As my mum’s birthday present my dad said that we could have dinner at the Two-Michelin Star restaurant Parkheuvel. Parkheuvel is run by Chef Erik van Loo, who took over the establishment in 2006. The food is French with a modern presentation and tastes as good as it looks. It actually wasn’t the plan for us to go have dinner here, as initially we had signed for an asparagus cooking workshop with Chef van Loo, sadly enough, due to lack of participants this was canceled. So as somewhat of a compensation of missing out on that we thought we’d just go test out their food instead. Before I start my review of the food I’d like to specially thank Ms. Evita Wouters – Marketing & Sales Manager at Parkheuvel – for her help in organising this lovely dinner and trying to push through with the workshop.
Now to the food, my mum and I were to enjoy the lovely 8-course degustation menu this evening and having done some research beforehand I’d asked if two of the chef’s signature dishes could be included in this. As usual I asked for no meat, although I did make an exception for the one signature dish as it included chicken. Also I’d asked for no chocolate in the dessert – as usual. All these requests were no problem and then it was on to the food. We started of the evening with some lovely amuses/snacks. Sadly enough I can’t recall exactly what each was. I remember that we had this Cheese Cracker, the little ball was fried and filled with Orange, the cone was a Black and White Sesame Kletskop filled with Crab, and there was something with Curry Mayonnaise. It was a good start and look at how exquisite they look. The presentation is amazing, I was thoroughly impressed.
After the little snacks we were served the actual amuse. It was a very fresh preparation of the famed Dutch Queen Asparagus. The little ball was filled with an Asparagus gel that just oozed out as you cut into it. It was great.
Now onto our 8-courses. The first course Scallops – Hand-dived Scallops Black & White, Creme Fraiche, Perle Imperiale Caviar and other black and white. This dish was slightly sour as it was a Scallop Ceviche. The Scallops were raw and wonderfully fresh. The creaminess of the Creme Fraiche paired well with the tangy raw Scallops and the saltiness of the Caviar added a nice touch.
The second course was North Sea Crab – Sweet and Sour marinated Organic Dutch Superior Queen Asparagus served with North Sea Crab, Buckwheat Blini’s and Perle Imperiale Caviar. Another dish with Caviar, we were getting a lot of Caviar. The Crab was wrapped in the thinly shaved Asparagus like a little package. I was amazed at how thin they were able to get the Asparagus as well as how they managed to wrap it up so neatly. This dish was really nice, although it might have been able to do with a sauce. I tried to scrape the green puree and use it as a sauce – think it was just there for presentation though.
The third course was Lobster – Lukewarm ‘Oosterschelde’ Lobster with Young Lettuce, Emulsion of Creme Fraiche, Passionfruit and Red Grapefruit. The Lobster was perfectly cooked and the Emulsion of Creme Fraiche was really good. They were so kind to leave the sauce on the table and my mum and I used this to our advantage, finishing all the sauce. Personally, I found the grapefruit a bit bitter and somewhat overpowering, however the other elements of the dish were great. Maybe using a different fruit would have been more appropriate. There was also some Pomelo, which I found matched better. I probably would’ve preferred only Pomelo and no Grapefruit.
Next was our first Signature dish of the night. It’s the Asparagus Special – Organic Superior Queen Asparagus ‘Special’ with Scallops, fluffy Hollandaise and a reduced Coulis of Oosterschelde Lobster. This was one of the best dishes of the night. I had read about this dish online and people mentioned how they waited an entire year to be able to have this dish again, as it’s only on the menu during the Asparagus season. Lucky us, I’d say. This dish is the chef’s take on a local Dutch snackbar dish called ‘Frikandel Speciaal’. If my local snackbar would be selling this, I think I’d be heading there every day to get one of these beauties. I was so glad that I’d asked for this and am getting hungry thinking about it.
After the wonderful Asparagus, we were served the chef’s second signature dish. Bresse Chicken / Langoustine – Black Bresse Chicken Raviolo with panfried Langoustines on a bed of Mushrooms. There was another amazing sauce to accompany this. But I’d like to focus on the Raviolo, which was hands-down the BEST Raviolo I’ve ever eaten. The pasta dough was so thin and smooth and the filling was amazing. Every single component on this dish worked. I think I understand now why this dish has been the chef’s signature for the past 22 years! It’s amazing! I’d recommend everyone to try this if they get the chance, I honestly think that this is the dish to have when you go to Parkheuvel.
Before our main course we were served another fish dish. Turbot – North Sea Turbot poached ‘a blanc’ with Morels, a Morel Cream Sauce and some vegetables. I belief there was a puree beneath the fish as well as some Peas and Sea Lavander. Not a hundred percent sure though. This was another wonderful dish. The fish was wonderfully fresh and flaky and the accompanying sauce was great. They really must have an amazing Saucier.
Our main was John Dory – John Dory spiked with Laurel Leaf, Braised in the oven with a Fennel-Octopus Ratatouille and a Laurel Liquorice Gravy. Another great dish. I loved the nice contrasting texture between the Octopus and the Fish and the Ratatouille was very tasty. I did hold back with the sauce this time, as I found it quite strong. My mum, unaware how strong it was and expecting it to be like the previous sauces, added additional sauce and thus she found the dish a bit too salty. Such a shame. I really enjoyed this dish, but the sauce did set me back a little.
Before we were served dessert we were served the freshly baked Madeleines. The server came to our table with a basket in which they were lying freshly baked. There were three in his basket and initially he gave us one each, but having read a previous comment online I knew that these were baked fresh for each table, so I coyly asked if we could have the last one too. I wasn’t going to let that warm fluffy pillow escape that fast. The Madeleines were wonderful and I was glad that I was able to have two instead of one.
Time for dessert. Not wanting any chocolate as usual I’d requested for the Strawberry dessert having seen it on their menu and it being the season of these little ‘zomerkoninkjes’ aka ‘summer kings.’ On a side note, Holland has some of the best strawberries, make sure to get the small ones though! They have the most taste. So here it is, Strawberry – various preparations of Strawberry, marinated Tartare, Mousse, Strawberry Crisps and an Ice Cream of Vietnamese Long Pepper. The little dome that you see on top of the Mousse, is a Truffle filled with Strawberry Coulis. It was amazing. The Ice Cream is on a slice of White Chocolate with some crunchy Biscuit Crumble. This dessert just worked for me. I don’t know how else to put it. I was also pleasantly surprised by the taste of the Ice Cream, because I wasn’t to sure what to expect. Sometimes these fancy Ice Creams just don’t work, especially ones made on the basis of herbs, spices and other usually savoury components. Luckily this was just delicious and I enjoyed it to its fullest.
As we were waiting for my standard coffee order, my mum and I took some photos in order to commemorate our lovely dinner here. Doesn’t she look wonderful, the ‘Lady in Red.’
As you can see in the last picture the coffee had arrived together with the accompanying Friandises, which I always look out for. I think the Friandises are a good indication of the quality of a restaurant. It is after all the chef’s last mark on a meal and I always look forward to seeing what they have to offer. In this case a Turkish Delight, a Banana/Advocaat Merengue Tart, Nougat, a ‘Bokkepoot’ and a another sweet that I can’t really remember what it was. I believe it was some sort of fudge crusted in Hazelnuts, but neither my mum nor I could really pinpoint it. After finishing the Friandises we were also served some of the restaurants famous Valhrona Chocolate. These Truffles were amazing. I had Passionfruit, Coffee, Walnut Honey, Praline and Mandarin Napoleon. They were all great and I wish I could’ve taken a box of them home with me. My sweet tooth once again overpowered my resistance and I had asked if I could have seconds of the Tart, Nougat and Bokkepoot. They were just too good, and I knew that this would be my only chance. Luckily the staff at Parkheuvel are very friendly and they were so generous to give me some more.
Sadly enough this marked the end of our amazing dinner. I’m really grateful that my mum was so sweet to share her birthday present with me and take me along for this wonderful experience. Another big thank you to everyone at Parkheuvel for making this such a great night for both my mum and I and we really enjoyed ourselves. I think it’s self-explanatory why they have two Michelin stars and I wish them luck in striving for their Third – they’re closing during the summer for renovations in order to be able to qualify for this. Hopefully I will get to chance savour their food again some time, but for now I’d definitely recommend this.
Address: Heuvellaan 21, 3016GL Rotterdam, The Netherlands