De Librije has been located for 3 years in an old prison in Zwolle, a short train ride from Amsterdam. The dining area is downstairs and upstairs is a hotel. They offer a tasting menu of 5 – 7 courses or a la carte options. For the tasting there are 4 courses where you have a choice of dish and the additional ones are chosen by the chef. For our 7 course tasting we both chose different dishes from the options but for the surprise courses we were served the same. After a moment in the reception area we were moved to a pre-dining room lounge. Drinks are offered and champagne was topped off as we enjoyed some snacks which were all pretty good. Also Chef Jonnie Boer comes out to visit about the menu and you make your choices and decide the number of courses.
After about 45 minutes we were escorted to the large dining room that is on the other side of this highly decorated room. It was unclear to me how they decided when you got to move into the dining room. Don’t rush the guests seems to be the order of things, so if you don’t want to spend almost 5 hours on lunch be prepared to tell the server you are ready to move along. The dining room is divided in half with one part being large, well spaced and leather-covered dining tables and the other half being a prep and small kitchen area. That portion leads into the main kitchen. Overhead is a glass ceiling that made for a fun show when the rain started and nice natural light for your dining experience.
At the table we were served some “chips and dip” which were crunchy sticks with a zippy dip that was tasty. Also a ring that is to be put on your finger and the herring and caviar are to be eaten off. I didn’t like this one but it was the first of the unique serving dishes the kitchen liked to use.
Trout eggs with passion fruit and carrot were served on ice filled black plastic gloves. The dish was really nice. Bread from different grains was nice and served warm.
The menu started with crayfish and foie gras. The crayfish were presented in a charred wooden box with hot rocks holding the edible morsels. These were then added to the presentation plate and sauce added. The crayfish were amazing and the dish was further enhanced by blueberries. It was a good combination.
The other first was brown crab, chicken liver and calf’s heart. The chicken liver was smooth and tasty, the heart was chewy and good and the mild crab was enhanced by the sauce. For an odd combination of ingredients, it did work together.
Langoustine ceviche had been soaked for 4 hours in a water, ginger, mushroom and sugar solution. It was then served and covered with grated egg yolks that had been salted and dried. It was covered with a syrupy sauce that was not heavy but tasted strongly of ginger. It was very nice and made a good dish.
Trout was served with mushrooms and a lovage sauce. It was full of interesting textures and the white sauce really helped the dish a lot. Another good one but not mind-blowing.
Young cod was served with blue cheese and spruce. It was a super moist fish that really blended well with the blue cheese. This was a great dish.
The monkfish was plated with eggplant and a soured pepper sauce. Again the fish was cooked perfectly and the sauce really elevated the dish to greatness. Another winner.
For the next choice I chose off the regular menu instead and had veal sweetbreads with pineapple and peanut sauce and so glad I did. All were perfectly cooked and the addition of crispy shrimp gave it a good crunch along with the peanuts. A very good dish.
The Farmer’s pigeon was served with the breast sliced on one plate with sauce and cream of macadamia nut underneath and was not the least bit livery. The leg and wing were presented in a small grill that had been made from a can. They suffered overcooking but were plated with tasty corn and other vegetables. It was a very good dish overall.
The first dessert was a soft stinky cheese with rabbit kidneys and potato juice. It was rich and creamy and the kidneys blended nicely.
Toasted white chocolate was mixed with pistachio and blue cheese into a really good bowl of stuff. Good textures, crunch and creamy, worked with the rich layer of something on the bottom. The pistachios also added good flavor and texture. A yum here.
Rose of beetroot was combined with lovage and liquorice for the next dessert. It was pretty and okay.
Ice coffee ice cream with cardamom and coconut was served on a plastic bag full of ice. The ice cream had a nice strong taste of coffee and was creamy. It was a tasty burst of flavors.
Last was a dehydrated orange with mint and mascarpone. It was creamy and lightly salted for a good combination.