Restaurants in The Netherlands and Belgium




Park Heuvel

Address:           Rotterdam  

Telephone:        00 31 10 436 07 66   

fax:                   00 31 10 436 71 40

Last visited August 2004



Park Heuvel is in a modern building with a partial view of the harbour.  Amuse guele consisted of toasted bread with ham, fine strips of pastry with herbs, sticks of cucumber and some assorted nuts (6/10 really for the amuse guele).  Bread was either white or brown sourdough, and was very pleasant (7/10).  The next amuse guele showed the first signs of real class, a delicate gelee of pike and prawns that had superb texture and flavour (10/10).  Stella had tempura of prawns with a spicy sesame biscuit along with a canteloupe melon, a curry sauce and a drizzle of balsamic.  The prawns were dazzling and the tempura like gossamer (10/10).  I had sardines with tuna puree, served with a salad of herbs with parsley oil.  This was very nice (7/10) but was not in the same league as the tempura.


For main course I had stunning langoustines and a large, plump scallop of perfect freshness, served with a lemon bouillon (10/10).  Stella had superb sole fillet topped with wild mushrooms, bak choi and both a hollandaise and a separate pesto sauce (10/10).  Cheese was in good condition; I tried Epoisses, Reblochon, Camembert, Comte and a goat cheese (8/10).  A dessert of crepes with orange soufflé and orange compote was excellent (9/10), as was a lemon “tart” that was really a meringue pie with yoghurt ice cream and lemon rind (9/10).  Petit fours consisted of an almond tuile (7/10), a lovely shortbread (10/10), a coconut puff (8/10), a mini chocolate tart (8/10), a coffee truffle (10/10) and a chocolate fondant with sponge topped with coffee beans (10/10). 


Overall a really fine restaurant, in a totally different league from the Librijie. 


De Librijie

Address:           Broerenkerkplein 13, Zwolle  

Telephone:        00 31 38 421 20 83   

Fax:                  00 31 38 423 23 29


Last visited August 2004


Zwolle can be reached by an hourly train from Schipol (1 hour and twenty minutes duration) and is a pretty small town whose centre is enclosed entirely by a canal.  When staying the best bet is the Hotel Wientjes, which is a short walk from the station though be aware that even the best rooms there do not have air conditioning.  The restaurant is situated in a 15th century monastery library, which has very high ceilings and is a charming setting.  Service on my visit was friendly though erratic, with wine not being topped up on a couple of occasions, and an interminable wait of 50 minutes between starter and main course.  However the sommelier was excellent.  Amuse gueles began with a marinated sardine served with a granita of red pepper; the sardine tasted pretty much like, er, a sardine, but the granita had good texture (6/10).  Next were three glasses, one with a cream of beetroot, one with a cream of horseradish and cucumber with a little solid cucumber also, and a cream of goats cheese with tapenade and tomato (the best of the three).  All pleasant enough (6/10).  Much better, and indeed the dish of the night, was a lollipop of duck liver and duck confit, which had superb flavour and smooth texture (9/10).  Also there were a couple of crisps, one of bacon and the other with parmesan and pistachios (5/10).  Bread was slanted heavily towards seeded bread, as the plain (very nice) brown bread ran out almost immediately, despite us eating early.  The others were a rye bread, a sesame seeded white roll and a brown roll with semolina. (6/10 for the bread).  The menu is a little tricky, with various odd flavour combinations, and is awkward for non-carnivores as many fish dishes also have meat.


Stella started with a wing of skate served with a little puree of smoked eel, and a small amount of cauliflower and mango. I am unconvinced as to why this flavour combination was supposed to be appealing, and it was cooked well enough but still only 5/10.  I had fillet of turbot with an excellent morel jus, served with a few baby morels and creamy mashed potatoes and a superfluous twirl of crisp potato (7/10).  For main course I had roebuck, served as pieces of meat attached to ribs, plus a shoulder of deer that was minced and wrapped with pasta.  On the side were slices of beetroot steeped in alcohol and some cold turnip that did nothing in my view (5/10).  Stella had turbot with cockles and green beans, with a ravioli of crab meat and a salad of leaves, herbs and joujons of turbot.  The fish was served with a sauce that supposedly had lemongrass, curry and ginger, but only the lemongrass was apparent.  Pleasant enough 5/10.


Cheese was mostly French with a couple of aged Dutch cheeses.  Unfortunately it was served straight from a fridge (“as it is a hot night”) which stifled the flavour badly, though the Muster, Epoisses, Camembert and Reblochon were all in good condition (5/10).  For dessert Stella had soufflé of quark (cheese) with peach compote and a lavender ice cream that was bizarrely green in colour.  I had soufflé of lime leaf with ginger cream and a vanilla ice cream.  Neither soufflé had very good texture, and 5/10 is the best I can score these.  Petit fours consisted of a choux bun filled with lemon cream topped with coconut, an almond macaroon, a chocolate truffle on a stick and a white chocolate truffle (8/10).  Coffee was excellent (8/10) served with an “after eight” style chocolate with peppermint filling, and a coffee mousee topped with a coffee gelee. 


Overall, this is really a 1 star place to which someone has incomprehensibly given three stars.   At EUR 344 for two it is not cheap for a 1 star place.  We had Chateau Musar 1995 from the good wine list, which went from some fair prices to some vast mark-ups in places. 




In Belgium, there is Bruneau, which no longer has 3 stars (and based on my visit there 2 stars is a fairer assessment), a very capable place called Karmeliet in Bruges with consistent food and an excellent cheese board, and the very good Comme Chez Soi in Brussels.


Comme Chez Soi


This is a long established place with a cramped but pretty Belle Epoque dining room, serving just 36 covers.  A starter of two different terrines, one goose liver and one duck liver, was simple yet succeeded.  The texture of both was silky, with the duck liver terrine in particular have stunning depth of flavour, with a few capers lurking in the terrine to add a little bite.  Stella’s lobster salad was also superb (10/10).  My fillet of beef with truffles was cooked carefully, the black truffle slices adding an extra flavour to the good quality beef, which was served with a few potatoes, a pool of the cooking juices and some excellent flageolet beans on the side (8/10).  Cheese was in excellent condition, and had a couple of Belgian cheeses as well as the usual French ones such as a perfect Brie de Meaux.  A chocolate soufflé was stunning both in taste and lightness, though the addition of a few slices of pear at the bottom of the soufflé dish seemed unnecessary.  Coffee and nibbles were also excellent.  A very solid 3 star place.  Service was attentive.


Last visited January 2005.


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