[Zwolle] De Librije - 3* Innovative Gastronomy in Netherlands

Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

Our next stop after Copenhagen in Europe was Amsterdam where we stayed in a super posh houseboat for the first time! We spent a few days exploring the city and had some of the best apple pies and Dutch pancakes ever before taking a day trip out to Zwolle to dine at the 3 Michelin star and #38 on World's 50 Best Restaurant De Librije for lunch. The train ride from Amsterdam to Zwolle took a little over an hour and we walked through some beautiful scenery in the city center before arriving at the restaurant inside the Librije Hotel. Located in a monumental former women's prison from the 18th century, De Librije is run by husband and wife team Jonnie and Thérèse Boer and serves modern innovative dishes based on authentic regional ingredients and cutting-edge cooking techniques. 

A tasting menu of 5, 6 and 7 courses are available for €175.5, €185 and €192.5 respectively but the way you order here is a little different from just a set tasting menu in that you get to select the ingredients for 4 dishes and the chef will supplement the rest to make the meal a little more exciting and surprising. You can also order a la carte from 8 classic dishes selected from the past 17 years and a vegetarian menu as well. The meal turned out to be amazing with uniquely flavored dishes and it's not to be missed by anyone visiting Netherlands!
librije hotel

We passed through the stylish lounge and were asked if we wanted to grab a drink first but since we were famished, we headed straight into the dining room which is situated in the inner courtyard with a beautiful glass roof.
de librije lounge

I loved the huge amount of natural light and trees surrounding us in the main dining room which made me feel like I was dining in a garden.
De Librije dining room

The unique drinking glass and ceramic bread plate at De Librije. 
De Librije

The chef collaborated with knife manufacturer Ryusen Hamono in Japan to create the ultimate steak knife for De Librije. 
De Librije ryusen hamono

Our meal got off to an intriguing start tomato ring when we were presented with a ring to wear with a tomato on it! The presentation of the dishes here were very hands-on as many of the dishes were put together with tweezers at the table and one was even assembled on our hands (more on that later). 
De Librije tomato ring

Crispy puff with Holland shrimp
De Librije crispy puff holland shrimp

Spiced peanut crisp
De Librije spiced peanut crisp

Cuttlefish with seaweed crisp
De Librije cuttledish seaweed

Cheek of cod fish with sesame sauce
De Librije cod dish sesame

"May I have your hand please?" The next dish of steak tartare and oyster was assembled right on our hands! It started with a drop of oyster cream, topped with a leaf of lettuce with "Roodbont IJssel beef" tartare, followed by chive mayonnaise and a Pommes souffle, and finished with a slice of oyster and some Ankums blauw (oyster leaves). You can watch how it was assembled here!
De Librije steal tartare oyster

The last of our amuse bouche was brioche with bacon.
De Librije brioche bacon

Amazingly soft butter to go with the delicious grain bread that is made locally.
De Librije butter

De Librije grain bread

My first course was "Gagel" with brown crab and foie gras. The crab was smoked in a wooden box at our table so we were enticed by the smokiness beforehand. 
"Gagel" with brown crab and foie gras de librije

"Gagel" with brown crab and foie gras de librije

Oyster with spruce and tulip
Oyster with spruce and tulip de librije

The langoustine with kombucha and "Boemboe" turned out to be one of my favorite dishes of the meal! Served with green bean juice, the langoustine had been marinated in the kombucha for 4 hours and seasoned with Indonesian spices.
langoustine with kombucha and "Boemboe" de librije

Scallop with young sunflower, coconut, sherry and mushroom 
Scallop with young sunflower, coconut, sherry and mushroom de librije

Monkfish with fermented peppers and eggplant
Monkfish with fermented peppers and eggplant de librije

River trout with eel, fennel and lemon grass
River trout with eel, fennel and lemon grass de librije

Kamper lamb with ceps and seaweed
Kamper lamb with ceps and seaweed de librije

Roe deer with cabbage and "royal sauce Mangalica"
Roe deer with cabbage and "royal sauce Mangalica" de librije

The first of our desserts was a toasted white chocolate with pistachio and blue cheese.
toasted white chocolate with pistachio and blue cheese de librije

I wasn't so sure that the foie gras with dried apple and celeriac worked for me as a dessert though.
foie gras with dried apple and celeriac de librije

The "Gin & Jonnie" dessert was made with a gin that the chef created by himself. 
"Gin & Jonnie" de librije

"Gin & Jonnie" de librije

The coffee ice cream with cardamom arrived in a cute sack while kept cool on ice pack. 
 coffee ice cream with cardamom de librije

"Flavors In and Around the Forest": wild mushrooms with dark chocolate, spruce top caramel with salt, elderflower with white chocolate, and juniper with lemon. We were really impressed with the chocolates as the flavors of nature were infused with the chocolate perfectly!
"Flavors In and Around the Forest" chocolate de librije

Our last dish was small avacado with fennel and pistachio.
small avacado with fennel and pistachio de librije

I came away very impressed with the food here which was very refined and creative in both the presentation and flavors. The chef used Asian spices in a number of his dishes and he made it work seamlessly with the ingredients he selected. The only thing that I felt was off was the service as it took a long time before anyone came to take our order at the beginning of the meal. They were not short-staffed though as they had a lot of staff walking around but for some reason we were ignored for quite some time - long enough that we started to feel confused and uncomfortable. Otherwise, the meal was very enjoyable and De Librije is a restaurant that I would not hesitate to return to again!

De Librije
Spinhuisplein 1 
8011 ZZ Zwolle, Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0) 38 421 2083

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