Amsterdam Eats: Restaurant Lt Cornelis

Food bloggers are a godsend when you’re travelling for culinary exposure. During my last visit to Amsterdam, I found some really good gems on Vicky’s blog (Amsterdam Foodie). I ended up picking a few cafe and restaurant recommendations, particularly Restaurant Lt Cornelis which, later in 2016, she listed as her choice for best Dutch restaurant of the year.

Set in a tastefully decorated building in Spui, Lt.Cornelis aims to enable punters to experience Dutch cuisine through a combination of traditional and seasonal local Dutch ingredients and modern cooking.

The bar setting looked cosy and I loved the round lamps atop the counter.

We perused the short menu and opted for the safe choice, a 3-course menu which was a bargain at €35. It took three waiters to show us how the set menu works and which dishes came on the list. But we got there in the end.

A trio of amuse bouche came. First, some saucisson with pickle, then some strong parmesan crisps, and finally good ol’ prawn bitterballen which I absolutely adored and wished more of.

To start, a salad of smoked ham, apple, and root vegetables. It’s refreshingly crisp, and embodied what I had envisioned Dutch picnics were like.

Another starter was a  fillet of mackerel shines on top of rhubarb and mustard seed dressing. Mackerel is my “marmite” of the sea; I love it and hate it and have to be in the mood for it before I eat it. This dish was quite a winner, as the fish was fresh and had a tasty zing that livened it up.

In place of dessert, I ordered the extra barley risotto, which was clever and delicious. Made with Jerusalem artichokes, grilled leeks and messenklever cheese, and some chopped nuts, it was delightfully rich and rather comforting. I enjoyed the textures of the risotto itself, the barley having a bit of a toasted crunch. There’s an earthiness to it that reminds me of colder days but it’s light enough to eat for the sunshine.

My main was a dish of grilled hake with langoustines, samphire, pea puree, and a foamy bisque. I dug into the langoustine first, attacking it with memories of the beautiful dish from Alain Ducasse… only to find it was raw.

I had to send it back to the kitchen, which I hate doing. I felt embarrassed for the chefs and I felt rather apologetic about it. It’s exactly how I felt at La Palme d’Or in Cannes when I had to send my sweetbreads back for a teensy eyelash I found.

When my dish came back, instead of an apology, our server seemed a bit huffy.

HIM: We cooked your dish now. But do you know langoustine?
ME: Yes, I know my shellfish. And I've had a brilliant langoustine starter at Alain Ducasse in London a few months ago.
HIM: Oh really? Because it was meant to be served raw. The only mistake here is that it goes raw on the dish and I didn't say it.

I was taken aback. Is this guy for real?! I’m not sure where the whole defensiveness came from but my gosh, did it annoy me. Also, I think we all know I can tell sashimi from a mistake.

It’s such a shame that my server was a bit too nonchalant about the slight mishap because I think I got a bit turned off after the attitude issue. But in all deference to truth, my fish was beautifully cooked. And the langoustine, once grilled, ended up bringing a sweet-smoky element to the dish itself.

B’s beef dish fared well although admittedly, I would’ve preferred it a bit more rare. Laid on a bed of greens, each slice was tender and well marinated. The dish as a whole was delicious and I enjoyed it more than the fish dish.

B was rather full so I happily helped with dessert. It was a deconstructed tart of some sort, with a hefty serving of berries and coulis, topped with pastry biscuits which were ace. It was a nice summery dessert and a sweet, light ending to our meal.

Verdict for Restaurant Lt.Cornelis

I’m going to be as frank here as I possibly can. During my visit, I found service in the restaurant rather lacklustre. And that incident with the langoustine was just really annoying. Thankfully, the redeeming factor was the food itself, which I thought was relevantly modern and interesting. It was a good introduction to inventive Dutch food. Perhaps floor service was having an off-day, but I applaud the kitchen for producing outstanding fare.

If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam and get the munchies, this is a place you should absolutely try.

Restaurant Lt Cornelis
Voetboogstraat 13, 1012 XK Amsterdam
Ave spend pp is €45

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    • Honey de Gracia
      28th February 2017 / 6:26 pm

      Thanks Emma! To be honest, there’s always going to be something, is there? But when it’s really annoying, it’s REALLY annoying!

  1. 28th February 2017 / 4:29 pm

    Oh no what a shame your langoustine was raw! Ironically, went I visited Ducasse in November at The Dorchester I sent my main back - it was really not good but what made it all ok was that the staff were so incredibly apologetic and didn’t even question me….they were mortified and so was I but that’s what differentiates a mediocre restaurant experience from a good one! Loving the decor inside Lt.Cornelis

    • Honey de Gracia
      28th February 2017 / 6:27 pm

      OH what a shame, Maggie! But I do agree, mistakes can always happen - it’s the way they deal with it that makes or breaks the experience!

      It is a beautifully decorated restaurant, admittedly!

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