I am fortunate to have clients all around the world and to be able to travel to experience the best and most unique food opportunities that exist on the planet. After being introduced to the Dutch consulting practice of KPMG in May 2011, I have been staying connected and hoping that we could find a way to partner up on a few projects. Our new client and friend, selected a wonderful location for the discussion – De Kas Restaurant.
This space is out of this world or rather ‘on the farm’. With a beautiful and picturesque stage, set in the in middle of Frankendael Park in East Amsterdam, this used to be a working production facility for growing food for blue collar workers in the late 1920s through the Great Depression. When scheduled to be demolished in the early 2000’s Gert Jan Hageman took it upon himself to develop a spectacular restaurant concept.
The dining area is situated in and around a variety of different food production areas. Mostly for show, but nonetheless useful, there are two major growing areas at the front of the building at the entrance which leave little to the imagination about where the food will be eaten. It is great from an education standpoint to recognize what it takes to provide you with the food that you are eating.
Walking into the room at night must have a very different appreciation than what one would have during the day, but regardless you are overwhelmed with sense of space. Vaulted ceilings surround and are even higher than you can imagine. The lighting is minimal and simplistic, making the glassware and people’s eyes twinkle. My client mentioned that there were several very well known faces in the audience that he recognized from the Amsterdam elite community. While I didn’t pick up on that component, I did feel like we all looked like stars under the endless ceiling.
A preplanned menu is always my preference – way less decisions to be made and we were fortunate to have a conscious and thoughtful chef who took my allergies into consideration (some of which didn’t translate perfectly, but the gist of it was clear and I was able to eat almost everything on my plate). The taste profile was a mix between what I would know of traditional Danish food blended with Norwegian and French cuisine. The scallops (which are shown below) were my particular favorite. The presentation was embedded into some sort of fairytale, with the shell acting as the stage and the radish and spinach leaf looking the part of the props. Fabulous.
The kitchen was open plan and glass so you could enjoy watching your meal prepared. The entire restaurant design met the integrity of the original greenhouse and it flowed beautifully. The simplicity of the choices and the thoughtfulness of the execution made this space unique.
Sustainable? This is such a tough question. I would say that they have done a lot of things right and considered the environment all along the way, but with the massive ceiling, facility and quantity of plates served at dinner might have bumped it out of that category.
An experience, absolutely. Enjoy!