Either I’ve been away for too long or I’ve been sleeping, but Amsterdam is slowly becoming a food hub in Europe. I feel like every time I’m back in Amsterdam, people are talking about a new hotspot that has opened in the city. Giving out recommendations to Londoners nowadays means handing out lists of my favorite restaurants to try. Amsterdam is, I proudly say, home to many good restaurants these days.
And this restaurant is no exception. My last visit to Amsterdam brought me to Restaurant C, an initiative of chefs Michiel van der Eerde (trained at Hoefslag, Bokkedoorns, Oudsluis) and Arnout van der Kolk (former sous chef at Amsterdam’s two-Michelin starred Ciel Bleu). Javier, our host for the day, explained C‘s menu to us, a most peculiar concept.
We start with a Japanese inspired dish of slow-cooked salmon teriyaki with wakame, enoki mushrooms, spring onions and vegetables. The structure of the sous vide salmon was incredibly soft and tender, unlike any salmon I’ve had. A stunning dish with sweet and textured contrasts we finished within seconds. The second dish was a pork belly with hoisin, curry, paksoi and crushed peanuts, a gorgeous soul food dish. The curry drops of this predominantly South-East Asian dish balanced off greatly against the tangy sweetness of the hoisin.
C‘s menu consists of dishes that are prepared between 0 and 200 degrees Celsius – hence C. Where a regular menu is divided into starters, mains and desserts, C‘s menu is differentiated into the 0 – 20 degrees group, 40 – 80, 100 and 200 (and desserts from -20 – 0), starting from cold and raw dishes, building up your way to hot and grilled (and then cold again).
It’s not just a gimmick though; at C it’s all about constructing the perfect dishes by playing with different temperatures and cooking methods and finding the right balance between contrasting textures and tastes.
We continue from with a lobster, resting majestically on a bed of gnocchi, a parmesan crisp and basil. This dish was a pure delight. Very rarely do you see gnocchi on menus in Amsterdam (or I’m not going to the right places perhaps). It is often mispronounced by Dutch people as well. I’ve heard gnotsjie, gnokkie, or, my favorite pronunciation, knokkie (I swear to god). This dish is light on the contrast side, rather ‘safe’ actually, but it’s a classic and you don’t need to change classics.
We end with a banana, coconut and toffee dish and a chocolate, coffee, macadamia and basil ice cream dish. The latter was a welcome surprise. The last time I had basil ice cream was at Gordon Ramsay’s a few years back. It was in a time when herb-infused ice cream flavors were all the rage. Innovative restaurants introduced the wildest flavors like basil, rosemary, mint, thyme and even shiso. In herbs you sometimes find the most amazing contrasts with sweets. It’s not for everyone, I agree.
The basil in this dish worked wonderfully with the chocolate mousse and macadamia bits, if only for the fond memories it brought back. It’s two tastes at odds but it made for an interesting combination.
The verdict? The buzz around town sometimes prove to be rather disappointing but that is not the case with C. This trending restaurant is what makes us foodies (and food photographers) go wild. We were all smiles after we finished and we were curious to see the rest of the menu. I guess we’ll have to save that for the next time!