Very good to Excellent (89-92)
Above average to Good (86-88)
Below Average to Average (80-85)
Avoid (below 80)
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In January 2012 (Israel born) Dutch two-star chef Moshik Roth and entrepreneur Salem Samhoud announced that they would be opening a new restaurant with an up-scale dining concept called '&samhoud places' in the newly developed 'Oosterdokseiland' in Amsterdam later this year. After seven months and a € 700,000 investment &samhoud places has recently opened its doors. The restaurant is located on the Oosterdokskade in Amsterdam, houses a lounge/cocktail bar on the ground flour and a restaurant that seats 50 on the first floor.
Moshik Roth already earned his spurs in the Netherlands with his restaurant 't Brouwerskolkje in Overveen, a restaurant that held 2 Michelin stars until it closed in April 2012. Roth is also known for his close collaboration with three-star chef Jean-Georges Klein of l'Arnsbourg restaurant in France. For years Roth could be found in the kitchens of l'Arnsbourg at least twice a month.
Salem Samhoud is the founder of &samhoud, a Dutch consultancy firm with branches in the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia, a firm that is known for its motto 'Together we built a brighter future' and its distinctive bright blue "ball of connection". Moshik Roth and Salem Samhoud each have a 50% stake in &samhoud places.
The duo have been very candid about there ambitions and &samhoud places in Amsterdam is just the beginning of their gastronomic journey as they call it. They are aiming to open five similar venues in New York City, Kuala Lumpur, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow and Shanghai. &samhoud places in Amsterdam would be the flagship restaurant of the small chain where new dishes and culinary concepts will be conceived so that they can be shared with the world - the so-called Tomeato burger, a vegetarian cheeseburger with tomato replacing the beef, is a first example.
&samhoud places is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday till Saturday (no lunch on Saturday). The restaurant offers an a la carte menu, a 3-course lunch menu (€ 69.50), and a 4 (€ 119.50) or 6 (€ 159.50) course tasting menu. I had dinner at Moshik Roth's &samhoud places with my husband during the soft opening of the restaurant on Tuesday 4 September 2012. Moshik and Els Roth were kind enough to invite us to be their guests but in accordance with my statement of principles I had to decline their generous offer and I paid the bill (we had 6-course tasting menus) in full.
With our aperitifs, which we enjoyed at the bar in the stylish lounge area, we were served some nibbles: sweet sunflower seeds, chopped dried fruits and some green olives.
At the table the first four (out of six) amuses bouches arrived: (i, bottom left) Harissa-filled focaccia with a topping of mackerel Escabeche and Taggiasche olives. Nice crisp focaccia, lovely combination of flavours. (ii, bottom right) Black olive madeleine, raspberry puree, olive oil caviar, Bottarga, Aceto Balsamico, herring caviar. A veritable taste explosion, lovely fresh and intense raspberry flavours and nice bitters from the black olives. The olive oil caviar provided flavour and smoothness. (iii, top left) Papadum Millefeuille, smoked eel, miso, grapefruit, potato. Fantastic crisp papadum and delicious smoked eel, nice freshness from the grapefruit. (iv, top right) Cocktail La Floridita: red vermouth foam, lime sorbet, rum, cacao. Nice fresh and sharp flavours and a boozy foam. Four great amuses bouches with precise flavours.
Next the fifth amuse bouche, The Perfect Egg - Egg cooked at 63° for 1 hour, nutmeg foam, crisp brunoise potatoes, finely chopped chives, ginger. A terrific soft egg that was indeed perfect! Beautiful nutmeg flavours, subtle in the beginning and more intense in the aftertaste. Great flavour and texture from the buttery brunoise potatoes. A sumptuous dish of which I enjoyed every spoonful.
Sixt and last amuse bouche: Oyster two ways: (i) Gillardeau oyster (whole), braised oxtail and bouillon, Foyot sauce. Lovely tender oxtail and a delicious salty oyster. A very elegant take on the classic beef/oyster combination. The Foyot sauce added richness and a touch of acidity. (ii) Oyster tartare, lemon verbena crème, scallop roe powder, blackberry sorbet. Divine pure and fresh oyster flavours and a fantastic blackberry sorbet which provided freshness and warmth at the same time, also a nice touch of warmth from the scallop roe powder. Beautiful, layered flavours. Pure, clean, perfect. Two exceptional oyster dishes, one of which was warm and comforting and the other fresh and pure.
First course of the tasting menu was the so-called 'Corn Collection': 3 dishes made with corn and salmon. First: Corn cornet filled with salmon belly, corn crunch and sour cream. Lovely thin and crisp cornet filled with a delicious filling of salmon belly, sour cream and some corn crunch on top. Loved the touch of soy sauce. A dish with beautiful flavours which had a wonderful length. Second: Corn noodles, crunchy corn, salmon, spring onions, thai chili pepper, coriander. Pasta or noodles made entirely from vegetables, in this case corn, have been among Moshik Roth's signature dishes for years. The noodles had wonderfully light but still distinctive corn flavours. Lovely fresh touch from the spring onion and coriander. Very well-judged use of the chili, the heat only kicked in on the finish. Third: Corn ice cream, salmon and yoghurt foam. Beautiful small piece of salmon (from the back) served with some creamy corn ice cream and lovely light yoghurt foam. Nice flavours, fresh, pure and well-balanced. Great to see corn turned into such playful and elegant dishes which provided a beautiful synergy between the corn and the salmon.
Second course, Olympics 2012: 'gold' medal filled with a foie gras crème served with red currant mousse, rose pearls, almond powder, cashew nut crème and granules. The foie gras crème was wonderfully smooth and the red currant mousse provided a nice counterpoint. A beautifully presented dish but also a dish with robust flavours which in the case of the rose were rather overpowering. This dish didn't really work for me. A dessert version of this dish was served at the Holland Heineken House in London during the Olympics.
Third course, Dover sole, citrus jus, ginger, soy, sea vegetables. Perfectly cooked tender and moist fillet of Dover sole. With the sole came a fantastic airy soy and ginger foam which was nice and rich and a wonderfully smooth and creamy potato mousseline. Marvellous light citrus jus made with zest extract; very elegant, the zest gives a focus on bitters instead of acidity and this worked really well in this dish. Lovely salty, mineral taste from the sea vegetables.
Fourth course, Memories of Piraeus (2 dishes). First a selection of flavoursome and colourful market vegetables: tomatoes, artichoke, baby courgette flower, beetroot, spring onions, carrot and radish. Second dish, Vegetarian Moussaka: aubergine and tomato ragu with bright red tomato 'sheets' on top, drizzled with feta cream. A brilliant dish with an incredible depth of flavour, especially the tomato flavours were absolutely divine. Lovely subtle saltiness from the feta cream. Also a dish that shows an extraordinary level of skill and understanding of flavour. This level of flavour intensity is usually only achieved with meat and a chef who can make vegetables taste like meat has to be a genius.
Fifth course was '50/50' pigeon: 50% of dish is the pigeon (Anjou pigeon, breast and liver) and the remainder is made up of 50 other ingredients such as black olive, home-made ketchup, couscous, saffron pickled onions, red chicory, coriander cress, beetroot, horseradish, grapefruit. Beautifully cooked tender pigeon breast served with a delicious home-made ketchup, finely chopped olives, shredded red chicory and wonderful sweet onions with delicate saffron notes. The coriander cress was absolutely sensational, beautiful concentrated coriander flavours, almost like having a coriander essence. Both the coriander cress as the red chicory added a nice freshness to this rich dish. With the pigeon breast came this perfectly thin and crisp beetroot cylinder filled with a pigeon liver mousse and horseradish, delicious. This was a BRICK ..... HOUSE (yes, that's the song) of a main course with powerful but balanced flavours. Also an unusual combination of flavours but surprisingly the pigeon wasn't overpowered buy any of these flavours and the bitters helped cut through the richness of the dish.
Sixth course, a dessert called 'The Forest': mushroom made from porcini mousse (stem), italian meringue and passion fruit (cap) served with chocolate 'earth', aerated chocolate and chocolate mousse. A very satisfying dessert with fantastic earthy flavours and textures. Special mention for the chocolate mousse which was nice and creamy and had a beautiful silky texture. Excellent presentation too, very elegant.
Madeleines, chocolates and sweets served with our coffees.
Moshik Roth has been known for years as one of the most prominent molecular chefs in the Netherlands. As is evinced by the above, he does still employ molecular techniques but only as a means to an end, only if it enhances the dish. First and foremost however Roth is an accomplished chef who masterfully blends classic with modern. Technically strong, complex and very individual dishes that showcase his creativity, his ability to innovate and his originality. Characterful food with cutting edge flavours and with, as one of its hallmarks, the very precise balance of sweet/salty/sour/bitter flavours that I already noticed when I visited 't Brouwerskolkje. Very impressive too is Roth's exceptional skill of creating dishes entirely made from vegetables and seemingly transform these into other ingredients like the corn noodles and the Moussaka. After dinner I got to taste the 'Tomeato' burger, still a work in progress at the time but very delicious all the same. Maybe we won't have to eat insects in the future after all! The Tomeato burger will only be served in the bar/lounge area.
The dining room is well-appointed and stylish and has an international flair. The first floor location offers a beautiful view of the very centre of Amsterdam from your table. As an entertaining bonus you can watch Moshik Roth and him team at work in the state of the art glass-fronted kitchen. Moshik Roth has clearly taken to his new restaurant like a duck to water and he is just getting started. Great things (will) happen here. Pricing however seems to reflect the multi-starred level of ambition.