Librije’s Zusje is a 2 star Michelin restaurant located in the lovely Waldorf Astoria hotel. Chef Sidney Schutte has been in this location for 3 – 4 years having worked at Zwolle Librije for 10 years. The medium sized, well-spaced tables were fully draped with nice linens and set with comfortable leather chairs and purse stools, rhythmic music was in the background and the lighting is lowered. Smaller velvet chairs match the banquette seating along one wall. Windows look out to the beautiful grounds, paintings and mirrors tastefully decorate the walls and a huge arrangement of gorgeous flowers graces the center staging table. The room has a wonderfully elegant feel.
The first greeting is that of a cool, moist towel to wipe your hands, cool in response to the warm day outside. Afterwards a large rectangular napkin is placed in your lap and you’re ready to look over the menu. The place has a lot of staff working the room but they are never intrusive but willing to be friendly and chat if you indicate an interest, which we did. Two tasting menus are available, one omnivore and the other vegetarian, and you could choose between 5 or 7 courses. We chose the 7 course omnivore menu. This is a place to put on your list to get to – it offers small concentrated tastes in unlikely combinations that really work.
Several amuse bouche start your meal, which we enjoyed a glass of cava with. A crispy eel skin with plankton and black pepper was excellent. Crisp and tasty.
Caviar from north Italy was presented with Kaffir lime and cauliflower puree underneath. It was wonderful.
An oyster leaf was wrapped around dried and shredded mackerel with horseradish and marzipan cream. It was a very fun combination of flavors and a nice, intense taste.
A salad of the North Sea was spicy with sesame, sweet corn and whisky. Very tasty.
Sourdough bread was served with Jersey cow’s milk butter and a caramelized goat’s milk butter. The bread was nicely crusty with a good dense interior. Both spreads were tasty.
The ‘Maatjesharing’ Herring is the first catch of herring in the season. It was served with potato, buttermilk, dill, cinnamon, bacon and egg yolk. The sauce incorporated cinnamon and miso while potato was the crispy bits on the top. The egg yolk was infused with bacon flavor. The green thing on the side was a puffy crisp which added even more texture to this nice combination of tasty ingredients.
Carabinero was composed with short rib, roasted bell pepper, ginger, watermelon and X.O. cream. A Spanish deep sea shrimp was raw and bell pepper was in the sauce. Crispy bits of short rib were underneath mixed with watermelon, ginger, chard and the X.O. cream of shrimp. Texturally it felt like you were eating the shrimp shells but it was just the really crisp texture combined with the shrimp flavor. The ginger was an excellent introduction to the watermelon – it took it from great to amazing. The raw shrimp had a texture I enjoyed, not the floured feel that some get. This was a fun dish to eat and tasted great too.
Langoustine was combined with kimchi, sea buckthorn, peanut, oyster, black pudding and white asparagus. A buerre blanc sauce incorporated the sea buckthorn and encircled pickled white aspargus, black pudding and oysters. A crumble of langoustine topped it off. A cream of peanuts worked into the mix. A plate of strong flavors that worked well together. I probably liked the previous course more, but this was another good one.
Red Mullet was served with razor clam, cockle, leek, wild strawberry, garlic and coconut Hollandaise. The garlic was cooked crispy and the fish was on a sauce of Thai bullion with wild strawberries and the white streaks were the coconut Hollandaise. The red mullet was nicely moist and really worked with this wild combination of flavors. It was amazing.
Crispy Duck was plated with eggplant, coriander, tulip, pomegranate and black olive. The tulips were actually tulip bulbs and the eggplant worked into the duck bullion that was served in a cup on the side. The bulbs tasted like onions and they were stuffed with well done meat. The rare duck was roasty tasting – not that achieved in a sous vide machine. The broth was wonderful but I loved the duck and the sauce. It was exquisite.
A short kitchen tour gave Frankie a chance to explore more of the place and meet Chef Schutte.
Tremella was made with tarragon, pink peppercorn and BBQ white chocolate. The Chinese white fungus that had been a table decoration was doused with green liquid and then incorporated into the Tremella. It had an unusual texture but the tarragon flavor was terrific and really accented by a touch of pink peppercorn and the BBQ white chocolate. It was like eating a large fungus but tasted of a peppered roast. Very nice.
Rhubarb and Brioche was plated with lemon geranium and tamarillo. A rhubarb was infused and thin slices of it were on a toasted brioche ice cream surrounded by rhubarb juice. The tamarillo was the crunch. It was best when all ingredients were eaten together. Lots of textures and tastes, but not too sweet, made it ultra satisfying. Another winner.
Last treats were an array of chocolates that represented the tastes of the various dishes. A color code was in a menu that was yours to take and helped interpret. By that time I was totally satiated and not sure I could appreciate them all. I think my tastebuds were on overload from a divine dining experience.