Restaurant Simple might sound familiar to you. It’s no ‘new kid on the block’ but an established restaurant in Utrecht. Simple is located in the middle of the Museum Quarter, so it’s surrounded by museums. These surroundings fit the restaurant, because the creations that come out of that kitchen are no less than those exhibited in a museum.
There’s been a change of guard at Simple due to the opening of Het Ketelhuis in the old Pastoe factory. The new crew at Simple is taking on the challenge to give their own addition to this already well-running concept, and perhaps bring it to a higher level. With the enthusiastic team, who have lots of experience in the Utrecht service industry, the restaurant is sure to achieve this goal.
Simple’s set-up is minimalistic: no overpowering accessories to distract you. The restaurant has a cosy living room feel. Thanks to the glass dome, the restaurant is filled with natural light that strengthens the soft colours of the interior. The translucent curtains give a hazy look into the kitchen, where the cooks are busy preparing for the evening. The wines and other drinks are in the spotlight on a big table, and the same leather aprons are hanging on the wall as the ones the servers wear. Above the kitchen door, there’s a picture of the dog of the house.
Simple has a new seasonal menu every month, and matching wines are carefully chosen. This creative flow means that there are surprising dishes on the menu, with a couple nods to our little city. If you choose the full package, you get 7 courses, but you can also go for 6, 5, 4 or 3. For a supplement you can also choose a cheese plate or a wine arrangement.
On this rainy Wednesday, we choose the 100% Simple. A full experience menu comprising all the dishes on the menu with matching wines. We begin the evening with a Simple cocktail, that’s pretty simple in terms of ingredients (lemon, radish, limoncello and prosecco) but a flavour bomb. Delicious – we praise the cocktail after every sip!
While we enjoy the Simple cocktail, we’re brought fresh, warm bread with butter and basil-infused olive oil. We early dip the delicious bread into the sumptuous oil, and this doesn’t go unnoticed: the Maître tops everything up. The tone is set and it’s clear to us that delicious dishes will follow.
Restaurant Simple for everything but a simple night out
We begin with a selection of appetizers, each one more delicious than the last: a mini-pappadum with yellow beet and sesame; crispy potato with caviar; oysters with radish, green onion and sesame; Utrecht egg made from Hollandaise with a piece of fried sausage and grated cheese; a tart with cauliflower cream; little potato waffles with cream and mustard seed; and the favourite, tomato meringues with orange compote.
This indulgence makes us want even more, and we’re curious about the following courses. The first course is a beautifully plated gurnard, shrimp, tomato, crunchy coated carrot, and green curry. This dish full of different flavours is followed by a somewhat simple dish to neutralise our palettes. The sole, with hazelnut, Baeri caviar, BBQ mandarine, and salsify. This is less surprising but tastes good.
The third course is a bowl of potato. We’re not sure what to expect and taste the purée carefully. But after the second mouthful of purée, cauliflower, lime and balsamico, it’s clear that this is another flavour bomb. For the fourth course, the chefs went out to pick a few of their own ingredients. The dish, ‘De Utrechtse Wildpluk’, is autumn in a bowl. The colour and flavour of the creamy risotto with chicken egg and Iberico ham is heartwarming. The last dish is butter-soft beef with cabbage, Jerusalem artichoke, and delicious baked oxtail with choron sauce. Another delicious autumnal dish that we enjoy.
Before it’s time for the dessert listed on the menu, we first get a peach and hazelnut sabayon, followed by a little dessert of mangosteen. This new-to-us fruit has an intense taste that we like.
Then it’s time for the grand dessert: a combination of salted caramel ice cream, infused crumble, mangosteen, sugared peanuts, and chocolate covered with coconut cream. Heavenly! And the party doesn’t seem to be over yet, as a little decorative tree trunk (the former chef took his original decorations from unusual places) appears on the table, full of tasty-looking sweets. To go with this, we drink a fresh dessert wine, followed by a cappuccino.
An evening at Simple is pure indulgence and a must for those bon vivants out there. Nice for the holidays, awesome for a birthday, but also a definite recommendation for an evening that’s anything but simple.
Lange Nieuwstraat 88 – 030 400 40 50
Reserve online: http://www.simpleutrecht.nl
3-course menu is only available on Tuesday and Wednesday
Interior pictures: Susanne Sterkenburg
Food pictures: Dainahara Polonia