My first night in Amsterdam started off by celebrating my best friend’s belated birthday!
My childhood friend, Minée, recently moved to the Dutch capital and Tommaso and I wanted to take her out to one of the fine dining restaurants in the city. Ciel Bleu, a two Michelin starred restaurant, is located on the 23rd floor of the Hotel Okura in the trendy De Pijp district. The cuisine is modern European with Dutch influences where they offer three tasting menus or the à la carte menu. We opted for one of the tasting menus.
Bitterballen, a traditional Dutch snack, are fried croquettes filled with meat mixed with a gravy like sauce. This modern interpretation was stuffed with nagelhout beef (salted dried beef similar to bresaola) and fresh spring peas. Super tasty. The olive financier was a bit overpowering in the olive flavor where I couldn’t taste the goat yogurt or almonds.
These crispy light crackers were dusted with ras el hanout, a North African spice blend, served with a creamy artichoke purée and fruity olive oil.
Tom yum is a traditional Thai soup with shrimp that’s tangy and sour and this amuse bouche was a fun take on those flavors. The cracker on the bottom was actually crispy chicken skin topped with baby shrimp, chili, and coconut. An explosive bite of various flavors.
The server brought out a trolley cart where he concocted a green apple, celery, and gin “cocktail” table side. He then poured the mixture around the plate hence the title “shaken not stirred” which was fun and engaging. The briny plump oyster really paired nicely with the freshness of the vibrant green apple celery “cocktail” that just had a touch of gin flavor.
They offered various types of butter including herb, yuzu, buckwheat, onion, and normal.
This is a signature dish at Ciel Bleu and while the presentation was stunning, the flavors were off. I was expecting an intense savory taste but instead the cream on top of the king crab was sweet and overpowered the crab and caviar. The crispy outside shell was also sweet which left the entire dish unbalanced.
Langoustine is by far one of my favorite types of seafood and hard to find in the states. Perfectly cooked, tender yet browned on the outside, the langoustine was served with a rich carrot sauce flavored with vadouvan spices, carrot pieces, and tart kumquat.
Juicy moist cod fish was topped with hop shoots, a type of vegetable that’s super crunchy and slightly bitter that added nice texture.
Expertly cooked duck breast was lacquered with spices and had the crispiest skin. Served with a delicious jus, this was probably one of the best duck preparations I’ve had in awhile.
Basteeya is a traditional Moroccan pastry with phyllo dough stuffed with meat, typically pigeon. This version was with duck meat but didn’t have as much filling as I wanted and was slightly doughy and not flaky.
Nougat de Montélimar, a French speciality candy, consists of almonds, pistachios, honey, and a light mousse made with egg whites. This fun interpretation was meant to be eaten in one or two bites that was reminiscent of the French delicacy.
A stunning presentation of a white chocolate “mandarin” with a mandarin ice cream ball filled with matcha flavored ice cream. Underneath was a chewy biscuit and around the plate were juicy segments of citrus and crunchy meringue.
The meal ended with various petit fours, all delicious and beautifully presented.
Ciel Bleu provided a pleasant dining experience with beautifully curated dishes that tasted delicious. My only criticism was that the timing between the first few dishes was way too long. However, once I told our server that we were on a time crunch, dishes came out at a very reasonable pace which we appreciated. Overall, I’d rate Ciel Bleu at an 8/10.
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