One of the very first listings I wrote for the blog (even before it became Amsterdam Wonderland) was for the incomparable De Kas restaurant.
Back then Mr Wonderland booked for us to have dinner and we left our beloved baby Oscar in the safe arms of “Oma” to head out for a much needed date night. In some ways it inspired my desire to share our Amsterdam discoveries and recommendations far and wide and from that, the kernel of the blog was born.
Since then I have recommended it to dozens, maybe hundreds of visitors and none have ever been disappointed.
So what is De Kas? In a nutshell it’s an astonishing luxury restaurant in an 8 meter high greenhouse in a beautiful park. The fixed menu is designed around whatever has been picked that day in their fabulous greenhouse and kitchen garden (both of which you are welcome to wander through and explore) or from their larger field and farm on the Beemster polder where more than 100 varieties of vegetables, herbs and fruit are grown.
Their ethos is simple: “picked in the morning, served in the afternoon”.
Fear not though, De Kas are absolutely wonderful about accommodating ‘dislikes’ (no peas or beetroot for me) so whilst being primarily a vegetable based menu don’t despair if you are a vegephobe – I promise its the only place that has ever brought me somewhat round to the idea that a meal with minimal meat or fish can still be spectacular.
Naturally everything can be adapted (with love) for vegetarians and vegans.
Our first visit was on a Winter night and I’ll never forget the approach to the magnificent glass building with its mellow glow. The deal was sealed when I realised that plant-based food could not only look exceptional but taste extraordinary too. I vowed to return one day for a Summer lunch.
And almost 10 years later, that’s exactly what we did.
In the intervening years I had heard a grumble that De Kas had lost its edge. That it didn’t justify the need to book exactly 6 weeks ahead and that the food wasn’t what it was. Then, last year a pair of new chefs took over. Formerly at the michelin-starred Rijks Restaurant, hopes were high that it would return to its former glory. Well, I can assure you that De Kas is back. And if anything it’s better than ever.
The space of course remains as magnificent as it ever was. Light and airy, cool despite the glass walls and ceiling and a feeling of effortless class as you walk in.
The dress code ranged from Dutch-smart to ripped jeans, trainers and tracksuits because despite the refined feel of the room this isn’t a pretentious, fussy or formal environment (we are in The Netherlands after all).
The menu is always fixed, and being early August it was full of Summer flavours and tastes, a perfect match to the indescribably fragrant smell of the greenhouse from where our meal began life earlier in the morning.
Lunch was described as follows and listed in no particular order. Food here is poetry.
Elderflower | Melon
Vadouvan | Oyster Leaf | Endive
Ricotta | Lemon Sorbet | Sea Lavender
Plums | Samphire | Anchovies
BASIL | CORIANDER
It would be foolish to try to describe exactly what we actually ate because tomorrow something else will have grown and no two days are the same but suffice to say it was wonderful – never have I eaten a dip so delicious only to discover the principle ingredient was celery!
We had 4 courses, enhanced by three amuse bouche to start. The presentation of every item was perfection and it is one of the only occasions that I’ve felt that a sparing use of edible flowers really added something to the flavour of the plate rather than simply masking something less attractive.
To accompany the meal, some sensational sourdough and for me perhaps the biggest surprise of all, a glass of Dutch wine that was crisp and light despite growing far from any slopes.
Bookings at De Kas open exactly 6 weeks ahead of your dining date and if you are keen for a weekend table you better be ready to click as the slots open up.
This place is a one-off. It may not be the cheapest meal in Amsterdam but nor is it by any means the most expensive. Book ahead for the wow-factor and get ready – its worth it, this utterly classy meal may turn out to be your Amsterdam highlight.
Former President Barak Obama was in town recently for just 24 hours and it didn’t surprise me at all that he chose De Kas for dinner (in case you were wondering he asked them not to include beetroot or asparagus in the meal – but don’t worry, even if you’re not a former president you can specify any dislikes when you order.)