Dining in Amsterdam: 212* (2020)

I’ve been following chef Richard van Oostenbrugge since he started as the chef of Bord’eau in Hotel de l’Europe in Amsterdam. After gaining two Michelin stars, he started his own restaurant 212 and this is our second visit. 212 has been open for 2 years and now has one Michelin star. The restaurant is different from most other Michelin-starred restaurants as the seating is at a bar around the kitchen where you can see the dishes being finished. (The actual kitchen is downstairs.) We opted for the six course tasting menu (138 euros) with premium wine pairing (118 euros).

The chef loves charcoal and here the lardo on top of a steamed bun is seared by touching it with hot charcoal.

The amuse bouche are presented in a nice way. My favorite one was the second: a sphere filled with ‘carbonara’ of smoked eel. But the third one with crab was also outstanding — among the best crab I’ve ever tasted, very tender and flavorful. 

The final amuse bouche was ‘bone marrow’ made of tiny fishes, served with caviar and a vinaigrette. Great set of amuse bouche, 10/10.

You can see all of the dishes as they are being prepared. The crunchy sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke) was pulverized with hammer right next to our table.

It was filled with Dutch shrimp and a vinaigrette, and finished with grated Swiss cheese (Belper Knolle). It was paired very well with a 2012 Riesling from Austria. A very original dish that was very tasty with great contrast between the crunchy earthy sunchoke, the fresh vinaigrette and the shrimp. The dish really brought out the wine. 9/10

Lobster from the BBQ with a sweet & sour pumpkin puree with tandoori and orange. Again a very original dish with great textures and flavors. Outstanding wine pairing with a 2017 Marsanne from Saint-Joseph in France. 10/10

Turbot sautéed in butter (we watched as it was cooked) with kale, cockles and oyster. Paired excellently with a Meursault (Chardonnay). The cuisson of the turbot was just perfect. Have you seen kale with clams and fish before? I had not. Very often chefs try to do something different and fail, because the dish is indeed different but not delicious. This was absolutely delicious. 10/10

Sole with raw mushrooms, beurre blanc of Vin Jaune, lard, and dried porcini mushrooms. Paired very well with a Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) from Ahr in Germany.  It just keeps coming. 10/10

For the main course there was a choice between pigeon or oxtail, with a supplement of 33 euros for the oxtail because of the very generous amount of black truffle that came with the dish. I should have picked that, even though the pigeon was fine.

This pigeon’s gizzard and heart came on a separate plate with some fresh notes. This was paired well with a 2014 Brunello di Montalcino. The wine was good and worked well with the dish, but not as spectacular as the other wines. Like I said, I should have picked the oxtail. 8/10

There is an option to add cheese for an additional 23 euros. Who can say no to this?

The sommelier suggested a Macvin and I requested cheeses that would go with that. All of the cheese were Dutch and they did indeed go well with the wine. The cheeses were perfectly ripe and served at the right temperature.

For dessert there was a choice between the signature ‘apple’ of the chef or kumquat confit with goat frozen yogurt. I opted for the latter to try something new. The accompanying Jurançon worked very well with it. 9/10

Coffee or tea came with a selection of chocolates…

…and other sweets. The madeleine was excellent with crunchy edges.

The food here is still great with a very constant high level of the dishes. A lot of dishes have an outspoken flavor profile, often with some BBQ/smoky notes. 9.5/10 for the food. This is definitely worth two stars instead of the one star 212 currently has, perhaps even three. I am surprised Michelin did not award a second star in the 2020 edition. Perhaps it is the ‘bar’ setting of the restaurant? The price level is that of a two-star restaurant, but it is worth it.

The wines were already great at our previous visit and have even improved. All the wine pairings were excellent, which is more than at most restaurants. I really like the option of a premium pairing that puts the wines at the same level as the food. 10/10 for the wine!

212 is fine dining in an informal ambience. The service is excellent — everything happened before we even thought about it and the pace of the meal was just perfect (about 4 hours from start to finish). The only glitch was that one in our group had specified no offal and was served the pigeon gizzard and heart anyway. When we pointed this out an adequate solution was offered right away. It is also great that everyone took their time for a chat or explanation. We chatted at length with chef about some of the dishes and the wine pairings. 9.5/10 for the service.

We’ve had a great evening at 212 and will be back for sure!

7 thoughts on “Dining in Amsterdam: 212* (2020)

  1. A childish ‘wow’ ! This place would probably be my first destination arriving at Schiphol ! Love the food, the bar seating, the plating and the ambience. The knowledge about wine I leave to you ! Not too expensive compared to some restaurants to which we have accompanied you but there seem to be a few extras. Out of curiosity – what do you mean by the pumpkin puree being with ‘tandoori and orange’ – with the tandoor being a special oven . . . ?

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      1. Thanks ! The hugely popular tandoor ovens are used in Australia by more than one cuisine these days and there are any number of spice mixes used, so . . . learning 🙂 !

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What an incredible meal, we love bar seating but didn’t find it very common in Europe. It’s great to chat with the bartender at ordinary restaurants. Were there any dishes that you will recreate?

    Liked by 1 person

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