Dining in the Netherlands: Librije*** (2018)

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.

Crispy shrimp.

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.

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17 thoughts on “Dining in the Netherlands: Librije*** (2018)

  1. Congrats again for your anniversary diner.
    Looks and reads awesome, but can only be experienced live at the table.
    I can only agree again, the very best in The Netherlands in food, wines ànd ambience! Every time (15) an unforgettable experience.
    In two weeks we will test how the ex-little sister proceeds in Amsterdam. Will let you know…

    Best regards,

    Frans

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG, this place is it of control. Just seeing this blog cemented planning a Netherlands trip next year. I know you have talked about this place before and have been going since 2005, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Those pairings, 2008 white burg, albarino, wow. That lacquered duck! Caviar egg!
    Amazing

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh definitely, I’m planning a San Sebastian, Andalusia and Barcelona trip for next September, but this is going to be the next trip I plan. Do you need to reserve six months ahead or only 2? We have to meet up for a dinner somewhere in that trip and let us treat you guys for the inspiration of planning a trip there.

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        1. You can see on the website that dinner for Fridays or Saturdays is fully booked about a year in advance. For a Tuesday or Wednesday about 6 months in advance. Lunch is easier, but dinner and then staying at the hotel is better. There may be better availability if you book a combination deal of room + food + wine, but in any case I’d recommend to book soon. We’ll be in Sardinia in Italy, but otherwise we’re around. Would be great to have dinner together, perhaps in Amsterdam?

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          1. Excellent! Thanks for the advice. Wow, I love Sardinian wine. Cannanau grape. There is one called Nero Sardo that introduced me to how funky and barnyard wine could be. I’m excited to hear about all the adventures you guys have there. Cheers

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  3. Happy anniversary after the event! Have been here with you on quite a few occasions now but am absolutely staggered at the innovative food and plating this time . . . And, Stefan, you do not mark dishes ’10’ easily 🙂 ! Oddly my eyes have gone back to the kitchen having ‘dared’ to plate Asian-style fried bananas amidst all this . . . the ‘flavour flow’ must have made this just right . . . . thank you so much for having taken us along . . .

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s always a pleasaure to read your blog posts caro Stefan. I think that eating is one of the greatest pleasures in life and hats off to you and K. for keeping up such wonderful standards. It’s not about being ‘snob’, it’s about appreciating the efforts and experience of chefs who are ‘artists’ in a way – and unsung at that since the food gets eaten and there is nothing left, except photos. If you look at it from this angle, dining can be very much a Zen experience … it’s all ‘in the now’ and then puff … it’s gone. Buon Natale and I hope you have a super duper one 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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