The latest venture from a trio of Amsterdam entrepreneurs, including Casper Reinders of Jimmy Woo and Bo Cinq, restaurant Lion Noir offers contemporary dining in what are best described as mock colonial surroundings.
The airy 17th-century coach house previously occupied by Het Tuynhuys has been turned into a dark, atmospheric lounge and eatery, where spotlights pick out chocolate banquettes, ornamental birdcages and - oddly - a stuffed peacock perched above the fireplace. The beautiful ‘secret’ garden behind the restaurant is still there, but the average age of the clientele has halved.
The menu, described as a 'great arrangement of life's basic necessities', is presented as French but is liberally sprinkled with international influences, including chorizo, pecorino cheese and tabouleh. I started with well- seasoned rabbit shoulder in aspic (a savoury jelly that’s notoriously hard to make), served in a tall glass with a simply roasted langoustine claw jutting menacingly over the rim.
The main course, presented on a long white plate, de rigueur in Amsterdam restaurants that want to appear trendy, was a roasted free-range chicken accompanied by triangles of polenta, rucola and an earthy morel sauce.
The presentation was a little confused. Few chefs can make wilted rucola look appetising and there was a lot of it, but the flavours were generally good. This was with the exception of the polenta, which drooped insipidly at one end of the plate.
Dessert - also served on a large white plate - comprised lemon custard topped cappuccino-style with limoncello meringue, a mouthful of moist sponge cake and lemon marmalade. The custard had the consistency of lemon curd, with the delectable acidity of fresh lemons that makes you suck your cheeks in.
A prominent Dutch restaurant critic concluded that the quality of the food at restaurant Lion Noir is too high for the large, young (and apparently boisterous) groups of diners. Rather than being miffed by the implication that haute cuisine is the preserve of sedate baby boomers, I would say: keep the good food coming (we rowdy youngsters do appreciate it); just make sure the wines are of the same quality (we appreciate that too).
Mon-Thur 11:30- 01:00, Fri until 03.00; Sat 18.00-03.00; Sun 18.00-01.00
Telephone: 020 627 6603
Web: go directly to homepage