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Bord'eau in Amsterdam - 2 Michelin stars (2014 review)

Rating: 94.
Rating index:
Extraordinary (96-100)
Outstanding (93-95)
Very good to Excellent (89-92)
Above average to Good (86-88)
Below Average to Average (80-85)
Avoid (below 80)
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Note: Chefs Richard van Oostenbrugge and Thomas Groot have left Bord'eau to start their own restaurant called 212, see my review here

You were quick to pick up on this one. What do you mean? Well, the restaurant had been open for less than a year when you wrote in your October 2012 review: "Surely a Michelin star in next year's guide is a matter of course". True. And, did it happen? Yep, they got their first star in November 2012. Have you been back since your review? Yes I have, five times in fact; I realised that this restaurant was going places and I wanted to keep abreast of developments. Did Michelin agree with your positive view? Emphatically so; they even awarded a second star in November 2013. Remind me, who runs the show at this place? They believe in teamwork at this establishment. The kitchens are headed up by Richard Oostenbrugge (executive chef) and Thomas Groot (head chef), while Robert Kranenborg consults; the 8,000 bottle wine cellar is presided over by Dannis Apeldoorn and Daphne Oudshoorn. Maitre d'Hôtel Richard Eerhardt reigns supreme in the dining room. You have visited this restaurant six times in the last two years; where do you think they stand by now? Well, read on...

(courtesy of Bord'eau)

Bord'eau is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday till Saturday (no lunch on Saturdays). The restaurant offers an a la carte menu (starters €28 - €58, mains €43 - €63). Some of the mains can be ordered half-size. There is a 5-course tasting menu for €98, a 6-course tasting menu for €108, and a (bargain) set lunch menu: 3 courses for €38. I had lunch at Bord'eau with my husband on Friday 3 October 2014 and we both ordered the 6-course tasting menu. * I was recognised

Lunch started with a selection of amuse bouches, the first two being (i) tender razor clam coated with a Pernod sauce, and (ii) a smooth oyster crème served with red wine vinegar pearls, that had a soft, gel-like texture, and were garnished with some shallot. Next to arrive was a sot-l'y-laisse (chicken oyster) dipped in Albufera sauce, flavoured with liver and coffee and accompanied by an elegant, jellied bouillon. It is this bouillon in which the chicken was cooked, but served at room temperature. The mild flavouring with lovage really enhanced the flavours of the bouillon.

This was followed by salt-baked heritage beetroot, served with a fresh horseradish ice cream, horseradish pearls, fermented beetroot powder, a drop of raspberry vinegar and garnished with mustard flowers. A lovely combination with well-balanced flavours and the vinegar delivered a nice long finish.

The final amuse bouche was potato cooked in bone marrow juices, placed on a mirror of oxtail jelly, and filled with veal tartare and crème fraîche, and topped with a strip of thin, crisp sourdough toast, covered with soft bone marrow and a spoonful of caviar. I have thoroughly enjoyed this sublime amuse bouche on previous occasions, including a a full-blown version during my lunch in July 2013. It is one of my favourite dishes at Bord' eau; the flavours are precise and the combination strikes a perfect balance between richness, intensity and freshness.

First course of the tasting menu was a beautifully presented dish of lightly dressed, moist and creamy Oosterschelde crab (including the crab liver), covered with thinly sliced avocado (brushed with smoked oil), and served on a layer of delicately flavoured crab jelly. On top of the dome-shaped crab was a crab beignet, lacquered with a crab reduction and filled with tender crab leg meat. A complex medley of polished crab flavours, capturing the characteristics of the crab body and leg meat wonderfully. The fattiness of the avocado added a wonderful creaminess to the dish.

An elegant dish of langoustine and foie gras followed. Tender, translucent langoustine, served with a langoustine 'tea', delicately flavoured with coffee, carrot and finished with some grated, iced foie gras and some grated tangerine zest. The tea married well with the langoustine and the iced foie gras delivered a lovely temperature/flavour contrast.

Next up were soft potato gnocchi with a creamy Parmesan cheese centre, served simply with an intense chicken jus and a grating of white truffle. A very pleasing dish, the chicken jus having a fantastic, "from beak to tail feather", complexity and the truffle added a nice, aromatic dimension to the dish. 

Fourth course was turbot topped with croutons and veal bone marrow, served with a fish Bordelaise sauce and chard (leaves and stem). The fish Bordelaise was of extraordinary quality and it had an incredible depth of flavour, as if you were tasting fishbone and red wine concentrate. Lovely, nicely caramelised turbot, but it was ever so slightly overcooked. Its texture was firm and a bit dry rather than soft and moist. That said, this was still a dish of exceptional elegance with wonderful, profound flavours.

On to the fifth course, Chicken à la Royale, a take on the classic Lièvre à la Royale. In short: boned, stuffed (usually with foie gras and truffles) and rolled hare, served with a sauce made with the hare's blood. This iconic dish features on the menu at Bord'eau during the winter months, but this was the first time I encountered their chicken version. So: a very flavoursome and succulent slice of boned and rolled chicken (breast and leg meat), stuffed with liver and black truffle, complemented by a delicious 'Royale' sauce (reduced chicken stock and red wine, flavoured with liver and blood), and served with baby turnips and salted lemon puree. A delightful and skilful dish, the bitters of the turnips and lemon puree balancing the richness in this dish perfectly.

Last course was Bord'eau's celebrated, visually stunning, signature Apple Dessert. A blown sugar 'apple' with an apple sorbet 'core' and chocolate 'pips' on a puff pastry ring base, filled with salted caramel and apple balls marinated in lemon verbena. I first had this dessert in December 2013 and I have been a fan of it ever since. Even though the flavours are relatively simple, its originality and appearance are absolutely striking.

It is a traditional truism that you recognise a great chef by the quality of his sauces. It is certainly true at Bord'eau and I have been bowled over by their sauces on many occasions - the fish Bordelaise was a case in point this time. A great sauce however is not only a thing of beauty in the eye of the beholder; it is also testimony to the classical, technical excellence of the chefs who have prepared them. They indeed know their stuff at this restaurant; the technically accomplished cuisine at Bord'eau is whole-heartedly based on the French classics. On the other hand there are plenty original, creative and modern elements too and this results in food that appeals to traditionalists and modernists alike. The dishes are complex in make-up and cooked with excellent ingredients and exemplary consistency. Bord' eau is a symbiosis rather than a compromise between classical and modern and this is also borne out in the dining room (relaxed service but with white gloves, linen and crystal) and on the wine list (eclectic but old-world based). The improvements made here in the last two years have been gradual but consistent and, overall, marked. In the past two years I have got to know Bord'eau as a restaurant that rarely misses a beat and it is convincingly fulfilling its promise.

Posted 20-10-2014


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