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Niven 1* - Restaurant review

By December 13, 2015 , , ,

Last Friday we took ourselves to Niven in Rijswijk. As you may know I got to spend a day working in the kitchens as part of my prize for the Tasty Talent competition. So it was only fair that I tried out the fare to see what the food was like. Niven has been on my “to-eat” list for some time, but it is a case of too many restaurants and so little time, or the fact my list is getting a little too big!

Niven gained it’s Michelin star about 10 years ago and has successfully retained it again this year. The restaurant layout is certainly impressive, simple yet stylish decor for the main dining area and there’s also a chefs table area off to the side near the kitchens. For my visit we were located in the chefs table area where we could watch all the action in the kitchen.

The meal we had was the 10 course tasting menu, it does sound rather a lot but I have had more courses in the past in places like The Fat Duck and L'Enclume. The good thing about this menu is the portions were well proportioned and you weren’t waddling out the door at the end of the night. Service was slick and attentive without being overly so and there was the added mix of the chefs also serving the food as well as the waiters and waitresses (Copenhagen style!).  

The wine list has a good selection to suit all pockets and rather than the traditional mix of whites, then reds sorted by region it is sorted by region. I elected to have the wine arrangement to accompany the menu.

We started off with 4 amuses; beetroot waffle, red pepper cones, cucumber spaghetti and a piccalilli jelly. The beetroot and the cones being my favourites, the beetroot had a good earthy base and I liked the fact the pepper mousse was backed up by the creaminess of goats cheese.

The first course was a bit of a surprise in the fact it came in the form of a soft boiled egg accompanied by a mini brioche loaf.  I was expecting something along the lines of the Moshik Roth “perfect egg dish” or a Glynn Purnell egg surprise. The egg was simply a soft boiled egg cooked well, not exactly a roaring start and frankly a bit disappointing. 

With the following dish the game stepped up somewhat in the form of the most exquisite mackerel dish. Unsually the dish had meringues but paired with the savouriness of the sauce and the strong flavour of the fish itself it was a wonderful marriage of flavours.

Next up was tofu and foie gras wrapped in celeriac, again subtle flavours with an Asian twist and a good textural contrast with the rice crisp which had a subtle flavour of lime. I did really like this dish, but my other half is still raving about it.

The next course was a vision in red with a play of sharp lettuce, salt from the iberico ham and creamy flavours as well as the piquancy of the horseradish. All worked together really well.

The next dish for me was the star of the show, perfectly cooked halibut with a corn sauce, mushrooms and pearl barley. Absolutely stunning in its simplicity but great complexity in flavours and textures with the sweetness of corn complementing the saltiness of the fish, which was cooked to perfection, and then a nutty edge with the pearl barley.

We moved onto two meat dishes one of which was a beef stew inside a potato. While the stew was rich and tasty, the potato texture and flavour dominated the dish somewhat so the beef was lost. What followed was a simple beef sucade which although tasty lacked the impact of the earlier dishes.

Next up was a small but perfectly formed cheese course, the portions were not huge, but for the number of dishes we were having it was a nice nod to tradition.

To finish we had a succession of dishes; chocolate coated vanilla parfait and then a delicate bread pudding with caramel ice cream dessert. Not too heavy and a good end to the meal.

Wine pairings throughout were nicely matched and well thought out. The friandaises were a nice touch with the coffee, not too many but a lovely contrast of textures and flavours.

All in all a very enjoyable evening with great food and good service and you can really see why Michelin have continually awarded them a well deserved star for 10 years in a row. 

I will certainly be back again at some point.

For more information and reservations check out their site www.restaurantniven.nl

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