De Silveren Spiegel – Amsterdam – Netherlands

As there are many choices, sometimes you’ve just got to take the easy way to easily finalise your dinner plans; look into the mirror and ask, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is fairest of them all?” de Silveren Spiegel (translated in English to The Silver Mirror) is the winner.   


Michelin worthy de Silveren Spiegel offers contemporary Dutch cuisine prepared by talented young chef Yves van der Hoff, whose father, Jim van der Hoff owns the place. (That’s Chef Yves in the photo above). We set off for our first Dutch Dinner in Amsterdam.


Our little hotel is pretty much in the redlight district so our walk to dinner is …well…..interesting!  The small lanes are fascinating as are the various window displays.


Amsterdam Red Light District
Ladies of the night - Red Light District, Amsterdam


The canals are so pretty and we cross several as we take our long leisurely stroll to dinner.  Demrak Canal in the central area is wide and the tall colourful buildings are beautiful.  I love how they are all a little crooked and then their colourful reflection, in the canal water, is distorted to be even more wobbly. After taking several photos we continue on, me daydreaming about making a little Ipad painting later.


Demrak Canal - Amsterdam


Finally we arrive at our destination, de Silveren Spiegel.  We are in a quiet pretty leafy road and across the way is a gorgeous little building that is so old it is bowed in the middle and leans casually to the left like an icecream cone that has started to melt in the heat. The facade is dappled with soft shadows from big leafy trees and the side walk out the front has several pretty little tables sitting under big market umbrellas. This looks very promising.


We are seated at one of the little outside tables and order a little glass of bubbles to start while we ponder the menu. Francisca our bubbly and wonderful hostess, explains the tasting menu options which sound fascinating and we decide on the 5 course option. We ask about wine and Francisca arranges for Harry to come and talk to us about options. She explains that it is her husband Jim who plans the wine cellar and knows the most about the wine. We realise now that this is a family restaurant. We chat a little more her and soon discover that the head chef is her very young son. How wonderful, a whole family affair.


Harry a sharply dressed guy with a big smile is full of energy and enthusiasm as he talks about our wine options. We often enjoy a wine pairing experience but we decide to keep it simple tonight and select a nice Grand Cru Chablis from Bourgogne. Harry is pleased at my love’s choice. It is apparently perfect for the Menu.


I feel so relaxed sitting in this gorgeously calm environment. I love all the lovely well considered touches. Big vases of glorious red gladioli, the table laid with pretty blue and white plates and Riedel glasses. I’m quite excited to try traditional Dutch food and here feels like a place that is genuinely celebrating being Dutch.


Restaurant de Silveren Spiegel Oxen Sausage
Oxen Sausage, Jewish pickles, smoked oil, Vennecress, Yellow Onion


Our first course arrives and wow! Far from being a quaint, family, homestyle cooked meal we are blown away to see a Michelin star quality fine dining dish in front of us. Amsterdam’s Oxen Sausage is very pretty dish, plated on a beautifully textured black plate the surface of which looks like caviar pressed into the glaze. A golden cylinder is snuggled into delicately scattered nasturtium leaves and petals. It is so visually appealing to me – I was expecting sausage and here I have a light, airy, feminine dish. Ok so it looks amazing – how is it going to taste? This is a very young lad in the kitchen.  Incredible! The crispy crunch of the tube gives way to tender pink very flavoursome meat. The peppery nasturtium and Amsterdam pickle a perfectly balanced accompaniment.


Now I am really excited – I have realised that tonight is going to be far more special than I had imagined.


Restaurant de Silveren Spiegel, Amsterdam
Roasted North Sea Scallops cauliflower, braised beef, almond and Champagne sauce


Next Scallops Saint Jacques, this time a pretty black bowl provides a stunning background for the delicately cooked scallops. Fascinatingly the chef has included a small portion of slow cooked, melt in the mouth beef on the plate and dressed with a light airy elderflower and champagne sauce. Intellectually I’m a bit confused by this dish with vasty different cooking techniques for each of the elements. But weirdly when a little of the slow cooked beef and the quickly treated fresh delicate scallop goes into my mouth, it is a marriage made in heaven.


So the sleepy relaxed thing has now passed and I am tuned in! Eyes wide with wonder, all my senses are now geared up with the excitement of what is coming next.


Zeeuwse Mussels steamed with cantharel, cornmeal, fennel and sauce of anise


Out of the blackness and into the light, the next dish is bright and enticing in a wide brimmed deep white bowl. Mussels with fennel, celery, polenta. The sauce light, creamy and foamy is fresh and light in mouth feel but deeply warm in its aniseed flavour. Again an incredibly clever clever flavour combination. Individual elements gorgeous, the whole of the plate exquisite.


It is time for a little glass of red in anticipation of our next dish – Dutch beef loin. We are back to the black plate,which I have to say i just love. As a painter I love, love, love working out of a black canvas. It is a less is more philosophy that leaves space for the imagination of the viewer to influence their interpretation of the work in a way that makes it theirs.



Restaurant de Silveren Spiegel - Dutch Beef
Dutch Beef Lion

A very generous portion of beef loin is sliced and presented on a wide dark plate. A perfectly smooth and rich potato fondant accompanies the beef with delicate elements of bell pepper and chanterelle mushroom. A rich shiny veal jeau glazes the dish sparingly. Just enough to beautifully balance the dish. The texture of this dish is exquisite, each bite simply dissolves in my mouth leaving a rich velvet memory, like savory chocolate.


We take a moment to breathe trying to catch up with the whirlwind of surprize we have just experienced.  Our dessert course is next and Harry is pleased to find us a little something to wash it down!


Oh such a pretty plate, a powder blue glossy ceramic canvas provides the perfect backdrop for our lemon tartlet. A gorgeous little lemon tart is nestled on a crumbled crunchy base along with a chocolate mousse, raspberries and a perfect quenelle of yogurt icecream. The delightful and clever details of crisp meringue sprinkled with raspberry dust and a perfectly clear and delicately bubbled toffee crisp finish a very special dish.


Restaurant de Silveren Spiegel - Dessert
Lemon Tartlet


Throughout our meal we have thoroughly enjoyed chatting with both Harry and Francisca. Their energy is contagious, such enthusiasm and pride in their establishment and what they are doing here. Francisca is a very proud mum, she tells us about her son Yves. He is only 22 years old and his team is also very young.  I am so amazed that such a young man has been able to create such elegant, complex and deeply creative dishes. Francisca grabs my hand, please come and meet him. She takes me through the restaurant down to the pass, Yves appears and shakes my hand smiling the same highly energised smile as his mum. I can see the other kids in the kitchen and again I am speechless.  I feel real joy here, and as a mum, the love of this mother for her child is palpable.


Finally we tear ourselves away to take a beautiful evening walk home. Well to our hotel, but for me home these days is very much wherever my love and I happen to have parked our suitcases. It is for me a feeling of freedom of being completely settled and centred no matter where I am, where we are together.


I learnt in Paris that walking is one of the best ways to understand and feel a place. Second only to eating. To sit at someone’s table and be introduced to their cuisine is simply the best way to feel their essence and the soul of the place you are in..  Today we walked through the center of Amsterdam and then had the privilege of sitting in the van der Hoff home where their young lad blew our minds.


A spectacular introduction to Amsterdam, the walk home is so beautiful, stars above reflecting on the pretty canals as we cross them on our way back to our hotel.  I feel as high as a kite and I haven’t even stopped in at a “coffee” shop!