About a week ago, I had my fourth and final dinner in Amsterdam at Wilde Zwijnen restaurant at Javaplein 23. When I arrived, there was a lively scene outside, the temperature was pleasant, and that is where I asked to sit. I was directly inside — I was told that the outside would be emptying up and that the inside would fill up.
My name was on the table so I was somewhat invested, but inside was hot and sitting there in an empty restaurant wishing I was outside colored my enjoyment of the meal.
The view of the restaurant from where I was sitting: The restaurant had a beautiful a la carte menu. I immediately saw dishes I would have liked to have. However the menu also offered a secret chef’s menu with two options– a three-course or a four-course option. They don’t tell you what is on the chef’s menu–you have to order it blind. I went with the 4-course chef’s menu, assuming that the dishes would be a creative representation of the chef’s cooking.
The first course was plaice with squid and octopus over potatoes, cucumbers, frise lettuce and red onions with a black ink sauce
The second course was a garlic soup. It was delicious. But I thought the hazelnuts overpowered the soup so I pushed them aside.
In the meantime, people had shown up for their reservations and most of them had asked to sit outside. Inside was still hot and, except for a couple of tables, empty.
From where I was sitting I could see the kitchen at the opposite end of the restaurant. I noticed the chef was running dishes to a number of tables. I was surprised he never brought a dish to my table. People dining in groups are there for the company and the conversation (in addition to the food), but a solo diner is just there just for the food. So, I thought if he was spending time greeting the tables, it would have been nice if he had said hello.
The third course was sliced beef with a fennel sausage with steamed vegetables, a couple of cubes of beef and a schmear of red onion purée. This was the most disappointing dish. Disappointing not just because the meat was a little bland and slightly tough, but also because it was boring. It seemed more like a dish on a prix fixe menu–simple, common dishes–nothing too challenging. I thought the chef’s menu was supposed to be something else, something more unique and interesting. I wished I had chosen one of the interesting sounding dishes on the a la carte menu instead.
Dessert was a yoghurt mousse, which marinated strawberries, almond crumble, a red sorbet, and an earl grey granita.