Almost a month ago I went to Amsterdam with my daughter for a long weekend. And whilst she was keen to sample the cocktails at the Hilton’s roof top Sky Lounge, I had always wanted to visit the De Kas restaurant, after reading about it years ago in an article by Sarah Raven.
The restaurant was opened in 2001 by chef Gert Jan Hageman and is situated in an old greenhouse in Frankendael Park, a tram ride from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. The 8m tall greenhouse, dating from 1926, had belonged to Amsterdam’s Municipal Nursery and was due to be demolished when Hageman decided to ‘repurpose’ it. He bought the building for one guilder, and set about converting it into a restaurant, surrounded by gardens in which to grow the food.
Hagerman is quoted on the website:
“A kitchen surrounded by fertile soil where vegetables and herbs thrive … Where daylight shines in from all sides and where the chefs are free to express their creativity daily using the best the season has to offer.
It seems an obvious concept, but I spent twenty years surrounded by white tiles under fluorescent lighting before I came up with it.”
Many restaurants are now much more conscious of the provenance of their food, not just the food miles, but De Kas must have been one of the first, and it’s heartening to see its continued success.
As well as the surrounding garden area,
there was a large area of the greenhouse still used for growing, with a huge number of different tomatoes, salads and micro greens, edible flowers and the magnificent melons at the top.
Whilst we were wandering round the greenhouse admiring the immaculate crops, we were joined by a chef in her whites garnering salads and herbs for the restaurant.
Once inside the restaurant itself, the welcome was incredibly warm and my daughter’s gluten free status was acknowledged without drama (as was the woman on the next table who was gluten free, dairy free and soya free – apparently not an issue at De Kas!)
All the food was relatively simple but so fresh and tasty. My favourite, below, the starter of cold tomato soup.
So, thank you De Kas, just how I think a restaurant should be – passionate about cooking AND ingredients.