A leisurely meal at Rust en Vrede – and it would be a sin to rush an experience of this quality – is a journey through a world where a classic sensibility is applied to very contemporary dishes; where the provenance of the ingredient is as important as its treatment in the kitchen; where balance reigns supreme.
For example, all John Shuttleworth’s dishes contain elements that are hot, cold, and at room temperature. The menu changes regularly, and every course has three options, each as tempting as the next.
The Mushroom and Forest Floor is exemplary and delicious almost beyond words. Locally foraged pine ring and chicken of the woods mushrooms and a mushroom tea provide umami heaven, and the pièce de résistance is what looks like a freshly picked chestnut mushroom, and is actually a gel covering a shiitake mousse, studded with crème-fraîche drops – almost too gorgeous to eat.
The hazelnut-crusted seabass is perfectly cooked and optimally accompanied by a Jerusalem artichoke purée, black garlic, sliced hazelnuts and the cutest enoki mushrooms – contrast and complement perfectly merged. Equally good is crown-roasted duck breast with boudin blanc, buttered cabbage and white-onion purée. A look around the restaurant tells you that order envy is rampant.
There surely cannot be another wine list in the country that is as extensive and as interesting – all 128 pages of it. It needs its own trolley! Look forward to page after page of Champagne options – no local bubblies served here – and a comprehensive ride through local and international cellars. There are bottles that are eye-wateringly expensive, but also local and foreign examples that are much easier on the budget. There is a very pleasing selection of intriguing wines by the glass. Your best bet is to share a broad preference with sommelier Barry Scholfield and leave the detail to him.
Rust en Vrede is a regular gong collector in service competitions, and it’s easy to understand why. The staff here know and care about the food; they know when to leave diners alone and when to arrive discreetly at the table. They are super-efficient and very attentive, but without losing their own friendly personalities.
You dine in a centuries-old building that has been restored with taste and affection. Family photographs adorn the walls and the environment is warm and welcoming. Linen, tableware and glassware are of the highest quality.
Don’t over-indulge on the breads. Keep some, and the sweet potato and goat’s cheese butters, to mop up a sauce or two.
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