Vermeer is a one Michelin star restaurant in the Barbizon hotel across the street from Central Station in Amsterdam. The degustation menu is called “From the Land Collection” and consists of 7 courses for 99 euros. Matching wines are 59 euros. We didn’t feel like having veal sweatbread, and were offered the chef’s signature vegetable dish instead.
It already becomes clear from the amuses bouche that the chef really loves vegetables. The first one is tomato sponge cake with pickled carrot, honey from the hotel’s roof beehive and mustard seeds. Something the chef calls ‘caponata’ but doesn’t really taste like that Sicilian dish. Very nice all the same. Melon gazpacho with tarragon granité. I think there also was some beetroot in there. The tarragon granité had great flavor. Pumpkin with roasted onion and what they call ‘tajine spices’ (a tajine is a Moroccan cooking vessel). A very good set of amuse bouche, 9/10.
The first course of the menu is a scallop with tarragon and chard, with a clam sauce and pickled fennel. The clam flavor could have been a bit stronger, but the scallop was perfectly cooked and nice with the tarragon and chard. The Italian white that was supposed to be the matching wine for this course was not available, and was substituted with a 2012 Chablis. The chablis was quite acidic and went well with the acidity of the pickled fennel, but the wine had a strong bitter note with the dish that it didn’t have when we tried it before the dish. 7/10
Zucchini soup and deep fried zucchini flower with raw scampi, hazelnut, and mispel, paired with a Portuguese white bossa (a local grape) from Beira Atlantico. The wine didn’t clash but didn’t do anything special either. I liked the courgette flower, but overall the dish was a bit low in taste. 7/10
Gurnard with crispy breadcrumbs and sage, artichoke, pickled mushrooms, and anchovies-garlic mayo. There was also a special type of herb that I had never seen or tasted before that was very fresh. The fish with the mayo was very nice. The fish was very crispy and almost (but not quite) overcooked. The wine pairing with an original tasting malvasia from Croatia again did not clash but did not make the dish or the wine taste any better either. 8/10
John Dory with tomato, smoked eel, ginger butter sauce, and kohlrabi, paired with a rosé from Provence. The fish was perfectly cooked and very tasty. The wine didn’t work very well with the butter sauce, but did work well with the other components on the plate. 8/10
The palette of individually prepared vegetables (raw, cooked, and marinated) is the signature dish of the chef. It is nice to eat at a restaurant of this level and get so many vegetables instead of a protein overdose. We even increased the amount of veggies by choosing this over the veal sweetbread. The veggies were all nice, but not special. The cava (Spanish sparkling wine) was a good match. 8/10
The main dish was oriental in style: duck breast with five-spice flavored duck demi-glace, poached prunes and snow peas. The duck was tender, but the skin wasn’t crispy. The poached prunes were nice, and I really liked the presentation of the snow peas with sesame seed that were cut as to resemble a Japanese seaweed salad. I liked the full flavor of the sauce, although there was perhaps a bit too much sichuan pepper in it. The matching Swiss red was not available and was substituted with a red from Rousillon that was not fruity enough for this dish. 8/10
The palate cleanser was quite sweet for a palate cleanser, but nice all the same.
The chocolate tart with rum ice cream was quite nice, and served with a Cream sherry (basically a thin version of PX). 8/10
The dinner was concluded with a nice selection of petit fours that came with our coffee and tea.
The food at Vermeer is good, especially if you like vegetables. The level of the dishes is quite constant, but less than at Bord’eau (which also had one star when I dined at Vermeer, now two, and similar prices), so I’m scoring 8/10 for the food. None of the wines pairings stood out, and although all the wines were good they did not stand out either, so 7/10 for the wine. The service was mostly fine, although on a few occasions we had to wait a bit too long, so 7.5/10 for the service.
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