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By April 07, 2017 , ,

One of my first ever reviews here on Kitchen Exile was of restaurant BAK. That last visit was nearly three years ago now. I had intended on not leaving it so long between visits but that is seemingly what happened. 

I was first made aware of BAK in 2014 by a chance encounter with one of their chefs while dining at Amass in Copenhagen and soon after visited the restaurant in Amsterdam. At my first visit I was bowled over by the techniques, seasonality and flavour combinations. So three years later what should I now expect, what has changed?

For one, the kitchen is now located upstairs, rather than hidden away in the basement, I also noticed they had a Big Green Egg in the kitchen too. There's also the new addition of the wine cabinet in the main dining area as well. You also have the choice of cocktails as well as a traditional gin and tonic (which was very nice, I might add) to kick off your meal.

BAK I would say is one of the forerunners of what I would now call the New Amsterdam scene for restaurants. In the last three years there has been a distinct shift in restaurants with new ventures springing up that seem to reflect the need to address the focus on seasonality, quality products and local Dutch food producers. BAK for me is one of the first restaurants to embrace this and brings with it the influences of the Scandi movement.
This focus was certainly lacking 6 years ago when I first moved to the Netherlands. The new guard are now serving Michelin quality food, but not in stuffy formal suroundings and without the accompanying high price tags. 

In fact BAK is one of the restaurants that time and time again features on many Dutch chefs, where to eat lists. Its also the one place many foreign chefs will come to eat, so that has got to say something. In January this year chef Benny Blisto made the decision that only game or wild meat would be served at the restaurant. Many of the wines on their list are natural. 

Our amuses to kick off the meal were a tortilla of celariac, horseradish and rapeseed flowers and an onion tart tatin. So not a bad start so far.

First course was kohlrabi with messeklever cheese and dill, a good combination of textures and flavours all well balanced

Moving on to the second course which was slow cooked egg yolk with black salsify and parsley, with a touch of earthy back notes from the wild garlic and acidity from the accompanying sauce.

Third course was en point cod with lovage and bottarga, some nice textures, the lovage was quite a strong flavour component. For me not the strongest dish of the evening in comparison with the others we had been served.

We opted to go with an extra course of crab which for me was the star dish of the evening. Sweet crab with sweet white asparagus simply charred, spiciness of the nasturium leaf and an earthy crab bisque sauce. This was absolutely sublime. We had to ask for extra bread and spoons as we didn't want to waste a drop of that sauce. 

The next course up was roe deer with beetroot and nettle. This course was in stark contrast with the light spring touches of the earlier courses. Almost a nod to winter with gamey deer with a nicely charred flavour and earthy piquant beet. The nettle provided a bitter backnote to balance the dish. 

Dessert consisted of not one but two courses, a refreshing palate cleanser of sea buckthorn and goats yoghurt. I have to note that on my last visit all those years ago I also had sea buckthorn as a dessert.  The second dessert was apple, hay and hemp seed, good combinations of flavours and textures, not cloyingly sweet and a nice end to the meal.

Service throughout the evening was attentive and the wines went really well with the dishes. The standout wine was the '14 Cuvée Laïs from Olivier Pithon. 

Once again a great meal was had by all, and my friends were pleasantly surprised by how reasonable the bill was for seven courses and wine pairings. I certainly will be back again and won't be leaving it so long in between visits!

For more information visit http://www.bakrestaurant.nl/nl

BAK resturant
Van Diemenstraat 408
1013 CR Amsterdam

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