Glass dines at Amsterdam’s The Duchess

IN THE heart of Amsterdam, The Duchess befits its regal title. It is indeed one of the grand dames of the Amsterdam dining scene, but that doesn’t mean there is anything safe about it. In fact, the lively music, excellent staff and contemporary interiors, blended with touches from the Old Bank stock exchange it is housed in, lend a classy yet modern setting for their Michelin-starred Italian small plates menus – an innovative finding in this already gourmet capital.

At first upon being seated, we try a Twinkle, a heady combination of elderflower and champagne, a perfect aperitif for the adventures that lie ahead. On Glass’ trip here, we were served a freshly baked brioche bun the size of our palm with Puglian olive oil, known for its mild bitterness, steeped in a wonderful combination of peppers and Maldon sea salt.

If you fancy other cocktails, there is the Serafin, which is a mixture of Crème de Poire, lime and ginger beer, together with Casamigos Blanco, and the rather amazing Pistachio Sour, made of gin, pistachio liquor and lemon.

The Duchess AmsterdamThe Duchess

For our starter, we had arguably the most famous dish here at The Duchess, the Sea Bass Carpaccio, which came looking like a Mondrian sketch in shades of yellow and green. The slices of sea bass were interspersed in a mixture of chilli foam, tomato and a light olive oil suspension. The flavours were stellar, especially when paired with the house Pouilly-Fumé, in this case the restaurants own house wine, which has a lovely mineral edge to compliment the flintiness of the raw fish. 

After we had tasted the carpaccio, suddenly the ceiling of stained glass seemed so much closer, such was the effect of an ethereally light yet wonderfully flavourful fish on the pallet. One thing that struck us was how calm the open kitchen was, especially having seen many open kitchens in our time, this one stands out as one of the most serene examples of chefs working in harmony.

Speaking of the ethereal elements, the next course was spaghetti with Beluga Caviar, which was simplicity in itself, except this was deceptive. The caviar was infused with a buttery bourbon sauce, and the Beluga’s richness was tempered, coating the tongue with an amazing intensity. Paired with this was the Pouilly Fuisse, which is 100% Chardonnay from the Burgundy Valley. This was a magical pairing with the butteriness, as the Chardonnay grape perfectly complimented the rich intensity of the pasta, which was the perfect size (100g for a second starter).

The Duchess AmsterdamThe Duchess

By the way readers, if you want the best pairing, seek out the chief sommelier, who comes from Rome and designed all wine accompaniments for each dish. With a talent that recognises how flavours can be elevated with a select choice of wine, Ilaria is a master.

Not to in any way undermine the starter dishes, which were exemplary, but the mains were next level, truly befitting a Michelin-star restaurant. There is a baked Sea Bass which is filleted before serving as well as numerous pasta dishes. One standout however was the Beef Wellington, a staple since The Duchess opened in 2015, made from the finest Italian beef. The perfectly cooked tenderloin is blanketed in mushrooms and a light puff pastry, surrounded by Chantelle mushrooms and a heavenly red wine sauce on the side.

The Duchess AmsterdamThe Bar at The Duchess

Another standout was the the gilled asparagus with aged balsamic and parmesan, a deceptively simplistic vegetable side which made for a glorious explosion of flavours, especially when paired with the Pinot Noir from Burgundy (Domain Michelle Calot). This is an interesting pairing, but as the pinot was matured in steel vats rather than the oak vats of the previous chardonnay, also from Burgundy, the freshness and the crispness of the pinot was maintained, while not sacrificing the body (it was a 2015 variety, a period known for its warm summer). All in all, a fantastic pairing yet again made by Illauriah.

After all of the main courses, what followed was nothing but extraordinary. Ice cream was made fresh for us at the table, with lemon curd and a mix of exquisite honeyed fruit on a bed of handmade crumble, topped with every variety of meringue you could think off. The whole making of the dish is probably worthy of another article, suffice to say the whole restaurant wasn’t altered by the spectacular table side performance. The pairing for this was Sauternes from Chàteau Fontebride, again elegant but with just the right amount of sweetness to compliment rather than contradict the desert. 

The desserts, from description alone sounded out of this world, but the hand made ice cream was perhaps the show stopper of them all. What a great way to end an amazing experience at one of the best restaurants in Amsterdam.


The Duchess, Spuistraat 172, 1012 VT Amsterdam, Netherlands

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