Dinner with a view
The Amsterdam Tower, the vast arches of the railway station and the frog-like Eye filmmuseum are picture-perfectly framed by the panoramic windows of restaurant MOS. Sweeping views across the water are part of the dining experience here, but Egon van Hoof, the chef, made sure our gaze shifted inward with every plate brought to our table. Was it all visual pleasure at MOS, or was our sense of taste indulged too?
After having been seated by the chef himself and having gasped at the magnificent views, we tried to focus on the menu and the wine list. The latter was the greater challenge. As our six-course tasting menu was going to be light and consisted of four fish courses, we were advised to go for a classic French white wine. We chose a Chassagne-Montrachet by Bruno Colin, a vintner that Jancis Robinson warmly commended in one of her recent columns: lightly oaked, elegant and fresh.
Soon enough our first bites were served. The most prominent one was a tapioca cracker with baba ganoush, a yoghurt-and-curry cream and a vinaigrette of apple and Buddha’s hand (an Asian citrus). It was well balanced and certainly whetted our appetite.
Baba Ganoush, yoghurt and curry cream, vinaigrette of apple and Buddha's hand
The first course was a cannellone of smoked mackerel with a lemongrass gel. Next to it was a fennel and black sesame cream with puffed rice, wasabi and dried kombu (a type of seaweed), and thinly sliced mackerel in a lemongrass vinaigrette. We were advised to eat all three parts together. I couldn’t resist sampling the individual parts separately, but having done so, the experience of mixing them together in my mouth was truly fantastic. The crunchy cannellone, the briny and smoky flavours of the fish, the fresh touch of the lemongrass, the kick of the wasabi and the sweet accent of the fennel added up to something that was more than the sum of its parts. A clear favourite.
Cannellone of smoked mackerel and thinly sliced mackerel
A hiccup in the kitchen, delaying our second course for too long, was probably the only blemish on a great culinary evening. When the roasted langoustine came we were happy though. It was wrapped in a wafer-thin, transparent film of lardo di Colonnata and served with slow cooked, super soft pork belly, a very interesting and successful layering of flavours. Pineapple provided a sweet accent, a tad of acidity came from the caperberries and crunch from a shard of papadum.
The third course, a piece of corvina (mediterranean sea bass, slightly overcooked) was served with grey North Sea shrimps, a coulis of string bean (snijboon), cream of Nouilly Prat, white pickled Chioggia beetroot and a crumble of pearl barley. It was decorated with a sheet of violet potato paper, made of egg white and mashed potato. I should have been happy about the use of string beans, one of my favorite but often overlooked vegetables. Unfortunately, the combination didn’t really work for me. The delicate salty flavors of the shrimps, however, enhanced the dish.
Our last fish was a piece of gurnard, the skin perfectly crisp. Loved it. I have a bit of prejudice when it comes to combining fish and cheese, but the cream of mature Dutch cheese wasn’t out of place at all. Four preparations of cauliflower, that justifiably popular vegetable, potato, truffle cream and crunchy rye crumble made this dish into a perfect transition to our single meat course. The roasted, tender veal loin was served with a velvety cream of celeriac and pistacchio, a puree of duxelles mushrooms and a tarragon gravy: spring and a last salute to winter.
Veal loin, celeriac, duxelles
We sought a glass of special red wine with our main. The sommelier – engaging and knowledgeable – let us taste a couple of unusual wines, including an elegant Israeli wine made with the Barbera grape before settling us on a funky yet smooth wine from the Bellet appellation around Nice. MOS distinguished itself with a trove of wines that were a mix of classic houses and some very unusual bottles from up-and-coming wine makers across the world.
A tropical dessert came in two pieces: half a shell of a passionfruit filled with cold semi-frozen coconut mousse-like foam on one side, and coconut and passionfruit ice cream on the other side. Pandan leaf cream and a burnt slices of orange lifted this sweet treat to something above ‘just another dessert’.
Passionfruit and Coconut
Egon van Hoof, who worked at top restaurants such as Ron Blaauw and Aan de Poel, and his experienced business partner responsible for the front of the house, managed to make MOS into an instant success. Barely a year and a half after opening, they were deservedly awarded their first Michelin star. The waiting staff, perhaps a bit slick, and the sommelier only added to the total experience. The dishes were all good, had some nice twists and went beyond the mere classic. The views were vast, the food was fantastic.
A room with a view
IJdok 185 – Amsterdam (Netherlands)
T: +31 20 638 0866
Six-course menu: € 67,-