I don’t think I have written about De Viskêête yet, even though I’ve been coming here since 2008, when I first set foot in the Lowlands. I’ve reviewed so many restaurants on this blog but writing reviews becomes boring after a while. So this blog post is not a restaurant review.
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.
I can’t believe August is almost over. My birthday month passed by so quickly and how social it had been. Robin and I were able to see our common and respective friends in a span of three weeks. For an introvert like myself, that’s quite overwhelming. Although it had been stressful finding time to set up dinners, planning and cooking meals and finding places to take our friends out, it had been wonderful catching up with the people we’ve been missing for a while. Our August had been a series of dinner appointments, cocktail meet ups and lunch dates – a real culinary month.
We started the month with a dinner treat from my parents in-law at Brouwerij Emelisse, a proud Zeeuwse brewery in Kamperland, in the heart of Zeeland province. We sampled a very tender piece of free-range pork and the popular Zeeuwse mussels with strong glasses of blondes and triples. While the mussel bowl was less than impressive, the beers were surprisingly good. Who knew Zeeland could produce beers when it is so near Antwerp. At the end of the dinner, we were so happy that we’ve had a couple more glasses of wines while enjoying classic hits at home, leading me to a record hangover of two days, the worst I’ve had in five years. Surely a sign of aging.
I needed to work so on my birthday, Robin and I only went out for dinner. I’ve reserved the restaurant two weeks in advance because it was quite difficult to get here a seat here. I still haven’t found my perfect foie gras in Rotterdam so we tried them at De Harmonie. It was an enjoyable dinner that cost us two days salary but one we wouldn’t mind repeating. Hopefully I’d be able to blog about it soon.
On a Friday evening, we hosted a dinner at home for Robin’s friend and co-photographer Jan. He just came back from Korea and we wanted to hear his stories. We couldn’t prepare complicated dishes after a long day at the office but luckily his palate was not hard to please. We were able to impress him with a combination of crispy pork belly and sautéed shrimps and vegetables in coconut milk. Tired from stressful work week and from cooking, I fell asleep while viewing his photos.
On Sunday, Robin’s long time friend who’s living in England came over for a visit with his girlfriend. They requested cocktail and thank God Noah (the former Elit Bar which is now owned and operated by the head barman Erickson) was open on a Sunday evening, otherwise we wouldn’t know where to take them for a proper mix. First we’ve had a late lunch at Boguette, the popular Vietnamese sandwich place of Rotterdam. (No longer a Bougette virgin, I’ve come back several times during the week, for their pork special banh mi, beef summer rolls and lychee bubble tea with mango pops.)
After a boring Spido tour of the Rotterdam port, we went to Level for another round of cocktails. Unfortunately the cocktails were not as good as I remember and Lord how awful and tacky the names were (“John Lemon” are you f@”*# kidding me?!). Whoever thought of renaming those mixes should be fired. I used to come to Level for the ambiance and the great cocktails but now it has become some sort of an “in” place where people go to to be seen and have their Instagram photos taken. Not coming back soon.
Another tiring work week passed us by with barbecue dinner on a Thursday evening. We were already feeling the effects of late nights and alcohol and we were skipping on our running schedule. But the weekend loomed with more appointments – a wedding assignment for Robin and Jan, lunch date with my jet setting friend who was spending a week in the Lowlands and a Sunday with the in-laws before they take off to another 4-week vacation.
When you hardly see a friend whose taste in food is impeccable, you’d take her to the best restaurant in town. I took her to one of my favourite hip places in Rotterdam, FG Food Labs in Katshoek. You might remember it from my an ode to the pork belly post months ago. After I picked her up from the newly-renovated Rotterdam Central Station, we walked to the restaurant via Luchtsingel, that wooden bridge that connects Rotterdam Noord to the city centre, and enjoyed Michelin-star lunch with the sound of trains speeding by few feet away from our tables. It couldn’t be more “Rotterdams” than that.
We chose a set menu which turned out to be the best decision. We were treated to four incredible dishes, all of which blew our minds away especially that yoghurt-herb combination made exciting by a splash of nitrogen and the use of mortar and pastel. After champagne and a bottle of Tempranillo, we were too tipsy to continue our culinary afternoon so we ended the day with Nutella crepe and went home.
And finally today, I coerced the parents in-law to come with me to the Dag van Romantische Muziek at The Park (Het Park or the Eramus Park). If I had known that Limp Bizkit would be performing, I would probably be at Lowlands Festival this weekend but thankfully I learned it too late because #DVRM is way better. I couldn’t get enough of the soft, sultry voice of Viola Pieper especially when she sang Nature Boy. Sadly we had to leave early due to impending rain. We shared a sushi lunch at Itami at Willemshaven (not recommended, the sushi rice falls apart easily) and finished the day with drinks at Lebkov and Sons.
Tomorrow starts the last week of my birthday month. And then it’ll be another exciting, busy and stressful month which may lead me to freedom or more heartbreaks. But I’ll save that for the next blog. How’s your August so far?
P.S. You’ve probably noticed that I don’t have many food photos. Except for the dinner at De Harmonie, I decided to keep the camera off my food and instead enjoy my dining experience. I get more value that way. Snapping a shot of my meals has become old and tiring.
I don’t why it took me so long to discover Restaurant Zotte in Hillegersberg when it is just a stone’s throw away from my office. I’ve been here twice already and I am already planning to go back for the winter menu.
The most amazing things about Restaurant Zotte are 1) the unforgettable goat cheese cream that comes with the first amuse 2) the delicious banana, brownies and cream dessert amuse and 3) the owner Rene Cieremans who attends to his diners as if they are guests in his own house. He is also the head waiter and he can suggest the most appropriate wine for your meals. Probably that’s why I am always tipsy when I leave.
Last September I made sure to dine there for their monthly specialty – King Crab. Rene mentioned it the first time I ate at Zotte and because I enjoyed the food, the wine and I was craving for crabs, I promised to come back.
Restaurant Zotte did not disappoint. My steamed King Crab meal served with grilled coquille, sweet potato cream, seaweeds and “schuim” of smoked butter. Sounds and looks delicious? It tasted even better.
I skipped the appetizer because I wanted to prepare my taste buds for a dish as special as a king crab but of course, there was first an amuse. Unfortunately I forgot what it’s called. It was delicious, that I remember.
I always drink Reisling when I eat at Zotte. I tend to stick to the first drink that I found delicious. I had another kind of white wine with my king crab but helaas I can’t find the name on their website.
After the main course, the banana, brownies and cream amuse was served. It was so good that I asked if I can have it as full dessert. Unfortunately, it is served only as amuse. I’m starting to think that these amuses are the chef’s way of making customers come back and it obviously works for me.
Rene was so nice to include another small glass of the dessert amuse with my main dessert, Crème Brulée of vanilla with chocolade mouse and Tia Maria liquer served with espresso ice cream.