18 March 2013

House of Delight

Written by Published in Food

With an increasing concern surrounding the food we eat and where it comes from, it’s no surprise that locally sourced produce is an ever-growing trend. And frankly, with all its benefits, it doesn’t take a genius to see that eating locally makes sense. Michelin star awarded chef and owner of De Kas Restaurant in Amsterdam Gert Jan Hageman agrees…

dekas9In 2001, Amsterdam’s municipal nursery garden was due for demolition, but Mr Hageman saved it from this fate by transforming it into a character restaurant. 

Locally sourced produce is at the heart of what De Kas do. One of its glass greenhouses was turned into an open plan kitchen and restaurant, with the adjacent greenhouse and garden being used to grow much of what ends up on your plate. Herbs, vegetables and edible flowers are all grown on site. They also have a field about 10km from the restaurant where they grow seasonal vegetables outdoors. The field is harvested at sunrise each morning to ensure those of us lucky enough to dine there enjoy only the freshest of ingredients. The fish served comes in daily from catches in the North and Wadden Seas, and their meat suppliers are local too. 

This makes for a unique experience on the menu front – there isn’t one. The daily menu is created based on the harvest of their nursery. They do of course take any dietary requirements into account, but other than that you are in the hands of restaurant’s chefs. 

I enjoyed this part of dining at De Kas – instead of racing to make a menu decision, I sat back, relaxed in the sunshine that beamed through the architectural perfection that is their glass greenhouse, happy in the knowledge I was going to get the best of what they had. 

dekas5De Kas’ belief that food tastes best when it’s prepared using the freshest ingredients is a reasoned one and every dish that was delivered to my table was a gastronomic delight. The highlights for me were the home made sour dough topped with creamed cauliflower, anchovies, spinach and walnuts, and the smoked cod salad featuring chicory, radish and baby spinach. The presentation was simple and inviting and the flavours fresh and light with a Mediterranean feel. 

Another revelation was the wine list. They offer a great selection including locally sourced Dutch prosecco and wine. I’d never gone Dutch before when it comes to wine and I’d recommend you take advantage of it at De Kas. 

After my meal I was lucky enough to take a tour of the greenhouse and I recommend you visit from May – October when you can do the same. If that’s not close enough to the action for you, up to 4 people can book the Chef’s table in the kitchen where you can see your dishes being prepared and plated. 

Inspired by my visit, I’ve tried to create a little bit of De Kas in my own house – just a herb garden for now – but it’s a start!


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