it had evolved. We opted for the 8-course degustation menu (148 euros) with matching wines (88 euros).
We started with a set of amuse bouche. This one included oyster and coffee, an unusual combination but surprising and delicious.
Note the ‘trail’ left behind by this snail. The snail, served in its own shell, was crispy and combined with a delicious cumin sauce.
Very light and crispy this very tasty shii take cracker.
A nice play of warm in cold, smoked eel with ice cream.
All the amuse worked very well with the champagne, but for the last one the first wine of the wine pairing was served as that worked better, and indeed it worked very well. This was shrimp with peanut sauce, served on an ‘army’ of deep fried shrimp heads (that you could snack on as well).
The set of amuse bouche was a great start of the meal, very original and with a great range of delicious flavors and textures. 10/10
Also noteworthy is the very good sourdough bread.
First course: raw mackerel with beetroot juice, cream of haddock liver, and magnolia. The mackerel impeccably fresh (which for mackerel is no small feat considering how quickly it turns), and a wonderful combination with the tart beetroot, the creamy haddock liver, and the crispy magnolia. The dish worked very well with a Pinot Blanc from Alsace, bringing out complexity in the wine. 10/10
The second dish was perhaps the best dish of the evening, but certainly not the most photogenic. Raw carbinero prawn on crispy strands of short rib (‘pulled’ short ribs, then deep fried) with roasted bell pepper, ginger, water melon, and X.O. cream. Wow. What a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. The short rib strands looked like (but of course did not taste like) threads of saffron. There is a lot of going on here with the ginger, bell pepper, and water melon, but every part played its role and it was simply wonderful with the creamy, again impeccably fresh, prawn. Of course there was also pimentón (paprika) sprinkled on the plate, to make it even more Spanish. This was paired with a blend of Weissburgunder, Sauvignon Blanc and Sipon (Furmint) from Slovenia. A complex wine that worked wonders with this complex dish. It was interesting to note that the wine had some ‘petrol’ going on, which is more usual for Riesling from Alsace or Germany. 10/10
North Sea Crab and Veal Marrow, with grated veal tongue, cinnamon, oyster, and kaffir lime. Again an impressive dish with wonderful flavors, paired well with a Riesling from Waipara in New Zealand. 9/10
Cod loin, cooked with fenugreek and served with morels, crispy deep fried rabbit kidneys, carrot, and pecans, and paired with a white Crozes-Hermitage. Simply delicious. 9/10
Pigeon breast with mole, bergamot-yogurt, tomatillo, pumpkin seed, daikon, and pecan. The pigeon was perfectly cooked (probably sous-vide) medium rare, and covered in the mole, a Mexican condiment that worked very well with it. The accompanying wine was a Napa Valley Zinfandel, that worked very well. 10/10
Pan fried foie gras with red cabbage juice and cilantro juice, peanut, and coconut. Paired very well with a Jurançon. The foie cooked to perfection, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The cabbage and cilantro juices were great with the foie gras, as they cut through the richness. The wine pairing was very good, with the dish bringing out the complexity in the wine. 10/10
A lovely palate cleanser before we go on with the desserts.
This ‘object’ had been sitting under a dome in the center of our table during the entire dinner. The waiter came by a couple of times to pour buckthorn juice over it. Then before the palate cleanser are was served, it was removed from the table.
The object turned out to be Tremella, a Chinese type of mushroom, that didn’t have much flavor by itself, hence the buckthorn juice. It was served with orange blossom and caramelized butter. The accompanying late harvest Huxlrebe from Germany was very nice with it. 9/10
The final course of the menu was a desert version of spaghetti carbonara: crispy spaghetti served with egg yolk ice cream, crispy pancetta, pecorino cheese, and freshly ground black pepper. This was outstanding with a late harvest Tokaji. 10/10
Of course it wasn’t over as there were sweets with coffee and tea. The first was cotton candy mojito, very original and very tasty.
Then came an assortment of chocolates and other sweets.
And finally, a green apple martini, served on a green apple that had been frozen with liquid nitrogen. (You couldn’t eat the apple, just the martini on top.)
Wow. This was an amazing dinner. The little sister is giving the older brother a run for his money! Librije’s Zusje is more international than the original Librije, not just the location and clientele, but also the food. Librije is deeply rooted in Zwolle and using many local ingredients, whereas during this dinner we saw dishes that were inspired by dishes or ingredients from Spain, Mexico, Italy, and China. It will probably take the Michelin inspectors some time to award the third star, but this is clearly already at a three star level. The food is original, technically impeccable, and beautifully presented. And most importantly: delicious. 10/10 for the food! All the wine pairings were good to excellent, which is rare to find even at the best restaurants. 9.5/10 for the wine. The service was great too, and what is very important, it is not formal at all (although I’m sure it could be formal if you wanted it to be). We had a lot of great interaction with both the maitre and the sommelier. 9/10 for the service.
8 courses with matching wines, plus all the amuse bouche, champagne, water, and coffee, will set you back 271 euros per person. That is very reasonable for a meal at this level, and a lot less than what you would pay at many other places. You could reduce the number of courses to spend even less.
We can’t wait for our next visit to Librije’s Zusje!