Dining in the Netherlands: Librije*** (December 2022)

We have been celebrating the anniversary of our first date with a dinner at Librije for years now, although in 2020 and 2021 the restaurant was closed due to Covid and we had to go to Librije on another date. But this year we could celebrate our 23rd anniversary on the proper date. Because our dinner for December 2021 had been postponed to May 2022, this calendar year we went to Librije twice.

Librije is the best restaurant in the Netherlands, which is internationally recognized with many awards as well as three Michelin stars. It is run by chef Jonnie Boer (no relation) and host/sommelier Thérèse Boer. As we have been coming here every year since 2005, it is starting to feel like a home away from home. Food, wine, and hospitality are all outstanding. The 8-course tasting menu is 275 euros, matching wines are 115 euros (including refills). We added cheese (30 euros).

We started off with a nice champagne made from equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, with the base wines aged in oak.

The amuses bouches started with an edible rose with spicy beetroot, crispy carrot with baharat, and sunchoke with pistachios.

Every three months, Librije highlights another supplier in their ‘passport of flavor’. This time around it was a snail, smoked trout, and Dutch ‘kimchi’.

The smoked trout was my favorite, which was served in the beak of a smoked trout.

The first wine was a Riesling Kabinett from Rheinhessen from limestone terroir, off-dry and with nice minerality.

Two out of the eight dishes of the tasting menu were the same as our previous visit in May, and this was the first of them: foie gras with North sea shrimp, tomato water, and lime zest. The sommelier had noticed that we had not fully enjoyed the previous wine pairing with this dish, and so made a change for us this time. This pairing was excellent, because the richness of this wine could handle the foie gras perfectly.

The bread with fermented seeds was served with goat butter enriched with grape juice as usual, but the presentation of the goat butter had improved quite a bit.

The second wine was a dry Furmint from Hungary, by the winery Oremus that is known for its sweet Tokaji and is now owned by Vega Sicilia from Spain.

It was an excellent pairing for the langoustine ceviche, which was ‘cooked’ in fermented cabbage juice and finished tableside on a hot stone with mushroom powder.

There was also Dutch ginger (regular ginger but grown in the Netherlands) included in this dish. The langoustine had great flavor and texture and I liked it even better than the langoustine in different variations of kombucha that the chef has been serving for years. The wine pairing was great and the wine could even handle the ginger.

The following wine was a Jurançon Sec from France, which had been aged in wood and was very creamy.

It was again an outstanding pairing with the scallop, cooked for 5 minutes in spiced oil at 70C/158F and served with foam of barbecued pumpkin and fir tops.

I am not usually a fan of foams, but this foam actually had flavor. The creaminess of the wine was excellent with the creaminess of the scallop.

Next was a 2015 Chassagne-Montrachet, a wonderful oaked Chardonnay that had everything one could wish for in a white Burgundy (minerality, power, balance).

The Chassagne was paired with two dishes, but we were not complaining about that. The first dish was sole with mushrooms and a beurre noisette sauce. The sole was perfectly cooked and moist. The wine was excellent with it.

This dish also included a razor clam and a cockle.

The other dish paired with the Chassagne was romanesco cauliflower, baked in clay with coffee, and served with a curry of indian cress and cashews. This is the third time this dish was included, but the presentation had changed somewhat since the last rendition. Since only a small part of the romanesco was used, we asked Thérèse what they did with all the leftover romanesco. She said it was used for the staff meals. I suggested to slow-roast the romanesco for 2-3 hours at 160C/320F, which concentrates the flavor and my favorite way of preparing cauliflower. She said it sounded good, so perhaps the Librije staff will be having slow-roasted romanesco soon.

We had mentioned to the sommelier that we don’t like young tannic wines, and he had definitely listened, because the wine with the main course was a Saint-Julien Clos du Marquis from 1999! This is the ‘second wine’ of Château Léoville Las Cases, and it was outstanding. Very nicely aged with velvety tannins, but still powerful. Cabernet Sauvignon 72%, Merlot 16%, Cabernet Franc 7%, Petit Verdot 5%.

This wine was excellent with the hare with crispy Brussels sprouts, sauce royale (with chocolate), and turmeric sauce.

To accompany the cheese we chose a nice glass of red Burgundy (Pinot Noir), a 2016 Vosne-Romanée. It had very nice minerality and balance.

The cheese cart has a large selection of Dutch cheeses.

These were the cheeses that were selected for us to go with the wine. Especially the two on the bottom were excellent with the wine.

The wine for the first dessert was a nice Barsac.

The dessert included legumes, coconut, and peanut, as well as a bit of red chillies.

The wine with the second dessert was a nice Madeira. It was quite fresh, as Madeira usually is, but it did work very well with the dessert.

The dessert was pears poached with cinnamon, a Dutch classic but presented in a lovely way, with coffee, and bergamot.

This was probably our best dinner at Librije yet, especially in terms of the wine pairings that were all outstanding. Food and service were as excellent as always. We can’t wait for next year!

7 thoughts on “Dining in the Netherlands: Librije*** (December 2022)

  1. Stefan – congratulations and felicitations to Kees and yourself naturally . . . and, thank you ! I am reading this on Christmas Day morning in a year I am living as a hermit and Scrooge because of broken bones slow to heal. So this annual delight of yours will kinda be my ‘Christmas Dinner’ . . . I’ll be enjoying calamari and just one Chardonnay somewhat pedestrian compared to anything on your list 🙂 ! The whole menu wildly attracts, and I so wish I was there to taste the langoustine and the very unusual scallop . . . . lucky you . . . . hope you two have a very, very happy day !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The trout beak caught my eye. It’s that sort of approach to presentation which I really appreciate. I’d want to dissect the head and then get to the smoked trout in the beak.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations to you both and what a beautiful way to celebrate your first date. The meal looks and sounds absolutely wonderful. How nice that the Sommelier remembered your preferences and served accordingly, I am sure that being a regular is a real bonus.

    Liked by 1 person

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