The shabby-chic interior and unexpected flavour combinations make Amsterdam restaurant Wilde Zwijnen ('wild boars') a fantastic addition to Oost, where the culinary scene is still in its infancy.
We had originally gone to the Wilde Zwijnen for an afternoon drink, but as the Sauvignon Blanc flowed and the evening wore on, staying for food became a logical choice, if not a necessity.
Rather than a starter, we ordered the snack platter. Served on a round hunk of worn wood, which looked like it had been the lid of a barrel or vat in a former life, the platter comprised slices of cheese from Fromagerie Kef, roasted beetroots, cocktail gherkins, a pot of light, lemony mayonnaise, chunky farmer’s pâté, and crusty sourdough bread. A great beginning.
Without exception, all the main courses looked fantastic. Many of the ingredients on Wilde Zwijnen’s menu are locally sourced or feature prominently in traditional Dutch food. Among them are North Sea shrimp, Alkmaar pearl barley, red cabbage and juniper berries. These are complemented by so-called forgotten vegetables such as parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes, and the odd dash of jenever (Dutch gin) from Amsterdam distillery Van Wees.
We visited the restaurant in January, when the menu was dominated by wintry combinations. The Wilde Zwijnen stew was made from the eponymous hog, caught in the Veluwe region of central Holland. The meat, which had been slow cooked for several hours, was bursting with earthy, porcine loveliness.
Accompanying it was a slick of celeriac purée, and a tangle of parsnip crisps. The parsnips’ sweet overtones added another dimension to the dish, but the volume of them made the plate look as if it were buried under a pile of wood shavings.
As we had with the mains, we dithered indecisively over the desserts. I eventually ordered semolina crème brûlée with a scoop of Earl Grey and blueberry sorbet, simply because it sounded the most intriguing. I couldn't detect the Earl Grey, but the semolina crème brûlée was inspired - smooth and silky, but much lighter than the standard version which is made almost entirely from cream.
Wilde Zwijnen is a great addition to Amsterdam Oost and the food was all but flawless. Service needs to be tightened up, but to avoid becoming frustrated by it, visit on an evening when you have nowhere else to be.
Tue-Sun 12.00-01.00 (lunch 12.00-16.00; dinner 18.00-22.15)
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Telephone: 020 463 3043
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