As every year, we celebrate the anniversary of our first date with a meal at Librije. It is easily the best restaurant in the Netherlands and has three Michelin stars. There are tasting menus of 5, 6, or 7 courses (for 185.50, 195, or 202.50 euros), out of which 4 you choose between 3 options each. There is also a vegetable menu, which is also available in a vegan version. Wine pairing 15.50 euros per glass.
First amuse bouche: pork crackling with a soy based sauce.
More crispy shrimp.
Veal tartare with herring caviar.
Deep fried banana with sambal and curry powder.
The first course of the tasting menu: Brussels sprouts with foie gras and truffle. The three ‘sprouts’ you see in the center are just the outer leaves, filled with cream of foie gras! The combination with the truffle and tart dressing was excellent, and it was paired well with a dry Riesling from Rheinhessen (Germany). I thought the Riesling was perhaps just a bit too dry for the foie gras, but with enough of the dressing it did work. 9/10.
Scampi (langoustine) served as ceviche using sauerkraut juices, seaweed, smoked paprika, and crisps made from the langoustine shells. Scampi ceviche is a favorite of the chef, with previous incarnations like kombucha instead of sauerkraut juice. The scampi had a wonderful flavor and texture, although I thought the sauerkraut overpowered this a bit. The wine pairing with a perfectly balanced Albariño from Rias Baixas was excellent. 9/10
An egg with a generous amount of pearle caviar, sour cream, and chives, paired with a rose champagne. No explanation required. What a treat! 10/10
Sole with fermented corn, veal tongue, and crispy parsnip. The veal was cut in the same size as the corn. The sole perfectly cooked and served with a butter sauce. What made this spectacular is that apart from the general wine pairing, there is also the option to have premium wine by the glass. The wine is served using the coravin system, which means that a glass of wine can be taken out of the bottle through the cork using a needle. The sole was paired with an outstanding Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 2008, which made this heavenly. 10/10
The duck is prepared in a special way, as it is dry aged for 9 days in a coat of paraffine and orange. After removing the paraffine, the duck is lacquered with a sauce made from chocolate and the duck’s bones.
The duck’s tongue, heart, and gizzard get served barbecued…
…and dipped in a BBQ sauce, garnished with “duck feed” (a mixture of crispy seeds).
The “T-bone steak” of the duck itself is served with an orange jus. The duck is very tender with nice hints of chocolate and orange. The flavors are perfectly balanced. Paired with a red wine from the Douro, the same region and grape varieties that are also used for port. 10/10
Blue cheese, passion fruit, and garam masala, paired excellently with a Sauternes. The cheese was frozen and then shattered into crumbs. The balance of flavors and textures was perfect. 10/10
An ice cream cart serving different flavors of ice cream and sorbet came by our table…
…and I picked “After Eight” (chocolate and mint).
The dessert was called “Dalfsen/Bangkok”. Now Dalfsen is a village near Zwolle, and the carrots featured in all three parts of this dessert are grown there. The other flavors like ginger and coconut refer to Bangkok. The Tokaji from Hungary had great balance between sweetness and acidity and brought out a lot of complexity in the dessert. 10/10
We have been to the Librije every year since 2005, so by now the style of Jonnie (the chef) is very recognizable. The balance and elegance in the dishes is nearing perfection. One of the developments over the years is less visual spectacle and more precision. What I really liked about this year’s meal was the perfect build up. In many cases at other restaurants the amuse bouche are the best, and then it is downhill from there with a mediocre main course. Here it started great and ended even greater. This was one of our best, if not the best, meal at Librije. 10/10 for the food!
I’ve written it here before and I will write it again now: what is so great about Librije is that there are two stars behind it: Jonnie and Thérèse. He cooks and she takes care of service and wine. We have been to many three star restaurants where the food is deserving of three stars, but not the wine pairings. At Librije the wines do match up with the food. Both the quality of the wines and the wine pairings are outstanding. 10/10 for the wine.
When people ask me what it’s like to go to restaurants like Librije, they are often worried that the service is too formal and impersonal. It is not like that at all at Librije, with a very friendly and relaxed vibe. It is clear that all of the staff just wants you to have a great time. At the start of our meal the service was a bit slow, perhaps because so many guests were arriving at the same time, but other than that the service was flawless. 9/10 for the service.
It goes without saying that we have already made our reservation for next year.