The Rijksmuseum is one of the world’s most important museums, with a unique collection of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals and other Dutch Masters. After a decade-long renovation, the museum is even more impressive now than it has been in the past.
For those who are also interested in the culinary arts, the museum’s restaurant Rijks offers food for thought. Taking an interesting approach to sourcing, the wine list for instance is entirely made up of wineries with Dutch involvement. As far as products are concerned, the vast majority of what is used by the kitchen is sourced from the Netherlands. The man in charge of putting everything together is chef Joris Bijdenijk, who has previously worked with Ron Blaauw and the Pourcel brothers in Montpellier. Having spent time away from home, his cooking is unlike that of most Dutch chefs. The food at Rijks is clean, intelligent and feels less manipulated than that of a lot of other restaurants in the city.
Our absolute favourite dish here is langoustine with curry cream, trout eggs, linseed and quinoa. The quality of the shellfish is beautiful with that crunchy, sweet meat that only the freshest langoustines have. The intense curry cream is just strong enough to not overpower the flavour of the langoustine, and the trout roe adds another textural element.
At times there is outside influence that can be felt in the cooking here. Most notable is baobab hangop with macadamia, coconut sorbet and salted honey-bush caramel, which has been inspired by Margot Janse’s (The Tasting Room, South Africa) guest chef appearance at Rijks. Food like this makes us wonder where Bijdendijk will ultimately end up: there is so much flavour in each dish, and it feels like each plate bursts with energy. Thankfully, the décor here matches the food in that it is clean, fresh and vibrant. The fact that you can come to have a few bites at the bar, or go for the whole tasting menu makes it a great place for numerous occasions.
The only quibble we have with Rijks is its poor wine list. Ultimately, there aren’t that many great Dutch wineries around the world, which naturally limits the scope of the (fairly expensive) list, and is probably the one thing that really can be improved upon.
With its flexibility, energetic food and cool design, Rijks is a great contemporary museum restaurant. A day spent enjoying the museum’s mind-boggling collection, and having a meal here certainly qualifies for time well-spent.