The Okura hotel’s two restaurants couldn’t be more different. Yamazato exemplifies restraint and Japanese aesthetic values. Ciel Bleu, the hotel’s French restaurant, however, is about as ostentatious a restaurant as they come in Amsterdam.
The stunning views strike you from the moment you step out of the lift: the entire city lies beneath you, and if the weather is good, you can see even further. It feels almost odd to have such a cosmopolitan restaurant in a small city such as Amsterdam.
Despite chef Onno Kokmeijer’s frequent absence from the restaurant, the kitchen brigade does a terrific job here in trying to lure the diners’ attention away from the view towards their plates. The cuisine is mostly based on the classic luxury ingredients such as foie gras, truffles, caviar, langoustines, etc. One of the dishes that really grabs your attention is a king crab cylinder that comes with beurre blanc ice cream, crispy potatoes, yuzu and a healthy portion of caviar from the chefs own label (not to forget gold leaf to top it all off). The various flavours and textures work beautifully together, and manage to make this collection of luxury products taste like the most natural of comfort foods.
Despite a cascade of consistently good dishes that ensues, and the excellent service that looks after the guests, the atmosphere at Ciel Bleu is a little sterile. One cannot help but feel that the staff here tries almost too hard to do a perfect job, making the whole meal feel a little forced.
Ciel Bleu is perfect if you look for a special to celebrate a special moment. If, however, you travel a bit around the world and know what caviar and truffles taste like, the experience will not be groundbreaking in any way. Yamazato downstairs has a bit more character.