Amsterdam restaurant Juuls opened on Albert Cuypstraat in November 2009. It has continued to live up to its opening hype - and the restaurant’s fun gimmicks certainly don't hurt its popularity.
The menu - a joyful mix of French and Dutch recipes with playful North African and Asian influences - is presented on index cards in a Hajenius cigar box. Although shuffling indecisively through the cards while the waitress stands waiting can exert undue pressure, this presentation forces you to consider each dish individually, rather than skimming the menu in search of ingredients you like.
The restaurant’s interior is a quirky blend of old and new. A sepia map of Amsterdam circa 1700 that covers one wall gives the restaurant a sense of heritage; but the glistening cutlery and vases of fresh flowers on each table bring it right up to date.
We started with slices of raw tuna and scallops with aromatic lemongrass risotto; and succulent, rosé quail accompanied by chickpeas, lentils and truffle sauce. Less adventurous but similarly divine main courses followed: a combination of duck breast and duck rillette with celeriac purée and sprouts; and pan-fried sea bream on a colourful bed of crawfish and vegetable risotto, drizzled with a boozy Pernod sauce.
Restaurant Juul’s wine list is mostly made up of French and Italian wines, but we chose a light, fruity Rivaner from the Hoeve Nekum estate in Maastricht, a great example of Holland’s fledgling wine industry.
We shared a dessert of three crunchy hazelnut and honey baskets, filled with mascarpone and red fruits and topped with slivers of fresh basil. It was skilfully made, particularly the sweet baskets which, if not carefully timed, can easily end up as teeth-destroying lumps of toffee. However, it lacked the finesse of the previous courses.
Restaurant Juuls is a great place to discover local, seasonal ingredients. It takes its food seriously but the execution comes with a large dose of humour. A couple too many tables have been squeezed into the space, making the description 'intimate' quite literal, but for an all-round good night out, Juuls is a little gem.
Mon-Sat 12.00-16.00; 18.00-24.00
Telephone: 020 471 0711
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