We hit up restaurant Seinpost in Scheveningen recently. We met up with our friends and fellow foodies S and P for a dinner by the sea. Seinpost, helmed by Gert-Jan Cieremans, is a restaurant specialized in cuisine de la mer and was awarded its first Michelin star nearly 25 years ago. The restaurant is a 3-minute walk away from the sea, which makes a walk on the beach after dinner almost inevitable.
One of the things I am always interested in seeing, is the bread served before dinner. Serving bread is a typical Dutch thing I reckon. And it’s usually served with butter or olive oil (and salt and pepper. There was a choice of ‘white’ and ‘sour dough’. The butter served was butter made from farm fresh milk. We loved the butter so much we asked for a second plate. The bread was alright, but too firm for my taste. I would have loved a softer exterior. This had too much of a bite.
We started off with a pumpkin cream with an airy mousse of mackerel. I am always amazed when I find a fish appetizer downsized into a mousse that leaves no traces of fish whatsoever. And what was even better, the mousse was the whitest mousse ever! If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought it was whipped cream. The pumpkin cream complemented the dullet of mackerel mousse perfectly and it was a great appetizer to start the night with. This was empty in seconds and if etiquette would have allowed, I would have licked my plate clean. The appetizer was paired with a (less exciting) cava.
We continued dinner with what looked like a ceviche, but could probably best be described as a luke-warm salad of cod fish, topped with Dutch Olivier salad, pan-seared bacon, in a pool of jellied stock with parsley and finished off with rabe. Though I loved the contrasted bacon, I wasn’t particularly a fan of this dish. Cod can be highlighted in many ways. Paired with everything in the dish, I felt it almost got snowed in by all the other ingredients. The course was paired with a 2012 Picpoul de Pinet, a dry white wine with a light fruity roundness. The softness of the wine paired greatly with the lightness of the dish.
The next course served was a pan-seared Dutch “Pieterman” (weever fish) with mushrooms, salsify à la crème, chives and mustard leaves. This was a great dish. The Pieterman was cooked to perfection; the pairing with salsify and mushrooms made this a great dish for October. I didn’t quite taste the chives, but the mustard leaves (I always love my mustard leaves) were a great addition to the dish. The wine was a 2012 Grand Chardonnay.
Next was a quail dish. The quail was served with squid, Frankenthaler grapes, oliva taggiasca (olives from Italian district Taggia), anchovies, cherry pepper (pimento) and an aubergine puree. I have yet to taste the perfect quail dish. This wasn’t that for me obviously. Though I liked the ingredients separately, it didn’t come together as a whole. The squid had a smoky taste which I liked. The cherry peppers were delicious, as were the grapes and olive bits. And thinking about it now, I do think an aubergine puree is what could bring all these ingredients together. But it didn’t. It was presented beautifully. But there was no harmony in the dish. The course was paired with a 2011 Caprices Rouges.
The cheese course is always one I look forward to. I regret not having written down the cheese. The platter was a selection of Dutch cheese. It was a variation of young and old cheese and one spectacular ‘breed’ of goat and blue cheese. The fruit pairings were perfect. I could have had another go of this course without a doubt.
The last course was the desert. We were presented an almond cookie topped with marinated berries, an airy blanc manger, lemon curd, bits of roasted almonds and a panforte. This was nothing special. I loved the blanc manger. The chefs at Seinpost seem to be doing ‘airy’ and ‘fluffy’ really well. I loved the berries as well; big and fresh. The rest was alright. Nothing too exciting. The desert was paired with a sweet La Fleur d’Or wine.
All in all, the dishes served made for a splendid evening. We’re always looking for restaurants with a chef who has the ability to surprise. So far there have only been few to have done that for us (i.e. Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, Stefan van Sprang’s Aan de Poel and David Chang’s Momofuku Ko).
What did I like?
I commend the chef for using Dutch ingredients and transforming them into high level dishes. The ‘Dutch pride’ was certainly felt and that is something I can definitely admire in a chef. The weever dish was a winner for me, as was the appetizer with the pumpkin cream and mousse of mackerel. Even though I love seafood, I know it’s a hard task for a chef to present dishes that could hold their own when you know customers are quickly won over with ‘meat’ dishes. So in that respect, I think the chef did a great job presenting the dishes as they were.
What didn’t I like?
In a world where there are already so many Michelin star restaurants, it’s almost hard to keep up with what dishes are served where. But if a dish is that good, you know that you’ll remember. For me, that particular feeling was only found in the appetizer. It was the only dish that had a ‘wow’ effect. Coming in second, was the weever dish. It wasn’t that memorable, but I liked the dish. It was decent and good. But the other dishes fell flat, which was a shame because I was hoping to see more from the chef. The dishes also lacked a little creativity. Most dishes presented were dishes we had seen done before, either similarly or in a similar way. Another point I did feel was a miss, was the fact that, at no time during the dinner were we asked if the dishes were satisfactory. I don’t like it when waiters ask you only out of necessity. But not asking at all, also didn’t seem right to me.
Will I go back?
Not any time soon. But I would love to see the chef at Seinpost surprise me one time. Because I do want to root for one of the few ‘fish’ restaurants in the Netherlands!