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REVIEW: De Kas, Amsterdam

REVIEW: De Kas, Amsterdam

Am I the only one who responds to the words ‘locally-sourced ingredients’ with an unconvinced eye-roll?

Well, consider my cynicism (towards the concept, not the countless pretentious restaurants who feign allegiance to it) obliterated.

De Kas – a hip, relaxed eatery in Amsterdam’s Park Frankendael, housed in a giant conservatory structure, thus bathed in natural light – takes the idea and runs with it.

Its delightfully fresh, organic fruits and vegetables are grown on-site, and its dishes are executed with such love and care, it feels almost unspeakably brutal to eat them.

We stopped by one brisk, sunny afternoon in February, our curiosity immediately ignited by the thoughtful intricacies of the light five-course menu.

Leading the charge was a thick, woody chicory soup with caramelized chicory, smoked almonds, Messenklever cheese and baked chicory root. It will remain, for many moons to come, the best starter I’ve ever eaten.

I’ve had raw chicory before, but in all honesty had forgotten what it was (in case you’re wondering, it’s a salad leaf), and in this pungent, sinewy, sugary form, bitty with crushed nuts and cheese, I had my first ‘what is this?’ culinary moment in years.

This was followed by a delightful mini salad of smoked apple and fermented rhubarb, paired with crunchy celeriac granola and hazelnut, celeriac creme plus roasted celeriac and radish.

A crucial quality of De Kas is its expert treatment of vegetables. They’re either served utterly fresh – in dainty, easily edible portions, such as the aforementioned – or cooked so gently they retain their structure and crunch; no horrible green mush here.

Moving into mains territory, the cannelloni of tender Baambrugge pork fillet (provided by local farmers) with fennel, green cabbage, brown Shimeiji mushrooms, a tiny portion of confit pork belly and a fennel balsamic vinaigrette was satisfying, but the fluffy red perch that followed, served with long, zingy roasted carrots, packed more of a punch.

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A sauerkraut accompaniment, meanwhile, with its too-overpowering taste compared to the delicate flavors elsewhere, pushed my relationship with vegetables (particularly cabbage) to the limit, proving too much for me.

Dessert was a small portion of glorious caramelized beetroot and blood orange trifle, padded out with chocolate crumble and finished with yogurt foam and blood orange sorbet – perfect with a glass of pale rosé.

The colors of the dessert were especially extraordinary – and none of them artificial! My only gripe would be that it was a touch watery, but still delicious.

Upon concluding my meal, it occurred to me that despite the modestly-sized portions and swift, efficient service between courses, I’d been dining for a considerable amount of time. What with the pleasant surroundings and the beauty of the food, De Kas forces you to slow down, and truly experience your meal: admire the construction on your plate, slowly consider every mouthful.

The fact is, De Kas has genuinely changed the way I see food, and I’ve never said this about a restaurant before. Thus, I’ll be judging all restaurants by its standard, for the forseeable future at least.

De Kas,
Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3,
1097 DE Amsterdam,
Netherlands
www.restaurantdekas.nl