Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Bord’Eau Restaurant Gastronomique
Hotel de L’Europe
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 2-14,
1012 CP Amsterdam,
+31 20 531 1777
I have been visiting the Netherlands since the early 1960s when I was working in the family’s exclusive porcelain and crystal business in Athens, Greece, and used Amsterdam as a base to visit the porcelain producers in Delft. Royal Delft Porceleyne Fles was one of the high-end manufacturers our company represented for Greece and the Middle East, and I would travel to the Netherlands twice a year to place wholesale and retail orders for their famous Delft blue decorative ware.
At the time I would treat myself to lunch in the dining room of Hotel de L’Europe, a centrally located Grand Dame property just a walk from the Dam and the main shopping area. I would sit at what is now the gracious Bord’Eau Restaurant Gastronomique, which has a Michelin-star rating. I’m not sure I knew whether the restaurant was starred at the time, but they made exceptional Tournedos and had a nice wine list, so I would sit by the windows overlooking the Amstel River and while munching on my steak and sipping my wine I was watching the barges and boats float by and the bicyclists crossing the nearby bridge en masse; the two most efficient manners of transportation in Amsterdam.
I still love Europe for the exceptional food and gastronomically Amsterdam has never disappointed me. Fast forward fifty years and I find myself, one more time, present for lunch at de L’Europe’s restaurant. The room has actually changed very little, though there have been renovations through the passing time, but it is not so much the look of the room as it is the serenity felt while sitting at one of their tables. Even though I have eaten in many Michelin-starred restaurants in the intervening years, I don't think I have been to a restaurant where there is so much attention to detail.
Chef Bas van Kranen seems to have moved his kitchen with the times, offering an original cooking style that maintains a good balance between the intense flavors; and a few of the classics including the Tournedos, were still part of the menu I saw. The execution of the dishes by Line Chef Sebastian Baquero Garces of the Brasserie was to the point of perfection.
Initially we were offered amuses from the Bord’Eau menu.
We started with an amuse of Red Mullet, which was a pink sliver of fish floating in a pomegranate sauce with inca berries and coriander. It was almost like a South American ceviche but within the tangy/sweet ‘leche de tigre’ sauce, there was a hint of exotic Persia titillating the palate. A very interesting and very memorable dish.
The next dish was Octopus with horseradish and turnip cabbage. The octopus was tender and covered by a wonderfully tasting thin crisp of solidified octopus ink… also very memorable.
The final Bord’Eau amuse was described as: Two Preparations of Carabineros, with a jacket of paprika, raspberry and basil. Carabinero is Spanish for prawns, and the chopped prawns on the bed of paprika, raspberry and basil were delicious.
We then moved to three dishes from De L’Europe’s second restaurant, Hoofdstad Brasserie: Gravad Lax with fennel, grapefruit salad and vanilla cream. A great combination of aromas and tastes that was a hit at the table. The tanginess/sweetness of the grapefruit melded with the saltiness of the gravad lax perfumed with vanilla.
Second dish was a Duck Breast with orange sauce, glazed carrots and potato mousseline. I love duck breasts properly cooked rare when they become crispy outside and silky in the center; and that’s how these breasts were presented!
Final dish was described as Goat’s Curd with lavender, figs and cassis. A lovely, creamy, white goat cheese ice cream perfumed with lavender, with slivers of semi-dry figs and cassis berries.
Next time I’m in Amsterdam, and hopefully it will be soon, I will return to de L’Europe. It is a very gracious hotel with exceptional restaurants. What more can one want?
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