It was over 4 years ago that I last dined at Vermeer, the one Michelin star restaurant of chef Chris Naylor, located just across the street from Central Station in Amsterdam. As you can read here in the review of my previous visit, it was good then but not spectacular. I had recently heard good things about it, and when I read an interview with the maitre in which he explained they had upgraded the wine pairings to be able to serve wines at par with the food, I decided to check it out again. I’m glad that I did, because Vermeer has improved a lot since my last visit. The interior has been redone. It is now more informal and warm, although the lights are perhaps a bit too dim. There is only a chef’s menu with the choice of 4 courses for 65 euros, 5 courses for 75 euros, or 6 courses for 85 euros. The menu is served as a surprise; only the main ingredients are listed. Matching wines are 15 euros per glass. This is higher than at other restaurants, but you get better wines for it and I think it is a good idea that the wines are about the same price as the food.
Amuse bouche: a ‘tortilla’ with turnip and buckthorn berry. Nice fresh flavors.
Another amuse bouche: a caramelized Brussels sprout with an aged cheese emulsion. Nice presentation and great flavors.
First course: beetroot with crispy shrimp and ‘bloody peary’ (pear, vodka, and tobasco). Matched very well with a Grüner Veltliner Wachau Federspiel. The dish worked with the bloody peary and the dish worked with the wine, but the wine did not work with the bloody peary. 8/10
The second course was an oven-baked scalllop, kept closed with a bread crust that was cut open at the table.
Inside was a perfectly cooked scallop with plum and celeriac, plus celeriac stock. Very nicely done, although a sear on the scallop could have been nice. Paired well with a Soave. 8/10
The turbot was cooked on the grill and shown at the table before it was taken back to the kitchen to be filleted and plated with red cabbage. We had mentioned to the sommelier that we wouldn’t mind an upgrade to the wines, and here he came up with a 2010 Meursault (20 euros instead of 15) that was outstanding both as a wine and in combination with the dish. 9/10
Pheasant with coconut, paired with a red blend from Burgenland, Austria (Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and St Laurent). The pheasant was tender and juicy and the wine was nicely earthy and worked well with the dish. 8/10
We decided to upgrade with a selection of Dutch cheeses, that was paired with two different sherries. An almost dry PX that went well with the ligher cheeses, and a sweet moscatel that went well with the stronger cheeses. The cheeses were perfectly ripe and served at the right temperature. 9/10
Dessert amuse: passion fruit with chocolate.
The dessert was nicely fresh with various textures of apple and pumpkin, paired well with a Tokaji 5 puttonyos. 8/10
With tea or coffee came a ‘tompouce’: puff pastry with Anglaise.
The food was better than four years ago and better than at many other 1 Michelin star restaurants, getting close to 2 stars I would say. And that for a reasonable price level. The portions are small, but with the nice bread you don’t go away hungry. 8.5/10 for the food.
The wine was spectacular and improved incredibly compared to four years ago, especially the pairings. All the pairings were flawless, which is rare. The wines have a great level of complexity and are clearly above what you would get in a wine pairing at even most three Michelin stars restaurants. Well worth the 15 euros per glass. 10/10 for the wine!
The service was very good. The wine was always served at the right time and promptly topped up when necessary. The interaction with the staff was also very nice, not uptight or formal at all. 9/10 for the service.
I definitely recommend Vermeer for wine lovers. The food isn’t bad either 🙂 I will go back soon!