Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christophe

Our reservation at Christophe' was a last minute decision, and a good one at that. Our hotel called for us just hours before we wanted to dine, and amazingly, scored us a table.

Christophe' is tucked away on a quiet side street, overlooking the Leliegracht canal, which sparkled in the dark night like a strand of jewels. Contemporary without being cold, the interior of Christophe', which was apparently remodeled in September, is decorated with lush carpet, ornate chandeliers dripping with onyx beads and walls that were the exact shade of chocolate as our dining room. In fact, from the outside, Christophe' looked like a store selling fabulous house furniture. Packaged like a sleek showroom, Christophe' has the kind of interior that wants you to imagine coming home to luxurious furnishings and kicking off your shoes while pouring a glass of wine. A more informal row of tables on the main floor gave way to a staircase and loft area holding rounds for the more intimate diners. Photographs of garlic and other vegetables lined the walls and seemed obvious and a little uninspired, but then, you're not dining there simply for the artwork .

Right from the start the staff were friendly and polite—even when my slip dress spun sideways as I was trying to take my coat off, momentarily giving everyone an idea of what my bra size might be, had I been wearing one. The gentleman taking our coats politely looked the other way as I stuffed myself back in my dress and allowed the nice burn of embarrassment to settle over my face.

The 4-course menu looked perfect with one exception for me: I did not think I could do the rabbit. I work hard to put myself in denial over a lot of the animals that I now eat, but having had a rabbit as a child, this was one course I just could not stomach. The server kindly let me substitute the course out, and I was prepared to take anything—of the seafood variety that is—but he sweetly told me to select whatever I wanted in place of the rabbit—and did not charge us extra for it. Major bonus points.

Frog Legs
Our dinner started off with an interesting surprise that was not on the menu. We were delivered a wonderful little amuse bouche that we both really enjoyed. When we asked what it was, our server seemed a little nervous as he explained that it was frog legs on sweet potato. I never had a pet frog growing up, so he did not need to worry. It was delicious.


Terrine of Rabbit
J got things started with the Terrine of preserved rabbit with sage, rosemary and chanterelle, reduction of créme de cassis

J thought the mushrooms, herbs and rabbit worked in perfect harmony. So far this is his favorite terrine ever. Now the bar has been set.


Tartine Campagnarde’ of vegetabels-anchoïade with Sea Bass
Tartine Campagnarde’ of vegetabels-anchoïade with Sea Bass

The asparagus and greens made a nice bed for this fresh and crispy piece of fish.


Scallops and Ravioli
Pan Fried Sea Scallop, Endives with Maple Syrup, Ravioli Filled with a Creme of Ceps

The scallops were perfectly seared pillows of seafood goodness! The cep filled ravioli offered a unique contrast to the scallops and instanlty transported my taste buds to an earthy forest floor. It was an interesting twist on the typical "surf and turf" that we quite enjoyed.


Roasted Wild Duck
Roasted Wild Duck with a Ragoût of du Puy Lentills and Trompettes de la Mort, Sauce of Smoked Garlic

J loves duck, and this certainly did not disappoint. The breast was meaty and delicious...if you closed your eyes you might think that you were eating a very tender slice of beef. Contrary to the breast cut, the leg is soft and delicate in your mouth practically melting as you chew.


Lemon Waffle and Marscapone Sorbet
Lemon Waffle with Marscapone Ice Cream

J is not a dessert person but even he had to agree that this is one of the best sweet treats we've had. The lemon and marscapone were playful together, and a refreshingly light way to conclude such a hearty meal.

We did a little research and found that original owner and chef Christopher Royer sold Christophe in 2006, and we presume the change in leadership may have been why this fabulous restaurant lost its Michelin star for 2007. Hopefully this is only temporary and just one of the hiccups in the Michelin system being slow to respond, because in our amateur opinion, the new Christophe' offers the kind of creative culinary experience worthy of Michelin's prestigious rating.

One cool thing to note is that the new owners of Christophe', Ellen Mansfield and John-Joel Bonsens, worked at the restaurant when it was under Royer's ownership. Mansfield still serves as the restaurant's attentive sommelier, and Bonsens, who worked with Royer for 15 years, now has complete supervision over the menu. Sometimes the change of command at a restaurant can be sad, as it means change to things you may like and a new direction that you may not. We will never know what Christophe' was like before, but we do know that Mansfield and Bonsens are certainly doing amazing things with it now.

Restaurant Christophe'
Leliegracht 46
1015 DH Amsterdam
Tel.: 020-6250807
Fax: 020-6389132
E-mail: info@restaurantchristophe.nl

1 Comments:

Blogger Kalyn said...

Surprise, suprise. Apparently the lovely Vanessa and I are not the only food bloggers in Utah after all. Very nice photos, and fun finding you.

7:21 AM  

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