There are two restaurants holding three Michelin stars in the Netherlands: Librije and Inter Scaldes. Librije has held the 3 stars since 2004 and we have eaten there every year since (click here for the review of our latest visit). When we visited Inter Scaldes in 2014 there already were rumours about a third star, but back then we didn’t think that would be justified. In 2018 Inter Scaldes did get a third star, and so we thought we should give it another try. The chef is Jannis Brevet and his wife Claudia is the host.
Inter Scaldes is located in the province of Zeeland, famous for its oysters and lobster. We booked a package that included dinner, hotel, and a visit to an oyster farm (890 euros for two excluding beverages). The tour of the oyster farm was very nice. We tasted six different oysters (including oysters imported from France, Portugal, and Ireland). We could really tell that the oysters were extremely fresh because they had so much more depth of flavor (not just salty like oysters can sometimes be). It was great to taste the difference between the different oysters.
The package included an 8-course degustation menu (225 euros), with wine pairing (92 euros). We were disappointed the menu did not include Oosterschelde lobster, as they are still in season. The menu started with savoureux apéritifs: beetroot with roses, pineapple and buttermilk; watermelon infused with lime, cardamom, and cream of peas; smoked Oosterschelde eel with daikon and miso. Although most people have champagne as an apéritif (as did we), only the eel went well with the champagne. The champagne was a Grand Cru blanc de blancs (i.e. Chardonnay only) (24 euros per glass).
The amuse maison was crab.
First course of the menu: brandade of turbot with grapes and caviar. The brandade is an emulsion, very much like mayonnaise, and included raw garlic. It worked nicely with the caviar. It was paired with a Roussette de Savoie, a wine you don’t see often from the Jura in France, made from the grape variety Altesse. This was an aromatic wine that worked well with the dish; it could handle the unctuous brandade as well as the grapes. 9/10
The next course was served on a very pretty plate. Petoncles, a small type of scallops, with foam of bay leaf and black summer truffle. This was nice, although the truffle wasn’t aromatic at all. It was paired with a Sylvaner from Germany that had very high acidity. It did work with the dish, but the wine was a bit out of balance because of the high acidity. 8/10
The chef really seems to like emulsions and foams, because there was an emulsion of foie gras underneath this foam of parmesan, with a reduction of port.
The same course also included another emulsion of foie gras with popcorn foam, and quince jelly. This was paired with a Riesling from Luxemburg. The Riesling was slightly sweet and by itself a very elegant and complex wine with a great balance. Unfortunately the elegance of the wine was smothered by the foie gras. It wasn’t a complete disaster, but the wine was much better by itself than with the dish. 6/10
When we mentioned this to the sommelier, he told us that we would not have enjoyed a wine that would hold up to the dish, as it would be too heavy. We explained what kinds of wine we like, and he said “Well you’re not getting wines like that from me, because I don’t like them”.
Three preparations of “Special Geay” oysters from Normandy (local ‘flat’ oysters from Zeeland are out of season between May and August): one warm with roses and fava bean (and more foam), the other two cold: one with sauerkraut and the other with gelatin and pickles. The one with sauerkraut was sweet & sour. The oysters were paired with a Chardonnay from Macon in a style more like Chablis. I have to say that I liked the pure oysters we had in the afternoon much better; for me the preparations did not add anything. The Macon only worked well with the oyster with pickles and clashed with the sweet & sour sauerkraut. 6/10
We mentioned to the sommelier that it would be impossible to pair all three oysters with one wine, and asked him whether he had discussed this with the chef. He responded that there was no way that he could ask the chef to change a dish to make it work better with wine. According to him the chef doesn’t taste the wines and leaves it all to the sommelier. He also said he likes the freedom this gives him.
Mrs Brevet stopped by and asked if we liked everything. We responded we liked the food but not the wine pairings. She responded that is a matter of taste and went on to explain that we would not have liked what we said we would like.
Lemon sole with Dai Dai ponzu, fresh peas, and San Marzano tomato. The fish was perfectly cooked and we enjoyed this dish. 8/10
We had mentioned to the sommelier that we would like to upgrade the wine pairing to a nice white Burgundy, if possible. Many restaurants offer premium wines by the glass using the Coravin system. He responded that he refuses to work with Coravin because he had had one bad experience with it, where the last glass from a bottle was oxidized. We indicated that sounded like not using the Coravin system properly (because you have to make sure the needle is filled with argon rather than oxygen before you push it through the cork). Since we could only order a nice white Burgundy by the whole bottle, we decided to stick with the wine pairing. This was a Chenin Blanc from Swartland in South Africa. According to the sommelier this was one of his favorite wines, because he really likes the wine maker as a person. The wine was okay with the dish, but not great.
Lamb fillet with fennel, sea lavender, and piquillo pepper. The lamb was very tender but it looked like it had been cooked sous-vide without any searing afterwards, so a tasty crust was lacking. It was smothered in a green sauce and we could not taste any lamb. It was paired with a simple Rioja. 7/10
At this point we decided to skip both dessert courses and leave, which we have never done before. Mrs Brevet did not inquire why we left prematurely and the next morning when I paid the check she did not ask if we had enjoyed ourselves and neither did she offer a discount for the courses we had skipped.
In conclusion I am only going to say one thing: if you want to go to a three star restaurant in the Netherlands, go to Librije instead.