212 has only been in business since January 2018 and surely will become a hard reservation to get once word gets out, so get to it now. The seating was at a u-shaped counter (with drawers for extra flatware underneath) surrounding the open kitchen, where Chefs Thomas Groot (there that night) and Richard van Oostenbrugge work their magic, The chefs and some of the staff previously worked together at Bord’Eau. A couple of high-top tables on the sides are available for larger groups. A lovely wood ceiling, dance music in the background, comfortable bar seats, two walls of windows looking over streets and canals and a hum from the happy crowd set the ambiance. The atmosphere is casual rather than formal and even a bit noisy. It was a fantastic meal and service was out of this world- really friendly, fun and welcoming. It all adds to an unconventional and memorable dining experience featuring a spectacular meal. I would easily go back.
The menu offers 4 or 7 course tasting menus, with an optional Wagyu grade 5 course and cheese courses, or an a la carte menu. We opted for the 7 course tasting and made it 8 by adding the Wagyu and ordered our own bottles of wine. There was really good portion control and pacing throughout the evening.
The evening began with a cool, wet cloth to freshen you and a series of amuse bouche. First was celeriac foam topping Dutch shrimp for a delicious bite.
A crispy smoked chicken skin was topped with fava beans, cauliflower cream and garden greens. It was great.
An egg yolk floats in a broad bean consommé with bacon oil, after being injected with crab bisque. An interresting explosion of crab when you break the yolk. A nice combination of flavors and textures.
Bread was a sour dough variety that was finished/smoked on the fire and served warm with French butter with a bit of salt and paradise pepper. A crisp exterior nicely contrasted with the dense yet light center. It was served warm but not made in house.
Crumble of Red Mullet with Smokey broth with seaweed contained red mullet jelly, red mullet fillet, passion fruit, pickled and then fried scales in a sauce of mullet and citrus. The crunchy scales really added a nice texture while the fruits nicely rounded out the dish. It was served cool, not cold and the flavor really stood out with slight overtones of smoke. Very good.
Open ravioli of French oyster with briny veal shank velouté was served with hazelnut, BBQ lemon confiture and green cabbage. The sauce was made with cockles and cream of oyster. Grilled lemon and a thin layer of hazelnut jelly on top of the plump oyster really added to the flavor. Hazelnut was a brilliant addition to the mix. The briny foam was nicely moderated by the lemon and cabbage. This fun course was loaded with scents and flavors.
A langoustine poached in duck fat was served with Dashi Albufera, coffee and Katsuobushi (smoked dried tuna belly), which continued to move after it was served (video included). The coffee and lemon dusted the langoustine. The sauce was amazing on this barely cooked langoustine. It was buttery and rich and made you want to lick up every bite. The coffee was definitely a flavor that was present in this truly excellent dish. Yum x 3.
Codfish ‘Darne’ with Salmis of codfish was served alongside a chicheron with the liver, morrels and spruce. Codfish throats were covered with a Bordelaise sauce and cooked perfectly with a texture and sweetness like lobster. It was excellent – three stars for this one. A crispy piece of throat of the fish was stuffed with liver which was dynamic and fun plus it blended nicely with the morels, sauce and fish. The other pieces were cod loin and covered with a smoked potato sauce and “land caviar”. Both dishes were flavorful and wonderful.
BBQ Anjou squab was served with a leek vinaigrette alongside a stew of the rest with ‘boiled potatoes’ and black truffles. The perfectly cooked French squab was on top of some spring onions and garlic with a dab of black garlic puree and a vinaigrette of oxtail and roasted leek. The ‘potatoes’ were in a sauce of stomach thickened with liver. The ‘potatoes’ were filled with a parmesan mixture. Both were delicious dishes.
The Wagyu grade 5 was roasted over oak and plated with a Marsala jus, Wagyu beef tongue, seaweed mayo, caramelized onions and black truffles. The beef had an amazing taste and tenderness. The texture was that of beef butter – just what you want and expect from this piece. Get it whenever you have a chance as it’s the best ever. The caramelized onions held their own here – they were also delicious.
A huge selection of cheeses were placed on a special counter brought out as the evening wore on. It was a wonderful selection but we felt we had plenty with our menu but I’ve included a couple photos for you (one thanks to assistance from Kevin Man who also did the set up).
A frozen soufflé of avocado, jalapeño and spruce was mixed with some white chocolate. It was very tender and creamy, yet solid. It had a little spice which made if fun and interesting. A light dish it still had a lot of flavor and left a nice tingle on the tongue.
A selection of after dinner drinks were set out to temp you and we couldn’t resist. Sommelier Daphne Oudshoorn was helpful in selecting a couple items that complied with our preferences. I must say, her talent is not just for wines – she made terrific selections, one of anise flavor and the other with quince.
Cherry’s was dessert and it was Liquid Amarena, Smokey Boubon, Lemon, Cherry-umeboshi foam, black olive and crispy walnut. The cherry in the ball was a sugar bowl mixed with walnuts, pine needles, olives and rosemary sorbet. You could really taste the herbs in the ball and the sugar made it have a little chew in the crisp part. Sour amareno cherries were served on a smokey bourbon and lemon sorbet that almost had a taste of Margarita to it. The cherries made this one better than that though and actually mixed well with the other.
We were thrilled to have a tour of the kitchen after dinner with the very nice and talented Chefs Thomas Groot and Raymond Plat.