Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Restaurant De Kas, Amsterdam.

I think that a restaurant that cares about the quality of their food enough to grow or breed their own produce must be a good restaurant. Of course, this is me generalising things. Only recently that this is becoming a trend. Nowadays, chefs are not just the hardworking, kitchen toiling individuals, they are also the farmer. 

Terms like heirloom vegetables (a cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but which is not used in modern large-scale agriculture as they need to pollinated openly) , which has long been wiped out of our dictionaries and gardens have slowly been resurfacing. This makes it really exciting for foodies like myself to actually have the opportunity to taste such rare varieties of vegetables and fruits. Recently, one of such restaurants which has adopted the "grow your own vegetables scheme" is Circa, St Kilda. They were featured in a recent article of The Age.

However, the one of the earliest pioneers is Restaurant De Kas. In 2001, top chef Gert Jan Hageman, who had earned a Michelin star in Dutch haute cuisine, found a new direction for his own career and a new purpose for the old greenhouse that belonged to Amsterdam's Municipal Nursery. The greenhouse, which dated from 1926, was due to be demolished. With a lot of luck and, most importantly, with help from the municipality and his family and friends, Hageman succeeded in converting the unique 8-metre high glass building into a restaurant and nursery.

Situated in Frankendael Park, between the Rembrandt Tower and the nineteenth century facades of Watergraafsmeer, De Kas is an oasis of calm for the fifty-thousand guests who dine there each year; either in the breathtaking dining room designed by Piet Boon, or at the chef's table in the kitchen, or  if weather permits,  outside in the herb garden.

De Kas serves one fresh, daily set menu priced at € 49.50. The five-course menu is based on what they've harvested that day, and always consists of a selection of small starters, followed by a main course and a dessert.

For those who like to be at the heart of the action may prefer the exclusive chef's table in the kitchen, where dinner is at the mercy of the kitchen brigade (€ 125 including wine).

At lunchtime, they serve a four-course menu for € 37.50 By the way, it is also possible to order only ala carte.

For those picky eaters out there who need to know if they are organic, yes they are.

View of the exterior at night.

View of the main dining hall.

Another view of the dining hall.

The private dining room.

The nursery.

Circa, St Kilda's vegetable and herb patch at Albert Park. They are currently growing more than 50 types of fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs.

No comments: