The white walls, white ceiling, white tablecloths and white crockery give restaurant Antoine the well-scrubbed appearance of a hospital canteen. Luckily, the quality of the food is several plastic trays away from bland hospital fare.
R. and I visited during Restaurant Week, seven days of cut-price culinary exploration when hundreds of restaurants across Amsterdam serve a three-course lunch or dinner for €20 and €25 respectively.
There is usually a set menu or limited choice. But if you manage to beat the booking frenzy that inevitably precedes Restaurant Week, it’s possible to get a table at a top restaurant that would normally charge a lot more for the same number of courses. This is the case at restaurant Antoine, where a three-course meal costs €39.50.
Our starter was a tartare of sea bass, topped with fried oysters and surrounded by dollops of herring caviar and cheerful mounds of antiboise. I’ve never understood the fuss made about oysters and while they didn't add much to this dish, it was a well-balanced combination of subtle and bold flavours.
The main course was a superior take on the meat-and-two-veg idea: perfectly rosé onglet steak, battered calf’s sweetbread, pureed parsnips, fondant potatoes, crisp asparagus and onion marmalade.
Dessert was literally a lineup of wentelteefje (French toast), hangop (thick, strained yoghurt), mango sorbet and mango salsa - a lovely, light combination that was more like a palate cleanser than a dessert.
Drinks are sadly not part of the Restaurant Week deal and, at around €9.50 for a glass of wine at Antoine, the drinks bill came to almost as much as the meal. This aside, we got to eat in a restaurant we’d never been to before - one of the main aims of the event - and we didn't even need a doctor's note to get in.
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