Birthday dinner at De Harmonie
I was looking for an excuse to go back to restaurant De Harmonie after the dinner served during the New Year’s borrel of the company where Robin works for. The food was so delicious, the wine was overflowing and I remembered they served foie gras. I am crazy about foie gras, the thick, supple and firm kind of goose liver, like the one that I’ve had in Antwerp years ago. Not the terrine type masquerading in most menus here in the Netherlands because there’s too much pressure from animal rights activists. But also not the kind that they served me at Rodin a few months back. My birthday was a good excuse. Just to be sure, I booked one week in advance because it’s very hard to get a table.
On a Tuesday night, the restaurant was full. All the tables in the garden at the back were occupied even though an impending rain might soon send us inside. It wasn’t very warm and I hesitated to sit in the garden at first but thankfully, it stayed dry the whole evening.
The wait staff were friendly, attentive and professional, all expected because De Harmonie is not exactly a cheap restaurant. No matter how much it tries to project itself as an affordable tent with its €15/dish menu, De Harmonie can never be affordable. Really, who gets full with a small serving of steak tartar for lunch? Combine that with a glass of wine and you’d easily shell out €30.
We opened our meal with a glass of champagne each, the most expensive on the sparkling wine list. It was my birthday and I deserved a toast for staying alive till 31. But had I seen that they have their own version of kir royale, I would have opted for that. It’s a lot cheaper. Not wanting to make it difficult for ourselves to choose from the compact menu, we decided on a five-course meal.
Clearly, I didn’t take notes during dinner but here’s a collage of what we’ve had. Two amuses, the one with cherry tomatoes blew our minds away (top centre) and appetizers of mullet and potatoes, poached egg, and steak tartare with lobster. The best of the appetizer trio was that poached egg with the green ice cream. I couldn’t remember the ingredient but it was very refreshing. The combination of that green ice cream, mashed sweet potato and egg yolk gives your mouth a velvety, rush of great flavours.
However, I don’t know what that pop corn was doing in my fish meal (top right). I really think it didn’t belong there, not for taste nor for garnish. Robin had a feast with the unlimited, freshly-baked bread with porcini butter, which didn’t taste as gross as it looked. It was delicious but excrement comes to mind, I don’t know why.
I gave strict instructions to include the quail with foie gras and pear in my meal. The foie gras was wonderful, supple and firm. But just too small. I probably finished it in three bites. What can I say? This is the Netherlands after all. We downed our meal with a bottle of 2012 Palazzo Maffei Ripasso della Valpolicella. Not the best ripasso I’ve had but it goes well with the quail.
Like I said, the staff was attentive. They overheard me toasting (ok, I might have whispered a tad harder) for my birthday. So they gave me a pretty plate of what I think was cheesecake, moist, not overly sweet and garnished with seasonal fruits. A truly delectable way to end a cozy birthday meal. The bill? €206 including tip. I’ll skip the champagne and dessert wine next time.
Photos by me and Robin Kuijs.