Edition 26 April 2018, by Paola Westbeek
Situated on Herengracht, in Amsterdam’s monumental Canal Belt, is Brasserie Ambassade. The fusion of French cuisine, fine wines and renowned CoBrA art is guaranteed to deliciously rouse the senses. Food, much like art, has the ability to delight and fascinate, and at Brasserie Ambassade both manage to effortlessly merge – at the table and in a most exquisite ambiance. The brasserie, which opened its doors in 2015 and is part of the four-star Ambassade Hotel, serves classic French cuisine amidst an impressive selection of CoBrA art, an expressionist movement founded in Paris in 1948. Its name is derived from the first letter of the capitals of these countries: Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. CoBrA was the greatest avant-garde movement of the 20th century and is characterized by spontaneous, almost childlike expression that forgoes conventional rules of composition and makes use of bold primary colors.
The first thing to capture the attention is the soberly elegant decor with tall windows that let in plenty of light and afford stunning canalside views. It is the ultimate setting for the brilliant display of artworks and a good excuse to order a glass of Champagne and let your eyes wander before perusing the menu. And yes, the food is just as remarkable as the collection gracing the walls.
Our meal was a well orchestrated symphony of flavours combined with a clever selection of wines. The entrée consisted of rillettes topped with buttery foie gras and paired with an aromatic Pinot Blanc Auxerrois from Alsace – a balanced wine with a smooth, luscious palate and hints of honey and butterscotch. The dish that followed, ‘Slow Escargots’ (sustainably sourced from a producer in the village of Nieuwaal by Zaltbommel), was exemplary of the restaurant’s emphasis on using quality local produce. They arrived sizzling and succulent with thinly sliced bread to mop up the pools of herbed butter. The star of our meal was a tender and flaky fillet of cod served on a bed of prawn risotto. Both the bright anchovy butter crowning the delicate fish as well as the crème of pumpkin and beurre blanc gave the dish a vivid jolt of extra zest. Not to mention the choice that was poured into our glass: the South African Bouchard Finlayson Chardonnay, a wine with an expressive minerality and refreshing hints of citrus. The culmination was a rich chocolate tart with a touch of caramel, fresh forest fruits and vanilla ice cream. A sip of the equally voluptuous and silky dessert wine, the Maury ‘La Cerisaie’ from Domaine des Schistes in de Roussillon, and we almost wanted to stand up and applaud.
It wasn’t just the superb level of culinary refinement and art that made our meal so memorable, but also the friendly staff who served us with genuine warmth and expertise. After our espresso, we were graciously escorted through the rest of the establishment, which boasts fifty-seven rooms and suites as well as a library housing more than four thousand books signed by their authors. Discovering Brasserie Ambassade went far and beyond a purely gustatory experience. We left culturally enriched and deliciously impressed.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner