August 11, 2014

Amsterdam - Ron Gastrobar

I was in Amsterdam 3 weeks ago with Nene, V and JC. We had made reservations for lunch at Ron Gastrobar the day we arrived, but we were too jetlagged to make it. We instead changed the reservation to dinner the next night. Ron Blaauw closed down his eponymous fine-dining restaurant (2 Michelin stars) last year and re-opened it under the name Ron Gastrobar, serving food with a totally different concept. The new casual dining establishment quickly earned a Michelin star this year. I was excited about this restaurant since it was helmed by a reputable chef, and also because we had been stuffing ourselves full of Belgian fries, croquets and waffles since arriving in Amsterdam. We were all eager to have non-greasy fast food. 

The ambiance was hip and lively. The bar was colorfully lit while the rest of the place was a bit dark. Perfect place for drinks.

We were seated next to this meat locker fridge thing. They didn't have any other tables available because of our last minute reservation change. Throughout our meal, servers would come over to retrieve steaks. It was quite inconvenient as V had to get out of her seat to let them open the door each time. They apologised profusely every time though.

The menu was pretty straightforward. All dishes were 15 Euros (about HK$155) while desserts were at 6 Euros. Our server told us we should pick at least 2 dishes per person. 

Three Oysters in Shallot Vinaigrette: Can't remember what oysters they were, but they were briny. The vinaigrette was tangy and fresh.

Pan fried langoustine with leek, onions and chorizo sausage: 15 euros for one langoustine. Quite a small portion I would say. The chorizo sauce was very salty, but it proved to be a nice dipping sauce for the sweet roasted veggies. The leek was very buttery.

Green gazpacho with salad of green asparagus, avocado, cherries and fresh almond: I love gazpacho. This one was light, with green pepper being the dominant flavour. There was a bit of heat from the garlic, and I liked the nice pops of sweetness from cherries. The presentation was beautiful. Loved the flowers.

Now what could be in this cute little pizza delivery box?

Disappointment. Pizza with Oosterschelde lobster, ajo blanco, sumac and spring herbs from our garden: The base was a very hard piece of pita bread which was almost impossible to cut through. The ajo blanco (white garlic soup) tasted like regular mayo, the lobster was rubbery and the herbs on top did nothing to rescue the dish. Oh and this was 20 Euros. When cut into 4, each portion was bite size only.

BBQ spare ribs with homemade sambal, smoked beet and horseradish: This was one of the better dishes of the night. I couldn't taste the smoked beet but I can tell you this was a damn good piece of char siu (Cantonese BBQ pork). The meat was sweet and salty, and it melted in my mouth. The crispy bits on the top were a nice touch too.

Crispy fried sweetbread with Boemboe Bali and apple sauce: One sweetbread only! However, it was well seasoned and had a nice crust. The sauce was sweet and paired well with the sweetbread.

Sushi made of young spring vegetables from our own garden, inspired by Alain Passard: Alain would be horrified to know such "food" items have been "inspired" by him. Here and here are what his creations look like. I am rarely this negative about food, but I must make an exception. These were cold blobs of sticky sour rice with the consistency of toothpaste or glue. JC said, and I quote, "Whoever created this dish was not in their right mind". The beetroot was flavoured with strong white pepper, and the avocado was sour. The sauces on the side of each mush didn't compliment the toppings. It was just a horrible concept from start to finish. It would've been better if they had served a normal salad instead of attempting to be creative.

USA Black Angus: According to the menu, this came from the same supplier as Peter Luger in New York City. The supplier must have stiffed Ron somehow because this steak was far from what I remember having. It was under-seasoned and had lots of chewy connective tissue parts in it. It also could've done with a better sear.

However, the steak was served with bone marrow, fries and BĂ©arnaise sauce: The bone marrow was delicious. It was served on top of a spicy tomato confit which cut through the richness of the marrow. Fries were good and the creamy Bearnaise added flavour to the bland steak.

Complimentary mini ice cream cones to end our night. These were peanut butter with a caramel sauce.

Verdict: There were definitely more good dishes than bad, but the bad ones were so out there that the overall experience was affected and points were docked. However the ambiance was fun and it would be a great place to go for drinks and maybe get one or two dishes to go with your drinks. But whatever you do, please don't order the "sushi".

Ron Gastrobar Amsterdam
Address: Sophialaan 55 hs (entrance), terrace on the Amstelveenseweg, Amsterdam
'Phone: +31 (0)20 49 61 943 
Reservations: By phone, email or online

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