Dining in the Netherlands: Librije*** (2019)

De Librije is the best restaurant in the Netherlands and has been awarded three Michelin stars for 15 years in a row now. It is often ranked among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. We have been there each of those 15 years to celebrate our anniversary, and it is great to see the restaurant’s style evolve and at the same time remain true to itself. I am not going to repeat what I’ve written in previous years, so we’ll just go directly to the food and wine.

The ‘friendship ring’ with veal tartar, herring caviar, and mustard has returned for the third year.

Crispy pork skin.

Crispy shrimp.

The final part of the amuse bouche this year was an ode to the chef’s grandfather, who used to be a freshwater fisherman in Giethoorn where the chef was born, near Zwolle. The postcard shows an actual photo of his grandfather, and on the back it is explained that these amuse bouche are an ode to all freshwater fishermen. This gives the dinner a personal touch.

Barbecued cheeks of pike, smoked on actual pike heads.

The fish is served on the right. On the left is crayfish with crayfish stock.

In the eggs is a custard with smoked eel.

Freshwater crab, served on the crab.

The first actual course of the tasting menu is crab and foie gras. What looks like a crab claw in the bowl, is actually made of foie gras.

Next to it was a salad with a vinaigrette of crab and sprinkled with foie gras. The ‘vinaigrette’ has an elegant crab flavor and is opaque from crab protein, very original.

This dish was served with a Riesling from the Mosel region from grapes grown on red slate on very old vines with still the original rootstock. With 10 grams of residual sugar and 10 grams of acidity this wine was almost dry and a great match with the ‘salad’. It also worked with the other bowl, although a slightly richer Riesling would have worked even better. The sommelier explained they didn’t want to start with a very rich wine, which is understandable. 9/10

Then some bread with goat butter (enriched with grape most) was served. Unlike previous years, this was the only bread that was served with the meal. Later on we requested some more of this bread, because we like it to clean the plates of all flavor without actually picking up the plates and licking them 🙂

The chef has perfected making scampi ceviche in kombucha. We thought it funny that the serving staff was mentioning the pH of the kombucha used to ‘cook’ the scampi. The kombucha was here flavored with tomato and galangal, which made it the best rendition of kombucha-scampi yet. I also really liked the texture of the scampi: soft without being mushy. This was paired well with a Muscadet. The dish brought out the complexity of the wine. 9/10

Next another ingredient the chef likes to use: monkfish, served with a curry of Indian cress and extract of pandan leaves. The monkfish was cooked to perfection and the best rendition of monkfish so far. The curry was very flavorful with a great balance of flavors. This was paired nicely with a Pinot Blanc/Auxerrois from Alsace. 10/10

Perle Imperial caviar with seaweed, potato, and egg, paired very well with a pink Champagne. Always a great combination of flavors and there were some nice crispy elements in here. 9/10

The next dish was finished by the table.

Some bacon was cooked on the hot cover, while the zander was lacquered with apple syrup and sprinkled with fried potato bits.

This tasty dish was paired well with an unoaked Chardonnay from Friuli in Northeastern Italy. The fish was cooked to perfection.

The next dish was new on the menu and involved a celeriac cooked in a salt crust, that was shown at the table.

The celeriac was served with sweetbread and this was easily the best dish with sweetbread that I ever tasted. It was paired very well with an excellent Morgon from the Beaujolais area. 10/10

Next was hare with kale, orange, and kurkuma. The orange balances out the sauce made from the hare, which could otherwise be too ‘gamey’. We really loved the crispy fried kale with stewed hair meat. The hair fillet was medium rare and tender. We had requested a more mature red wine, and were delighted with the 2005 Sociando-Mallet from the Médoc in France, that was paired with it. Although this Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated wine is 14 years old, it was still in its prime but with soft tannins. 9/10

There is no such thing as too much foie gras, and so we were delighted with this combination of duck foie gras with Dutch aged cheese (Olde Remeker, similar to Gouda). It was paired excellently with a Sauternes. 9/10

The dessert looked amazing. You have to look very carefully to see the difference between the edible white peaks and the white peaks of the bowl. I don’t remember exactly what was in this, but I do remember that it worked well with a Tokaji that was not very sweet (no aszú, which is the Hungarian for grapes affected by botrytis) and smelled of applesauce.

You could choose from three different ice cream combinations that were prepared by the table.

I picked something with chocolate and porcini mushrooms, very tasty.

Then it was ‘time’ for sweets…

…with a vanilla sauce under the chocolate clock.

As mentioned in the introduction, I am not going to repeat everything I wrote last year about the food, wine, and service.

It is still 10/10 for the food and 10/10 for the wine and great value for money compared to restaurants of this level outside the Netherlands.

The service has even improved and was now 9.5/10. The timing of the dishes was such that we did not even think about it. All too often the timing with tasting menus like this is either too fast (when a new dish is coming before you feel ready for it) or too slow (when a new dish is not coming when you feel you’ve been ready for it for a while). Tonight it was so perfect that the dishes came at exactly the right time. The service is also very friendly and it is great to interact with everyone.

As usual we already made a reservation for next year.

9 thoughts on “Dining in the Netherlands: Librije*** (2019)

  1. What a beautiful meal, and the portions don’t look excessive; the one star we’ve dined in in Spain has a little too much on each plate and you feel so unbearably full at the end. Definitely will check it out during our Amsterdam visit (still working out the dates).
    Sorry I’ve bee AWOL but we just returned from a month-plus in Arizona! We had three sets of friends join us for 5-6 days each! It was definitely whirlwind but super fun! Now I need a vacation! Merry Christmas, to you and your partner and we hope you have a wonderful new year that’s filled with good health and much happiness!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Eva, when writing this blog I was thinking of you and already planning to write to you to suggest going here. It is just that much better than restaurants with a similar price tag in Amsterdam, and only a 65-90 minute train ride away. Although the service here is the same for lunch and dinner and the shortest tasting menu is six courses, this is definitely not too much food. If you do want to go here, make sure to book as soon as you know the dates. It will be impossible for dinner on popular evenings like Saturday, but for a Tuesday or for lunch you can probably still secure a spot. Happy Christmas to you too, and let’s hope we get to meet in 2020!

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  2. This is a beautiful post, and warmest congratulations on your anniversary. The meal looks beautiful. It reinforces, however, my serious reservations about such highly ranked restaurants. They have all become much more alike than they are different. Indeed, they must display the same array of small plates of food that could be presented in Amsterdam, New York, or London to get their stars. It’s all so internationalized. I recently ate in an equivalent restaurant in Rome and was deeply dismayed by it’s lack of distinctiveness. It was so unItalian and so unsatisfying. As well as enormously expensive!

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    1. Although there is a similarity in portion sizes and how beautiful it all looks and there are indeed a lot of restaurants that are lacking in character, I would strongly argue that Librije is different in that respect. Jonnie Boer has his own style and uses his favorite locally sourced ingredients that make it easy to distinguish his dishes.

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  3. Am filing this wondrous dinner to read later . . . know i’ll so enjoy ! Hope Kees and you have a great Christmas as you had a memorable anniversary . . . warmest congratulations on another year together . . . Am penning this from no-Christmas land with fires bery close by on three sides and over already a hundred nearby friends with their homes burnt for Yule . . . .

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    1. So sorry to hear you are affected by the fires. I was wondering about that, but Australia is so large that I had no idea whether this was actually close to you. Please leave on time if needed!

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