Carstens (restaurant)

Edition 8 March 2019, Paola Westbeek

Carstens takes diners on a delectable culinary journey featuring a fine selection of Holland’s gourmet treasures: from the North Sea’s freshest fish, to the robust tastes of the Dutch countryside.  Conveniently located opposite Amsterdam’s Central Station and part of the Park Plaza Victoria Hotel, Carstens opened its doors this past February and is the brainchild of Maik Kuijpers, former head chef at Zwolle’s renowned three-star restaurant De Librije***. Kuijpers’s mission is to bring farm-fresh produce to the Dutch brasserie’s city table, showcasing some of the country’s most authentic flavours and giving dishes a creative twist.

When we visit in mid-winter, our meal opens with a variety of starters that reflect the season without being stodgy. There is bright yellow beetroot served carpaccio-style on goat’s yoghurt and sprinkled with a crisp topping of tiny croutons, sunflower seeds and frisee lettuce. We also sample a Dutchified Caesar salad consisting of thinly-sliced and deep-fried kale on a leaf of Romaine lettuce. The scattering of briny anchovies, salted almonds and aged Dutch cheese add zest, while the poached egg’s runny yolk provides a silky contrast. Our dishes are complemented by the Cuvée XII Apostelhoeve 2016, a refreshing white blend produced in Maastricht, and one of the several Dutch wines on the list. Notably, the rest of the list consists of international wines made by Dutch winegrowers. Many of Carstens’s quality ingredients come from Lindenhoff Farm in Baambrugge (supplier to some of the country’s top restaurants), so it isn’t any wonder that on their choice of mains we find Baambrugge pork, one of the farm’s signature products. Slowly braised for eight hours in its own juices, the meltingly tender pork cheeks is a nostalgic dish inspired by Kuijpers’s grandmother. Each main can be paired with a choice of sides including potatoes, salads and vegetables. We indulge in steaming chips with mayonnaise; a stamppot of mashed potatoes, tarragon and sour cream; and the star of Dutch winter vegetables, brussels sprouts, not boiled but rustically presented just as they were prepared –  roasted, on the stem.

Dessert features creations with classic Dutch flavours such as speculaas, advocaat (Dutch eggnog) and homemade boerenjongens (raisins soaked in brandy). Especially memorable is the Dutch toast: warm, golden bread, soft as a cloud and crowned with a glossy blueberry sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Still doubting there’s such a thing as Dutch gastronomy? Book a table at Carstens and judge for yourself.

Carstens
Hasselaerssteeg 1
Lunch
Mon-Fri: 12:00 – 15:00
Sat-Sun:    12:30 – 15:00
Dinner
Mon-Sun 18:00 – 22:00
T: 020 52 40 649
W: www.carstensbraserrie.nl