Can you guess where I’ve been?

Well, I haven’t gone to Barbados yet…….though I am seriously counting down!

So, I haven’t been on holiday.

IMG_5961I’ll give you some clues

#1 – Twinkle, twinkle, little……

#2 – Very French, very fine dining connotations….and a ’round’ man

#3 – My desire as a gourmand has been to visit one!

Yes, I have been to my first ever Michelin star restaurant. And though it may not be a big deal to you…..hmmmmm, it certainly was to me! A proper fine dining experience!

IMG_5722The occasion: an  office do.

Now, my Dutch friend, S laughs her head off about Dutch cuisine…and its lack of giants but I can’t agree, wholeheartedly. After Eten & Drinken, my thought are heading towards the more positive, by the day!

Paul Van Waarden’s restaurant is located in Old Rijswijk (Oud Rijswijk), a little town close to The Hague.

IMG_5716

Its a one-star Michelin restaurant.

We arrived early…and for days before I had panicked that I wouldn’t be able to take photos, because we were taking ‘guests’ out, plus the fact that the restaurant staff/management would be offended. Once I checked with my boss that it would be fine, I knew half the job was done. The other? Well, I’d just have to wait and see how that went.

On arrival, I decided that the best thing would be to know upfront whether or not I could ‘flash’. The lady who received me was nice and friendly and gave the go ahead after I gave her a card and explained my obsession with love for food, she asked if I wanted to see the kitchen.I was shocked…and of course couldn’t say NO. Had NO reason to do so. {Apologies these photos are not the best}

IMG_5726 IMG_5727IMG_5728 IMG_5729

And silly me, because I proceeded to ask if she was the manager, to which she smiled and replied, ‘No, I’m the owner’!

The interior was tastefully decorated, large photos of food were carefully placed round the restaurant, which sits up to 60. I gather that the food style is French.

We sat down to a 4-course dinner, which in reality was 7-course, counting the entrees and the desserts!

IMG_5867We started with a platter of ‘small chops’. It consisted of black olive muffins with sour cream, green olives, tomato chutney, garlic bread, salted peanuts and cheese & cumin balls. This was not on the menu……

IMG_5771Of course, excited as I was….I sought to find the mystery of the ‘Michelin’. The food looked appetising and it was well-served. I found that all the different parts, made a well-balanced whole. The cheese balls were nice but the winner by far was the muffin. It was a delight to eat. Its ying-and-yang flavours are very fleur de sel + caramel like…..the balance of sweet and salty perfected. Again, me thinks. The muffin was soft, the flavours of the olives came through and it was a pity when I was done with mine!

Next, we got served some bread from a spread. What I can remember from left to right: brioche, bacon and…., wholewheat, lemon, can’t remember but the one on the right end is basil. I went for the lemon.

IMG_5807It was served with butter and a chunky herb oil.

IMG_5800Because we were a large group, we made all our choices upfront. I went ahead, ‘hurried up’ (aka didn’t read the ingredients for each meal to the end) and ordered all meat dishes. The lady taking my order asked if I was sure and didn’t want to try any fish and I declared boldly ‘Yes’!

IMG_5869

When my dried salted beef with creamed Puy-style lentils arrived, I dug into it straight away. Stopping only to admire the plating. I like it. the beef was almost ‘carpaccio’. It was quite soft and not overly salty. The lentils were cooked but not soft and mushy, holding their shape very well. To be honest, I didn’t notice the bacon or even remember it was a component of the dish. I have to say that I quite enjoyed it, with the delicious, well-dressed salad/garnish.

IMG_5822However, I must confess that I had a serious case of ‘food envy’ when the plates of  my ‘neighbours’, who went for the curried cabbage meal(on which grounds I had dismissed ordering this) arrived! I loved the ‘amuse glass’ the lobster soup was served in and the panko-crusted shrimp! I don’t know what the sauce was – I didn’t ask but there wasn’t a full plate in the room at the end of this course!

IMG_5814

The second (really third) course for me was sauteed sirloin steak with artichokes, partly-dried tomatoes and a puree of Jerusalem artichokes. It was delish. The steak was soft and provided no resistance to chewing….unlike some I’ve had/made in the past! I wasn’t quite sure about the tomatoes though.

IMG_5850

The fish counterpart to my steak was grilled fillet of brill with a parma ham ‘crust’, served on a bed of wakame and topped with a crispy snow peas. Again, everyone who had it gave it the thumbs up.

IMG_5847IMG_5845

Of course, by this time, I was STUFFED. No jokes, amidst all the laughter and ribbing about your portion sizes reduce with increasing numbers of Michelin stars!

IMG_5865

My third course was I think the most spectacular serving of the evening. At this stage anyway. I went with the guinea fowl stew with Ras el Hanout, sauerkraut (which I lovingly ate….and delighted in), mashed potato and guinea fowl nuggets. I particularly like the idea of combining different types/parts of the same meat in distinct manners but in one meal. When it arrived, in a tumbler with a skewer right through it, I thought I’d received the wrong order! But as time went on and the other plates came out, I gathered this was right. Armed with a spoon, I scooped from the bottom up. My spoon was filled with supper tender chunks of guinea fowl and veggies in a smooth, spicy sauce (not overly so) and so was my mouth. It was superb. Just think of it  as a proxy for the best Shepard pie ever….only served Michelin style!. The guinea fowl nuggets were nice on their own, but even better with some of the stew and mash. Let it be know that I ate my cup clean!

IMG_5873

And while the accompanying seabass dish looked nice, I decided that the vegetarian option deserved a place.  My colleague, P, the vegetarian loved his helicopters.  It was a beautiful plate of artichoke mash with mushrooms, sauerkraut and some asparagus. P enjoyed it. In his words. The food was good and well made!

IMG_5897

I was glad the meal had ‘come to an end’. What a laugh. I didn’t know what was ahead of me.

Margarita sorbets…….which I had to decline. Y’all know that I’d rather eat than drink my alcohol!

IMG_5889 IMG_5894

Pineapple sorbet was also part of the offering, for those who didn’t want any alcohol but as I’m allergic to pineapple….hmmm, that wouldn’t have helped me either!

IMG_5881

Finally dessert came, and my second tummy opened up. You know, the one reserved solely for sweet, after-dinner stuff….when the mains are oven and done with. I’m sure you have one too, as in two..too. I refuse to bear this ‘abnormality’ alone.

We had a chocolate cake with a chocolate lollypop and homemade vanilla ice-cream, topped with a brandy snap!

IMG_5866

It looked nice and I wasn’t quite sure of where to begin., so I started with the ice-cream. It was nice….trusted, comfortable vanilla.

IMG_5911

And then I broke into the cake, which was perfect and self saucing! Rich, chocolatey, decadent. I think that’s the word.

IMG_5974 IMG_5914IMG_5973 IMG_5957

The lollypop consisted of two layers (I think) of chocolate, encompassing sweet, thick, gooey stuff. Which I know not what it’s called. It was OK. Nice.

IMG_5900

And then I knew tea and coffee would be served. I expected them to be accompanied by thin mints and small coffee biscuits….but I had another thing coming.

This time a platter arrived full of small cakes and sweets. Macarons, Butterkoek (a dutch specialty), and Turkish delight like sweets were the stars of the show.

IMG_5935Thankfully, I respected my self and bulging tummy and took it easy. I started with the peachy jellied square/Pate d’fruit. Soft, intensely fruity and a tad too sweet. For me.

IMG_5980I decided to call it quits there, choosing to watch from the sidelines (if memory serves me well).

IMG_5981And then I decided that not trying the macs would be a bad thing. After all, these were mini macs. I didn’t really enjoy them. Maybe I’m going off macs. Not sure yet but time should tell!

IMG_5978And that was it. I physically had no room for more.

Now I have promised myself a return visit to this restaurant (amongst others), as soon as my son turns three and stops going to daycare! Just kidding. I think I’ll go back, just for a fish sampler and to see what their a la carte menu is like.

I am super glad I have now joined, been officially inaugurated into the ranks of fine diners. And free too.


IMG_5943

Lets *clink* to more nights out. This outing did meet my expectations and I was inspired by the way the food was served and styled. Simple, yet elegant. Perhaps that’s what Michelin stars are made of?????

Paul Van Waarden’s restaurant is located in the centre of old Rijswijk

Tollensstraat 10
2282 Rijswijk, Netherlands
070 4140812

www.paulvanwaarden.nl

IMG_5947I would like to say a special thank you to Sarah of Maison cupcake and Sophie of Sophie’s foodiefiles for both giving me awards. I appreciate it and would like to share them with you all!

Also remember the H2Ope for Haiti - an online raffle, organised by Jeanne of Cooksister with BloggerAid – Changing the Face of Famine (BA-CFF) to raise funds for Concern Worldwide’s relief effort in Haiti.

6a00d83451960b69e20120a8c2c89c970bThe raffle ends on midnight on Sunday 28 February.

There are lots of superb prizes, a list of which you will find on Jeanne’s blog. Unless stated otherwise, all prizes are available for worldwide shipping and tickets cost £6.50 (roughly $10) each.  Once you have chosen the prize or prizes you want to buy tickets for, take a note of their prize codes (very important!) and click through to Justgiving’s donations page where you will find complete instructions on how to buy your tickets and specify your chosen prizes. 

Please read and follow the instructions carefully and if in doubt, send Jeanne an e-mail (email cooksister AT googlemail DOT com).

Stay blessed, have a great weekend and see you on Sunday for some Umami rich…gnocchi

Blog Widget by LinkWithin