An oasis of peace. That’s what you’ll find in Amsterdam’s Zuidas. And at the foot of the Symphony high-rise, is Bolenius, a restaurant that is as serene as its location in the business district.
Owned by Luc Kusters and Xavier Giesen, Bolenius serves Dutch-inspired dishes and was awarded their first Michelin star last year. It may have come as a surprise to the team (which just shows how incredibly humble and unassuming they are), but certainly not to their guests. I used to live right around the corner. And being practically the only fine-dining option (then) in the neighborhood, it was a restaurant we loved to frequent. Bolenius is also one of the restaurants that I featured at the beginning of my blogging journey and I hadn’t been back since. So it was extra special for me to go back and discover what Luc and Xavier have been up to since then!
One of the restaurant’s prized features, is their ‘moestuin’ or vegetable garden. Right in the middle of the concrete jungle. In the garden you’ll find a variety of herbs, root vegetables and other greens. It is the heart of the restaurant and is what distinguishes the restaurant from others. Xavier talks passionately about the new seasonal produce. The garden produce is featured in several dishes on the menu and even highlighted in their ‘moestuin van de Zuidas’ dish, with asparagus, radish, silverskin onion, turnip and rhubarb. A wonderfully light and fresh summer starter.
On the menu
The Zuidas Vegetable garden (‘moestuin’)
Spaghetti of asparagus with clams
Halibut with ramson, garden beans and morel
Ham in hay with asparagus and potatoes
Red beet out of clay and Amsterdam pickles
Rhubarb with asparagus ice cream and strawberry
From the starter, we move on to a creamy and (insanely) satisfying dish of asparagus spaghetti with clams and caviar (one of my highlights) and a beautiful halibut with ramson dish.
For our main, we’re served a Dutch feast of ham out of hay, a traditional Limburg dish we’re told, cut table-side, with a table full of sides like potatoes, asparagus, quail eggs and apple syrup. The ham is prepared using old techniques of curing meat for 48 hours and slow-cooking it in a hay chest for 24 hours. It doesn’t get more Dutch than this! I love the boldness of the chefs to go for a course as traditional as this. It’s an hommage to the Dutch past and the restaurant isn’t afraid to stick with Dutch flavors. The ham and apple syrup – I could go for another round again!
Another treat finished table-side was the beet cooked in clay and salt. With a hammer, the clay is smashed and the beet inside is sliced into thin pieces and finished off with pickles.
To end the lunch, we’re served a stunning dessert of rhubarb, asparagus ice cream and strawberry. This was one of our highlights of this year. A dessert that is sweet and savory at the same time – a flavor sensation that is so unique for a dessert. Beautifully balanced, sweet, tart and a slight umami hint at the end.
We’re witnessing an explosion of restaurants opening up every week in Amsterdam. But only a handful are doing things worth talking about. At Bolenius they do things their own way. From sticking to Dutch glory and introducing guests to flavors and techniques from the past. And enticing foodies, who are almost always meat-lovers, with dishes where vegetables are the star, succeeding in something other restaurants could only dream of. I don’t know how they’re doing it, but they’re doing it!
Find Bolenius at George Gershwinlaan 30 (Symphony Tower) in Amsterdam.