Restaurant Vis en Ko

Vis en Ko Haarlem

This week’s post features Haarlem’s restaurant Vis en Ko. The restaurant can best be described as a seafood restaurant, serving you the freshest seafood from Dutch waters (or so they claim). We booked a table last weekend during Restaurantweek and were served a splendid menu of what the restaurant has to offer. Here’s what we had.

Vis en Ko Haarlem

Vis en Ko Haarlem

Vis en Ko Haarlem

Vis en Ko Haarlem

Vis en Ko Haarlem
Vis en Ko Haarlem
Vis en Ko Haarlem
Vis en Ko Haarlem

Vis en Ko Haarlem

Salmon lightly seared in Tandoori spices, served with basmati rice and sweet and pickled vegetables, a lemon yoghurt and a spiced crisp. This was our first introduction to chef Jacco Calf’s kitchen and one of my personal favourites. What a bold move to sear salmon in Indian spices – it was absolutely delicious. The wine paired by our wine steward was a 2013 Weingut Winter Riesling from Rheinhessen, Germany, the perfect wine to highlight this light and spiced dish.

Vis en Ko Haarlem

Brill with a watercress crust, beets, a celeriac puree, tempura of smoked eel and a light Dijon sauce. Presentation-wise, this could have been better. It felt like we had these four components put on the plate randomly. I loved the puree, red beet and smoked eel tempura, the watercress brill couldn’t have been more pronounced. I did think all together the components were well-balanced. Wine paired: a 2013 Domaine des Cantarelles, Costieres de Nimes, from Rhone, France.

Vis en Ko Haarlem

Steamed Atlantic cod with a dim sum-style fried shrimp toast with sesame, Chinese cabbage, soy beans, shiitake mushrooms and a Dashi and shiitake stock. Served with a daikon dumpling on top. This combination felt familiar. We’ve had a similar dish before at Nobu among others. The saltiness from a dashi and shiitake stock works well with white, meaty fish. I couldn’t complain on this one. It was simple, clean – just lovely. Wine paired: a 2012 Clos des Fous Chardonnay, Terroir de les Andes, Chili.

Vis en Ko Haarlem

Poached pear with a pecan cake, topped with a cream of caramel, a dollop of pear cream and hazelnut ice cream. Plated beautifully on the cake side; could have used a little more edit on the other components. The cake was gorgeous combined with the caramel cream. Wine paired: a 2004 Moscatel do Douro Reserva, from Douro, Portugal.

Vis en Ko Haarlem

A range of cheeses. Wine paired: a 2009 Quinta do Portal, LBV Port, from Douro, Portugal.

Vis en Ko Haarlem

Vis en Ko Haarlem

Vis en Ko Haarlem

Imko Binnerts’ staff certainly knows what they’re doing. I didn’t know the restaurant when I booked the table but I’m pleasantly surprised. The salmon dish was light but probably the most memorable dish. The Atlantic cod with shiitake and dashi was a safe play from the chef, but executed beautifully and it definitely resulted in a win. All in all, it was a great discover and a restaurant I’d like to visit again in the future. The service was outstanding. One remark though: when we were asked our opinion on the brill dish, K reflected toward the second maître of staff that it wasn’t all too exciting for him, to which the maître pointed out that he had never had such a comment before. There was a visible discontent and we never saw him again the rest of the evening. In fact – and I really hope we misunderstood this – we witnessed him passing up on serving us from that dish onwards. This made us feel slightly uneasy. There was no malcontent behind our remark. If anything, we wanted to open a dialogue. We’re all foodies here! But the maître’s negative approach was well-compensated by the overtly kind and knowledgable sommelier of the evening, whose enthusiasm for food (and wine) is what makes a customer want to come back again for a second visit.

Visit Vis en Ko at Spaarne 96,  2011 CL Haarlem / open on Tuesdays (closed for lunch) to Sundays / +31 (0)23 512 7990