Tell any Dutch that you’re heading off to dinner at Michelin-starred La Rive at the Amstel and you’re sure to elicit sighs of “ooh, fancy”. And no wonder, as the Amstel is known for being THE place in town you go to for a special occasion, if money is no object, that is.
Well, seeing as how it was our 10th wedding anniversary, and to be honest, the prices weren’t exactly exorbitant, compared with other cities around the world (our dear Singapore included), we decided this would be the best option for us on this special occasion.
There are two 6-course degustation menus – La Rive Gauche or La Rive Droite, both at 120€, with option to wine pair at 90€ each.
Both courses started off with an amuse bouche of pea soup – but not just a soup, rather a compressed pudding of a soup, sandwiched between two wafer-thin crisps. I normally don’t care for soup, but in this form, it was unique and refreshing.
This was followed by another amuse bouche of deep-fried, de-skinned cherry tomato that had been marinated with Asian ingredients like soy, sesame, ginger – this dish was really sublime! The cherry tomato was crisp and burst in your mouth with a lovely caramelized flavor.
First of the Gauche starters – Wild Duck with pistachio, parsnip and kumquat. I quite liked that the slight gamey-ness of the duck was balanced by the slightly tart kumquat sauce.
Following through on the “meaty” profile was the robust Turbot with cockles, cured lemons and polenta – the fish was moist and needed just that little extra oomph that the cured lemons provided.
I thought the delicate Pike Perch with Gillardeau oyster and sauerkraut was good, but I might be biased where bi-valves are concerned.
My favourite dish of the night was one that appears in both menus and Executive Chef, Roger Rassin’s signature dish, the Beef Chuck with orzo, celeriac and De Wilde Weide cheese – it is meltingly tender and bursting with umami flavours.
The main in the Gauche menu is the Dutch Hare with red cabbage and apple mash. Also accompanying the dish is black pudding – scary as it might sound to some who are not used to animal blood in their sausages, it really wasn’t that strong so went pretty well with the rich rabbit dish.
As I prefer seafood, I chose the Droite menu. And a happy camper I was as I had the Langoustine with calamansi, yogurt and wasabi to start, and I love my sweet crustaceans indeed.
I guess the slightly “meaty” influence came in the next dish, the Monkfish with king bolete and liver. Monkfish liver is prized in Japan, so it’s no wonder the chef played with some Japanese elements by adding in a dash of dashi.
When a scallop is done really well, and when combined with its bestie, the bacon, you can bet it’s going to be yummy and so it went with the next dish – Scallops with bacon and peach chutney.
My main was the Pheasant with Asian tasting flavours of five spice, mushrooms and pumpkin. I thought the presentation with the mushrooms was absolutely charming.
And as it was our anniversary, they jazzed up our desserts with a handwritten message. We had the Sunchoke brioche, vanilla with arabica coffee and the Apple with honey, dates and olive oil.
With a view of the serene Amstel river and the excellent (read: not snooty for a Michelin-starred place) service that accompanied our dinner, definitely happy we made the choice to dine in style at the Amstel.
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