Every year we celebrate the anniversary of our first date with a dinner at De Librije, our favorite restaurant in the Netherlands with 3 Michelin stars and ranked #34 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. De Librije is located in Zwolle, about an hour from Amsterdam. It has been owned by Jonnie & Thérèse Boer (no relation) for 25 years, and has a strong sense of place with many ingredients sourced from the surrounding area.
The advantage of a restaurant owned by a chef and a sommelier that are married to each other, is that the wine pairings are top notch. So are the food and the service, so we keep coming back. This was our 13th visit since 2005.
The amuse bouche started off with a crispy shrimp, served on a very thin shrimp cracker.
Very nice pork crackling with a smoky flavor and soy-based sauce.
‘Friendship ring’ with veal tartare, herring roe, and pickled herring.
‘Passion fruit’ with trout roe. A great series of amuse bouche.
The degustation menu started with exactly the same dish as last year: veal heart tartare, crab, chicken liver, and smoked celeriac juice. Still as good as last year: The combination of flavors on this dish is absolutely wonderful, the smoky juice, the tender crab, the velvety liver, the succulent tartare. What a start, 10/10.” It was paired with another wine: an outstanding Grüner Veltliner from Wachau that became even better with the dish.
Langoustine ceviche, with kombucha used instead of citrus juice and sea weed, paired nicely with a sauvignon blanc/semillon blend from South Africa. I think I liked last year’s langoustine dish slightly better. 8/10
Trout with sherry, coconut, and lovage. The trout is very soft and tender. A very subtle elegant dish, paired well with a white wine from the Sherry-area. It is a dry white from the palomino variety, the same as used for sherry, but not aged or fortified like a sherry. We thought this dish was quite subtle to follow the previous too. 9/10
Young cod (“gul” in Dutch) with blue cheese, spruce, and tulip bulb, paired with a dry white field blend from the Douro area in Portugal. The cod was very tender, but I didn’t really taste the blue cheese. 8/10
The kitchen showed how the next dish was prepared (notice the difference with the plated dish in the next photo!): scallops with mushrooms, spruce, sausage, and sauerkraut, all poached in clarified butter.
This is what the plated dish looks like. The combination of scallop, mushroom, sausage, sauerkraut, and the butter sauce worked very well. 9/10 This was unexpectedly paired with a red, a Spätburgunder (pinot noir). I personally think an oaked white would have been even better, but it was a good pairing.
Hare with sauce royale and crispy kale. The hare was quite similar to last year’s, with some orange juice to lighten up the sauce royale. 9/10 This was originally paired with a 2015 Bairrada, a very astringent red from Portugal, which I politely declined because all that astringency will give me an upset stomach. The Rioja Reserva that came instead was nice and a good pairing.
Foie gras with litchi and apricot kernel, paired well with a slightly sweet Mosel riesling. Nice combination, 9/10.
A new dish they are trying out: pomme soufflé (puffed up potato crisps) with vacherin mont d’or cheese and freshly grated black truffle. This was excellent, 10/10, so it should definitely stay on the menu. Paired nicely with a Macvin from the Jura.
A very nice dessert, not too sweet: beetroot (one of Jonnie’s favorite ingredients, so it had to show up sooner or later) with rose and lovage. The sweet moscatel from Spain took this over the top, what a great pairing. 10/10
Tea was served with tea sorbet (and coffee with an appropriate alternative).
Chocolates with all kinds of flavors.
Earlier this year I wrote that Librije’s Zusje in Amsterdam (with ‘only’ two Michelin stars) is giving the original Librije a run for its money. That turns out to be true, as I think the food at the Zusje was slightly better than our dinner last night at Librije. Perhaps also because we had three dishes that were the same or very similar as last year. But having said that, the food is excellent, 9.5/10. The high level is very consistent and we note a trend over the years towards less spectacle and more focus on pure flavors. The presentation this year seemed to be very ‘organic’ with dishes looking like insects or plants. The wines and wine pairings were excellent as always, 9.5/10, and the service was excellent as always, 9/10. Our reservation for next year has been made already.