Ciel Bleu Restaurant, Amsterdam

February 25, 2014

Ciel Bleu Restaurant is on the top, 23rd, floor of the Okura Hotel with a view toward central Amsterdam.  The cuisine is vaguely French and  “international;” it rates two stars in the Michelin Guide. After a hard day of museum going, Linda and I looked forward to taking the elevator up to Ciel Bleu Restaurant for dinner on January 14, 2014.

We were seated at a table next to the window looking out. The Champagne cart was wheeled over and we ordered glasses of Louis Roederer brut.
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We were served a little pop-in your-mouth bon bon with blood orange, lychee and carrot.

We ordered the Saveurs de saison menu, six courses for me, four for Linda.
From the extensive international wine list we chose a bottle of 2007 Louis Latour Aloxe-Corton 1er cru, which was excellent.
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Bread was served with a choice of Italian or Spanish olive oils, butter and exotic salts.
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Tom Yam is a traditional Thai sweet and sour shrimp soup. This dry version was our amuse-gueule. We were instructed to roll the shrimp etc inside the edible rice paper and eat it like a taco.
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Very good.

My first menu course was
Concombre | Sureau | Algue
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Two oysters were garnished with several variations on cucumbers and seaweed. The white balls were flavored with elderflower. This was a nice combination, but oysters are not improved by so much garnish.

King crab…
Beurre blanc glacé | Citron confit | Caviar Baerii
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Flaked king crab meat had been mixed with iced beurre blanc and bits of preserved lemon. The faux nori wrapper was made of squid-ink-colored thin pastry. On top was a dab of Chinese caviar and gold leaf. This was small, but very rich and good.

Pernod | Orange sanguine | Carotte
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Barely cooked scallops were accompanied by blood orange and carrot pieces. They were dressed with a Pernod and squid ink sauce. As with the oysters, the combination was a good one, but the garnish was excessive for the scallops.

Truffe noire | Pomme de terre | Épinard
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A bed of potato purée had been ringed with a truffle foam. Spinach was laid on top of it and then a chunk of good turbot. This was topped with black truffle slices, a spinach leaf and a potato puff. The dish was excellent, with the truffle flavor coming through nicely, enhancing the fish and vegetables.

Chevreuil ‘croûte de sel’
Céleri-rave | Foie gras | Ras el hanout
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We were presented with a large bloc of hot salt. When hammered open, it revealed a filet of venison. This was returned to the kitchen and returned as half venison filets accompanied by a venison chops. The garnishes included celery root flavored with North African spices and foie gras. This was a rich and flavorful dish.

The pre-dessert was panna cotta with pine buds, topped with cocoa bits and molded chocolate ice cream with cherries inside. This was good, but not the normal palate cleansing type of pre-dessert.
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For the dessert a white dome was presented. When broken into, it revealed
Poire | Espresso | Caramel
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Caramel balls and pieces of pear had been dressed with a chocolate/espresso sauce. A good combination.

During our meal we had watched the big migardise cart being wheeled up to the tables of those who finished before we did. It was then unfolded to reveal two levels of little pastries. One could pick and choose if one was still hungry.
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On the left of the bottom tray were little babas topped with syringes filed with good rum that could be injected into the babas. We really liked these.

We enjoyed the cuisine. It was typical of top floor restaurants in upscale business hotels around the world in trying too hard to impress with overworked preparations and so would not be a two-Michelin-star restaurant in France, but might be in many countries. Unfortunately, the meal was somewhat spoiled for us by the unacceptably slow pace that increased as the meal went on. The dining room was not even half full, but there were  private parties, including one for eight at the Chef’s Table in the kitchen. The combination must have been too much for the chef and kitchen staff to handle smoothly.  Our genial servers were helpless to improve the situation.

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