Foodie Disclaimer Alert! I was invited to eat at Lt. Cornelis by the restaurant’s PR manager – as regular readers know, I’m always honest (sometimes brutally so!) in my reviews, but there’s a chance the food and/or service was different because my identity was known.
Ok, now that’s out of the way, let’s get on with this! When I wrote a post a couple of months ago about Dutch food in Amsterdam, I was struggling to think of enough (good) places that served authentically Dutch food. I couldn’t even come up with a Top 10 (I featured about seven restaurants in the end) – and even then I was scraping the barrel with pancakes and broodjes. So when Dutch restaurant Lt. Cornelis invited me to eat, I decided it was worth the lack-of-objectivity risk and took them up on their offer. What made me more curious still is that the restaurant is just off the Spui, right in the heart of tourist central; could it really be any good?
After an amuse of calamari (not the battered, fried variety) with a yoghurt and herb dressing, plus slices of smoked sausage with pickles, we moved onto a round of three starters. A salad of smoked ham, apple, chicory, beetroot and other vergeten groenten was crisp, refreshing and tasting firmly of Dutch soil. Fresh mackerel with seasonal rhubarb and an interesting mustard-seed dressing was similarly satisfying – and made more beautiful with edible flowers. Even the humble cheese kroket was elevated through the use of oude kaas made from unpasteurised milk.
My friend’s risotto was made with barley instead of rice, Jerusalem artichokes, leek that had also been BBQ-ed, and messenklever cheese. It was more autumnal than summery, but extremely tasty at any time of year. A decadent, creative stunner of a vegetarian dish.
For dessert, the rhubarb made a comeback with seasonal red berries (in both regular and sorbet format) and a foamy cinnamon cream. It was light enough to devour even after all the courses that had come before it, despite being served with a melba-toast-esque sliver of kruidkoek (spiced fruit bread).
It’s not completely clear to me how much we would have paid for what we ate had it not been free – the prices on Lt. Cornelis’s website range from €35 for three courses to €47.50 for five. But I enjoyed dinner so much that next time I have visitors in town who want to experience “Dutch food”, I’ll probably go back and find out…