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Ron Blaauw in Amsterdam: relocated and revisited

Rating: 94.
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Note: In April 2013 Ron Blaauw relaunched his restaurant as Ron Gastrobar, see my review here

My last visit to Ron Blaauw restaurant had been on 21 February 2011. The lunch I had there was the last service at the old venue in Ouderkerk a/d Amstel (a delightful little village just a stone's throw from Amsterdam) before the restaurant moved to Amsterdam proper. It was in Ouderkerk a/d Amstel that Ron Blaauw was awarded its first Michelin star in 2003 (2004 guide) and a second star followed in 2005 (2006 guide). Since March 2011 Ron Blaauw has occupied new premises in the exclusive 'Oud Zuid' area in Amsterdam whilst retaining its two Michelin stars. Oud Zuid is a rather posh area in the Dutch capital; perhaps you could say that Oud Zuid is to Amsterdam what Mayfair is to London (each on its own scale of course). So, about time I paid the relocated restaurant a visit.

Ron Blaauw is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday till Saturday (no lunch on Saturday). During lunch and dinner the restaurant offers several multi-course menus. Do check their website for the latest info. I had lunch at Ron Blaauw with my husband and a friend on Friday 3 August 2012 and we all had a multi-course tasting menu with dishes selected by the chef.

We started off with 6 amuse-bouches: (1) Red pepper madeleine with chorizo powder (no picture) - (2) Puffs filled with lemon verbena-flavoured yoghurt and mackerel, lovely crunch from the puff and lovely layered flavours - (3) Egg filled with scrambled egg, mushrooms and spring onions - (4) Tomato terrine with Moroccan spices, sweet milk crumble, basil and ricotta cream, a very nice combination of flavours and textures, the spices added a lovely depth of flavour - (5) Chilled onion soup with sauerkraut and a Parmesan crisp, delicious, loved the intense onion and sauerkraut flavours - (6) Textures of cucumber: finely chopped, jelly and a large cube served with Tom Ka Kai foam and coconut pearls, lovely refreshing and precise flavours and because of the different textures you get a different aspect of the cucumber flavour every time.

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The first course was Steak tartare made from blade steak, tarragon powder, Béarnaise foam, pickle 'spaghetti', pommes soufflés, fried potato brunoise, sliced shallots and smoked mayonnaise. Very well-made steak tartare, the blade steak provided great texture and almost creamy beef flavours. The Béarnaise foam was nice and sharp. Nice crunch from the very finely chopped brunoise potato and pommes soufflés. The smoked mayonnaise was delicious and had a wonderful hint of smokiness. A playful and balanced dish.

Second course: Poached oyster, caviar, cauliflower puree, horseradish, potatoes, chive oil. A gloriously plumptious and perfectly poached oyster served with a generous dollop of caviar on top. Lovely creamy cauliflower puree and delicious potatoes which had a nice bite to them. Wonderful combination of earthy and salty flavours and well-judged use of horseradish which provided a nice touch of heat in the aftertaste. A harmonious and elegant dish that was full of flavour.

Third course was Brill, roasted leek, anchovy puree, spinach and beetroot leaf salad, smoked eel, beurre blanc foam, leek dust. Perfectly fried crispy brill that went really well with the roasted leek which had lovely sweet and bitter flavours and a well-judged hint of smoke. Brilliant leek dust. Inside the roasted leek was a fantastic creamy and salty anchovy puree. Nice meaty piece of smoked eel. A superb dish with a beautiful balance and interplay between salty and bitter flavours.

On to the fourth course: Sweetbread, Indonesian boemboe (curry paste) cream, runner bean, fresh peas, pea cream, peanuts, aceto balsamico. A beautiful moist and crispy sweetbread served with some lovely fresh peas and a delicious creamy pea puree. The boemboe cream was fantastic and combined really well with the rest of the ingredients. An absolutely splendid dish with amazing flavours and textures, lovely elegant Oriental notes from the boemboe while the peanuts added texture and contrast.

Fifth course: Chicken served on two plates. First the breast and thigh, which were both moist and very flavoursome, served with green cabbage leaves stuffed with bone marrow, lovely juicy morels and some lovely clear chicken juices. On the second plate was some excellent homemade baby gnocchi, a fabulous soft and runny 'golden' egg and an absolutely beautiful and delicious miniature chicken made with chicken forcemeat. An incredibly skilled and truly sensational chicken dish. The golden egg in this dish refers to the Dutch version of the expression 'the goose that lays the golden egg' - the Dutch expression refers to a chicken however rather than a goose.

On to the sixth course: Goose liver poached in orange and peach liqueur, fresh almonds and sliced peach. Gorgeous moist but still firm goose liver which went perfectly with the sliced peaches and fresh almonds. A surprising and beautiful combination of flavours. The freshness and lightness of this dish was extraordinary. Brilliantly executed too.

Seventh course Cheese. A lovely selection of well-matured cheeses served with fig chutney and raspberry and wasabi chutney and some lovely crisp sourdough.

Eight course Cherries, white chocolate, rose and yoghurt. A beautifully made white chocolate and cherry ball with a cherry, yoghurt and rose filling flambéed with a cherry liqueur. Wonderful fresh flavours with nice floral notes. The cherry stalk was made with bread dough.

Ninth and last course Meadowsweet ice cream and fresh blackberries served in a wonderfully crisp cone made with filo pastry.

With our coffees we were served some Ron Blaauw classics: three sweets disguised as typical Dutch bar snacks, a chocolate 'bitterbal' with a caramel filling, strawberry 'sausage' and passionfruit 'cheese'.

This was an excellent meal. Ron Blaauw is the kind of chef who has a natural creativity which allows him to keep on re-inventing himself and the dishes he serves. I found it interesting that, even though the food clearly bears the signature of the chef, there was a marked difference between the food I enjoyed 18 months ago and the dishes that Ron Blaauw served to me on this recent visit. In a way this time the food seemed more gutsy to me but also more relaxed, quiet, confident and focused. There is no lack of consistency however: the quality and variety of the ingredients continues to be exceptional and the flavours are pure and clean as always. Ron Blaauw continues to embrace the latest developments in gastronomy always remaining true to himself, thus effortlessly integrating these developments into new dishes or versions of dishes that are (still) very much his own. 

Ron Blaauw is a chef and restaurateur who believes in the importance of personal relationships, not in the least with his staff and his suppliers whom he counts among his friends. In the Dutch fine dining scene Ron Blaauw is also known for his sometimes iconoclastic tendencies and bold opinions. He has long been one of the advocates of informal fine-dining and with his restaurant in Amsterdam he is providing just that. His is a restaurant with a cosmopolitan feel that has clearly filled a gap and quickly has become one of the gastronomic hotspots of Amsterdam.


Posted 22-08-2012


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