Dining in the Netherlands: Librije*** (2021)

Our annual dinner at the Librije in December of last year had to be postponed due to the pandemic. Now that most of us our vaccinated, restaurants are back in business and we could catch up our dinner. As usual we stayed at the hotel and had booked an all-in package with 8 courses and wine pairings.

The first set of amuse bouche tasted as good as it looked.

The second set of amuse bouche was a celebration of the produce from three of the long-time suppliers of Librije: trout with mushrooms from Delisalm, an oyster from the Oesterij, and fermented vegetable juice from Kwekerij Eef Stel. It was presented with a ‘passport of flavor’…

…with a map of all suppliers. Most of the ingredients are sourced locally.

The first course: crab with foie gras, kohlrabi, lime, and tulip bulb, paired excellently with a Riesling from Mosel in Germany. The richness of the Riesling could handle the foie gras, while the freshness of that same Riesling worked very well with the crab, kohlrabi, and lime. 10/10

Chef Jonnie Boer has been serving scampi (langoustine) ceviche with homemade kombucha as the acid for a long time, and this time the kombucha was made from verveine. This dish was quite spicy and worked very well with the same Riesling, but also with a Txakoli from the Bask Country. A regular Txakoli would have been too acidic for the spiciness of this dish, but this was was aged on the lees and worked beautifully. It was hard to decide which was the better pairing. On the one hand the dish brought out the complexity of the Riesling, but on the other hand the Txakoli worked slightly better with the spiciness. 10/10

Yellowtail shabu shabu, with the yellowtail cooked tableside in mushroom stock. A very elegant dish, paired perfectly with a Chardonnay from the Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley in South Africa. 10/10

The chef was trying out a new dish, and we got to taste it. A green romanesco cauliflower has been wrapped in river clay and baked in the oven.

The clay was broken at our table.

The cauliflower was then served with cashews, coffee, and indian cress. This new dish is a winner and shows the chef’s talent with vegetable dishes. This worked very well with the same Chardonnay from South Africa, but even better with a 2015 Bourgogne Blanc (also Chardonnay) by Vincent Dancer from Chassagne-Montrachet. The grapes used for this were not all from the appellation and thus the wine is ‘only’ Bourgogne Blanc, but it did have the richness and balance of a true Chassagne. Compared to its South African cousin, this wine was more nuanced and had a fuller spectrum of flavor. It was spectacular with the cauliflower. 10/10

This butter flavored with hay was shown at the table, as it was used to cook the next dish.

Confit of young cod loin with black garlic and a butter sauce (made from the same butter). The flakes of cod were perfectly cooked in the butter, very tender and juicy. That is quite a feat for cod. This was paired perfectly with a 2014 Chenin Blanc from New Zealand, that was very nicely aged and reminiscent of a Vouvray (also Chenin Blanc, but from the Loire Valley). 10/10

Next a historical dish that was on the menu when the chef had just taken over the restaurant back in 1993: steamed zander with tart apple syrup, bacon aged ‘in the attic’, crispy potato, chives, and celery. We also got this dish last year.

This was paired perfectly with a Crozes Hermitage, a blend of Marsanne and Rousanne from the Rhone Valley. 10/10

A T-bone of duck with a creamy fermented bell pepper sauce and unripe strawberry. This was nice, although not as nice as the duck T-bone with orange and chocolate from 2018. 9/10

This was paired with a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon from the famous “terra rossa” terroir. The wine itself was great, very smooth for a Cabernet, but we thought it overpowered the dish. This wine would be perfect for duck breast that was seared and served medium rare, but not for this dish. It didn’t clash and I can see why people who care more about blockbuster red wines than pairings would prefer it, but for us it didn’t work. We pointed this out, and we immediately were offered two other options: a red from Galicia and an Etna Rosso. The Spanish red was a bit acidic with the dish, but the Etna worked very well. I believe that an oaked rosé from Bandol such as Château Romassan would have been an even better pairing, but as usual restaurants prefer to have at least one red wine in the pairing.

Old Remeker cheese with foie gras and sherry, with similar ingredients as last year but a very different dish. Paired perfectly with half-sweet PX Sherry. 10/10

The dessert was cherries with almond and meadowsweet.

It came in three parts.

The third part was a drink. It was all paired perfectly with a Sauternes. 10/10

The petit fours were served on a map of the Netherlands. There may have been a connection between the sweets and the provinces they were served on, but by then I had had too much wine to pay attention to that.

The Librije sets the standard for food, wine, and service. The level of everything was as high as it has been consistently for years now: 10/10 for the food, 10/10 for the wine, and 9.5/10 for the service. We will be back in December.

8 thoughts on “Dining in the Netherlands: Librije*** (2021)

  1. What huge Sunday morning fun to open my on-line activities with your yearly critique of a meal at Librije !! The first time your 10s have come as abundantly as current gold medals at the Olympics 🙂 ! Was fascinated by the cauliflower dish and would have loved to taste the kombucha ! *smile* Yes, our Coonawarra Cab Sauv is quite a powerful drop . . . I still remember it was the second red wine to which I was seriously introduced as a 20-something novice – it did leave an impression and began my learning curve . . . All together you seem to have had a wonderful belated wedding anniversary . . . well, the next time is only six months away . . . !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The meal looks incredible and the hotel is really cool too, such interesting décor.
    We have a few days booked in Montreal, our first trip since 2020. We shall fly there to test the waters. I’m really hoping the stupid variant won’t get us back to lockdown, the businesses just can’t afford it, too many have already failed.

    Liked by 1 person

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