Exploring Amsterdam’s Culinary Scene: Kaagman & Kortekaas
4 mins read

Exploring Amsterdam’s Culinary Scene: Kaagman & Kortekaas

Lost flight. Forced night in Amsterdam. I can’t remember the last time I had a normal flight. The upside: we can eat.

The only place that welcomes us on a Wednesday night is Kaagman & Kortekaas. It looks promising from what I read on their website – a place with character and culinary expertise. An open kitchenadorned with beautiful glass jars filled with preserves. I’m running late, and my companions are already impatiently waiting at the table, so the menu kicks off without delay.

First course:

Oysters with succulent herbs and a yuzu vinaigrette.

These flavors are quite classic and familiar. We continue with a rillette accompanied by house-made pickles, endive with caramelized apples and blue cheese. Old friends that always return. As Borges once said, good friendship endures infrequent meetings.

Next up is a dish executed with finesse:

Pumpkin in various textures, tempeh made from beans, pumpkin spice foam, and cream. The tempeh is superbly executed, delicious, with Christmas flavors, and the pumpkin is sliced into a mille-feuille. “These guys really know how to cook,” says John as he finishes the dish.

From there, we move on to sweetbreads with a root vegetable cream that tastes like comfy grandma’s cooking.

For the pigeon, we order a 2020 Mas de Bressades Cuvée Tradition from Costières de Nîmes – a stroll through a dark forest of red fruits, on the hunt for a little bird to be devoured in its aromas.

The bird is a partridge, and undoubtedly the highlight of the dish is a creamy concoction made with French-style organ meats, probably flambéed with cognac, next to the pistachios, Jerusalem artichokes, and tuberous root flavors. Inside the ballotine, there’s a herb mixture and a scallop. 

John found a little pellet inside the bird – look, a lead shot. This bird was definitely hunted for real.

We then moved on to the cheese cart, where we met the man we playfully referred to as “Mr. Cheese” during dinner, a title he humorously embraced due to his surname. The cart was beautifully adorned with a variety of cheeses. “In the Netherlands, we’re restricted to using pasteurized milk for cheese-making, so here we offer a mix of Belgian and Dutch cheeses,” explained the cheese sommelier, guiding us through the fragrant selection of stinky dairy delights.

He has the best job in the restaurant, like a cheese and pairing sommelier. Of course, we didn’t know he was not only the head of the dining room but also the one who gave the restaurant its name.

He served us a beer with honey to accompany his cheese and a generous wine that, with its combination of sweetness and potent liquor, reminded us of something between white port and sherry.

The cheeses – oh, the cheeses. A journey through creaminess, delicious stinkiness, blue tones, spiciness, little camembert wonders.

We moved to the bar, perhaps the best spot in the restaurant.

The kitchen has two hotlines. I love the infrastructure of this restaurant, the functionality with which it was designed. The pass is right in front of the bar. In turn, these two passes serve as the connecting point of a large H between the two wings of the dining room. From here, Mr. Cheese can oversee both parts of the room. As if that weren’t enough, in the back, there’s a support kitchen for production, creating two distinct working environments for the chefs. Moreover, the pass has a dual decorative function, showcasing homemade preserves – in this case, Maghreb-style preserved lemons – and also holding the tableware and notes for the pass, both for waitstaff and chefs. The pass itself is a large stone piece that emits steam when wiped, so it’s warm from below, serving as a plate warmer. 

An unplanned night in Amsterdam led us to the delightful doors of Kaagman & Kortekaas. Here, Chef Kaagman’s approach to cooking shone through in his use of naturally sourced ingredients, creating dishes that were both innovative and deeply connected to nature. The dining experience was enhanced by the restaurant’s commitment to heartfelt hospitality and an artful fine dining atmosphere. This combination beautifully captured the spirit of Kaagman & Kortekaas, making our meal a memorable encounter with wild, sensory culinary pleasures.