Herengracht 413, 1017 BP, Amsterdam +email@example.com
Johannes is a relatively new opening in a smart part of town (Amsterdam) that seems not to have had anywhere the level of media hype that accompanies comparable UK events. Rumour has it that the restaurant is named after the grand old man of Amsterdam food critics Johannes van Dam… but I couldn’t possible comment. Johannes sits on the ground floor of a canalside house on the Herengracht, one of the prettiest of the city’s canals. The dining room is understated and full of bourgeois locals, but the real action is in the kitchen. Run by chefs Arne Andreasson and Tommy den Hartog, there is no menu, you just select from a choice of 4 (€48), 5 (€60) or 6 courses (€72) with a cheese course at €12 and wine pairings priced at €30, €37,50 and €45.
We opened the proceedings with a delicious glass of Cremant de Bourgogne, Cuvée Lucien Brut (a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Aligoté) made by Vitteaut Alberti, a small company in Rully in the southern part of Burgundy. It tasted of pears and had a good balance of acidity.
And then the food started to come.
Croquettes are a Dutch staple and whilst my knowledge of the Dutch gastro scene is relatively underdeveloped it appears that that the aforementioned Mr van Dam is known locally as ‘Monsieur Croquette’ so this is clearly a nod to him. The Johannes versions were stuffed variously with mustard duxelles and a ballotine of pheasant in a mustard sauce. Both were pretty sensational with a depth of flavour and richness that was probably meant to surprise.
We were drinking a bottle of Michel Gassier 2012 Viognier which was probably too southern in its richness and full of the flavour of apricots for the food.
The next course also showed a sense of humour. The Full English Breakfast was just that, albeit a deconstructed version; eggs, tomatoes, beans, bacon and sausage.
Smoked eel is another classic Dutch ingredient. Here it was presented with beetroot sorbet, roast beetroot, apple and foie gras. This was a lovely dish that was like a modernist still life, an exercise in flavour and colour.
A lovely piece of turbot was overcooked and lacking in flavour but the accompanying puy lentils in a sauce perigord (truffles and foie gras) served with slivers of a creamy Dutch cheese, were delicious.
Delicate and perfectly cooked Sweetbreads came with wild spinach, truffles and a red wine sauce.
Silky Ravioli were stuffed with a cream of Jerusalem artichoke and lobster and served with wild spinach-another terrific dish.
Cod with pumpkin cannelloni came with a seafood sauce. The fish was perfect, full of flavour.
We opted for the organic cheese plate. There was a surrogate Brie, a sticky cream cheese, the inevitable Edam, a herby hard goat’s cheese and a blue. I was hoping for more interesting tastes from the cheese selection which was a little underwhelming.
However the dessert really delivered. Blood orange sorbet, blood orange pannacotta with a chocolate brownie and white chocolate mousse. It was a deconstructed chocolate orange, a taste collage of bitter, sweet and citrus with great textural variety.
Johannes is a restaurant to visit if you are looking for something contemporary to eat in Amsterdam. There are a few issues to resolve but it is already operating at. a high level. The closest London equivalent for me in terms of the food is Pollen St Social so if that’s your kind of thing you should go.