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Kaagman & Kortekaas in Amsterdam

Rating: 86.
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In september 2015 chef Giel Kaagman and sommelier Bram Kortekaas opened their eponymous bistro-style restaurant bang in the middle of the centre of Amsterdam, near De Nieuwe Kerk. The duo has gained experience in renowned restaurants in Amsterdam. Most recently they both worked at French restaurant Bordewijk and before the opening of the restaurant, Bram Kortekaas worked briefly at Rotisserie Rijsel. The restaurant has quickly become one of the hottest tables in Amsterdam, and it has received a bunch of praising reviews in the Dutch press.

Kaagman & Kortekaas is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday and they offer a compact, weekly-changing a la carte menu (starters €15.50-€24.50, mains €24.50-€32.50), and there's a tasting menu (3 courses €36.50, 4 courses €44, 5 courses €52.50, 6 courses €56.50). I had dinner with my husband at Kaagman & Kortekaas on Wednesday 20 January 2016 and we both ordered the 6-course tasting menu. (apologies for the quality of the photographs)

Whilst deciding what to order, we were served two appetisers. First to arrive was a delicious and well-pressed mouflon sheep paté topped with pickled crosnes and gherkins, followed by a yellowfin tuna tartar served on a slice of pickled turnip, and seasoned with citrus and white pepper. A nice bite but also quite acidic.

The first course of the tasting menu was lightly marinated mackerel, served with thinly sliced coppa, burnt onion, a small spoonful of crab salad, blood orange, puntarelle, onion and chive puree, and a blood orange-flavoured crisp. A busy plate with many flavours, which worked individually, but didn't really come together. 

Second course was a piece of turbot paired with langoustine, rabbit sausage, Jerusalem artichoke puree and crisps, pickled monk's beard, and a sauce Americaine. This dish was a little more convincing, but again there was too much going on on the plate. I liked the combination of the langoustine, rabbit sausage and Jerusalem artichoke, but somehow I felt that the turbot could have been left out.

Kaagman & Kortekaas has an open kitchen, and at the beginning of the meal I had spotted a large tray of beautiful home-made Vol-au-vent cases, the main ingredient of the next course. The vol-au-vent case was just as I hoped it would be: buttery, crunchy, and filled with rich and creamy mushroom ragout seasoned with some mint, which delivered a nice touch of lightness. The ragout also contained cock's combs and testicles. I realise that raving about off-piste ingredients like these raises your street cred as a gourmand, but for me they missed the mark in this dish. A vol-au-vent with cock's combs and testicles is not uncommon (Antonin Carême already used them in his "Les Petits Vol-au-Vents a la Nesle"), but here the combs were disappointingly bland and had an unpleasant, rubbery texture; the testicles were soft but tasteless. 

Best dish of the evening was some perfectly tender roebuck fillet, accompanied by roebuck chorizo, roebuck terrine, ratte potato, a mixture of crisp potato and artichoke, and a saffron jus. A wonderful and skillful dish with attractive flavours and superb roebuck fillet. The jus on the other hand, could have done with more saffron. (I forgot to take a photograph)

The cheese course was some delicious Laguiole cheese served with quince compote and crackers. This was followed by a dessert of pear and frangipane tart, white chocolate crème dusted with kaffir lime powder, yoghurt ice cream, a tarragon-yoghurt-kaffir lime macaron, and some buttery crumbs. A satisfying dessert with a good balance between freshness and comfort.

My meal at Kaagman & Kortekaas was a mixed bag. The restaurant is a lively and buzzy place with interesting food. There's talent and creativity here, and an original choice of ingredients, but I also felt that some dishes lacked focus and hadn't really been thought through. I guess a weekly-changing menu has the drawback that there's very little time to develop and fine-tune dishes. Service was friendly but inconsisent. Nevertheless, I did have a good time at Kaagman & Kortekaas, there's something about the place, and I would like to return, but only if they invest in a good ventilation system: because of its open kitchen my hair and clothes smelled like a chippy when I left the restaurant.

Kaagman & Kortekaas
Sint Nicolaasstraat 43

Posted 16-02-2016


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