Moshik Roth is arguably Israel’s best chef, at least if you count Michelin-stars, of which he holds two. He came to the Netherlands because of his Dutch wife, but remains something of a black sheep in the country. The food Roth cooks does not easily compare with the prevailing trend, and is more “molecular” than that of most of his Dutch peers’.
Roth’s cuisine at Samhoudplaces is less eccentric than it used to be at ‘t Brouwerskolkje, where it felt a little like a culinary wizard was behind the stove. At that time, he worked in close cooperation with Jean-Georges Klein, who then had three Michelin-stars at L’Arnsbourg. After the closure of the Brouwerskolkje, Roth teamed up with entrepreneur Salem Samhoud, and Samhoudplaces was born. Samhoud’s consultancy firm takes an optimistic approach to the world claiming: “together we build a brighter future”. The idea was to set up a string of restaurants that connect people throughout the world.
Instead of delivering a game-changing dining experience, a meal at Samhoudplaces has little that distinguishes it. It feels like it could be anywhere, and has little that makes it stand out. That’s odd for a chef of Roth’s stature, as his food has polarised opinion for years. Some of the meals at Brouwerskolkje were outright spectacular, whilst others felt like they had better not happened in the first place. At his best Roth’s food is that of an open-minded traveller, who takes inspiration from all over the planet and carefully uses integrates it in his own food. At other times, however, the product-quality lets the food down and makes you wonder what justifies the high price of a meal here. Langoustines with Anna Gold Caviar, verbena, salty plants, beetroot, minestrone and gravy of couscous feel uninspired: the caviar is mediocre, and the langoustines lack that inherent sweetness that makes this the most distinct and elegant shellfish. As a result, this is a pleasant, complex, if hardly outstanding dish.
This dish alone summarises an experience at Samhoudplaces: it feels like the brigade is trying hard to serve innovative and interesting food, but somehow doesn’t quite manage to pull it off. The products let it down, and given the steep prices, there is plenty of more exciting food in Amsterdam at this stage.