Another visit at Oud Sluis – even with the danger to bore you a little with my love for Oud Sluis, our menu this year was mind-blowing again and needs to be shared. The overall level was more consistent along the different courses. There are not many restaurants in the world were you encounter outstanding and perfect dishes that often.
The very good news is that Sergio is still constantly working in the kitchen in his search of the ultimate flavor combination and not opening other restaurants or being seen on TV every day. Only his former house has been renovated to give the hungry some shelter in the new guesthouse Chico Y Luna – unfortunately we got to know this too late and had already decided to stay near the beach…
As the weather was brilliant we opted for having our Champagne on the terrace. We started with some nice appetizers. First crap crackers with an aioli dip in which the garlic did not dominate topped with some puffy rice which gave the combination another textural twist as normally encountered (and thus made it interesting)…
Then, tomato and langoustine tartar served in new round bowls – fresh and intense tomato, superb langoustine. Very good.
One of the numerous highlights: razor clam soup, creme of peas and yogurt – amazing and just yummy! Excellent.
Being teasered so much to get the real amuse which we had already seen on other tables we got a break which lasted too long in my opinion. We ordered water, I ordered a glass of white wine but nothing happened for a mere twenty minutes. Maybe they had to do something again in the kitchen as others who had started around the some time got their amuse quickly after the razor clam and were then escorted inside. As I again ordered two foie preparations up front they could also have needed some time… I forgot to ask later as this slightly negative experience (as waiting for Santa as child and not let in) was completely overcompensated by the dishes to come…
And then, the four fold amuse consisting of (from left to right) cucumber foam, mussels and thinly sliced cucumbers; sushi of tuna topped by a soy meringue; herring from Holland with yuzu as well as quinoa and crab. Fresh, sour, textures – a very good preparation with a distinct mini dramaturgy, yet not as mind-blowing as last year.
Finally, we went inside and I was very much ready to get my foie preparations. The first was three macaroons filled with foie, but this time not with strong PX vinegar but with some farina which made it sweeter and more subtle. Excellent, but I slightly prefer the more intense PX version.
The second preparation was a emulsion of foie with green apple sorbet and solid cacao dust. Little, but amazing: the emulsion was rich exactly in the right sense, creamy and with very intense foie flavor. The apple sorbet brought a slightly sour and utterly refreshing element which in combination with the sweetness of the goose liver created a perfect accord. The cacao added texture and built a bridge with its subtle bitterness. Outstanding.
These two dishes were accompanied by a wine from the Languedoc, a La Gandriolle, slightly sparkling and with some sweetness. Wonderful!
Then, the first course of the menu “Pere & Fils”: Sardines, légèrement fumées et marinées, émulsion et crème glace d’artichaut, tartare d’huître et l’huile d’olive-café. Sardines, mackerel and eel do make a comeback these days… (as Ferran Adria once stated on eGullet in 2004: “Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster.”) Here, Sergio uses every element of modern cuisine. Difference in textures (firm sardine, oyster tartar, crackers, ice cream, emulsion), differences in temperatures (from icy to room temperature) and a whole spectrum of flavors which would take years to describe them in detail. Needless to say that the sardine and the oyster tartar was of amazing quality and freshness. All together, this was the dish of the day – outstanding! The Bourgogne Chitry 2006 from De Moor had just enough character to stand the flavor variety of the dish.
Reading the next course on the menu made us think for some time whether to replace it or not: Tofu ‘Maison’ et langoustine cuit à basse T˚C, gel du vinaigre sushi, vinaigrette au langoustine et gomasio au thé vert. Okay, something with tofu which we were not particularly fond of – after a short discussion with our waiter we kept it – a good decision. The langoustine of excellent quality was softly cooked at low temperature to perfection. The homemade tofu is not like any tofu I have ever tasted – well, I have to admit I am no expert, but this was very homogeneous and had a taste (!) like some light cheese and smoky flavor. Very nice combination, particularly in combination with the gomasio (a Japanese salt made of sesame and sea salt which Sergio flavored with green tee). Outstanding and perfect!
This course was accompanied by a sake Watazibune Junmai Ginjo Funa made by Finjo, Funchu Homare. Junmai refers to pure rice wine and Ginjo means that 40% of the outer rice corn is polished away which makes this sake more delicate and complex than Honjuzu (some additives are allowed, the normal warm sake quality) or Junmai which both have 30% of the corn polished away. Really a nice match to this dish.
Next was Turbot au jus léger de curry vert et agrumes, crème de fenouil, pousses de fines herbes et les fleurs mangeable. Clearly it was hard for the poor turbot being the successor of two such dishes. He did quite well but couldn’t reach their level. The curry jus was not overpowering and worked nicely with the fennel and the different flowers, the thin slices of fennel produced an interesting textural counterpart. Very good.
Main course: Pigeon d’Anjou BBQ, sushi et crème de chou pointu, ‘duo penotti’ de foie gras d’oie et croquant de pistache. What a comeback of the foie/apple sphere from last year! This course is so typical for Sergio’s cooking as it can be. Superior product quality (the pigeon is among my personal top 3 along with Arzak‘s blue pigeon and Juan Amador‘s pigeon with purple curry), an intelligent variation of the pointed cabbage (marinated and as a creme to have a textural contrast) and the sphere with its richness and freshness. After one opens the sphere on the plate the different pieces quite naturally form an unique flavorful entity. Sensational and outstanding.
Hard to find a matching wine, but the Valpolicella Ripasso 2004 from Tenuta San Guido was more than that. It even enriched the intensity of the dish’s flavors.
Desserts: Previously they had called their parade of deserts “trois petit desert” which is a nice and modest description what is actually happening. This time we got different deserts – for sake of brevity I depict only the standard ones (where nuts are part of the ride but without gelatine) First, Choclate ‘Explosion’:
Framboise, rhubarbe et camomille
Couscous au fruits rouges, l’aloès vera et lait de soja
Deserts were not fully at last year’s level and maybe Peter Goossens spoiled us too much three days before when he served two amazing deserts. But still, deserts were very good. I had a glass of a fabulous Riesling Beerenauslese 2003 from Meisen in Rheinhessen/Germany.
Petit fours in two courses on the terrace again, just an impression:
The lunch was near perfection with less ups and downs than last year. Hey, if you get four outstanding dishes and a lot of excellent ones you cannot complain. On average, I would even prefer this year’s meal. The fruit theme is still present but less pronounced, the Japanese influence has increased a little, Sergio integrates also non-standard products in his cooking (like the surprising tofu) and dishes seem to be more elaborated and mature. Even after a year of eating at some of the best places in the world and further sharpening my tongue it is still among by personal top 3.
Oud Sluis is a must for every interested diner as Sergio Herman abandons very much with traditional combinations of flavors and products and creates new dishes with their own distinct character. The results are light and transparent, very tasty and pure fun. I never had the impression that his cuisine is too intellectually demanding with respect to understanding what was going on on the plate. On the contrary, one just intuitively discovers the dishes without needing an instruction manual.
Thanks to Sergio and the whole team for making this experience possible!
Can’t wait to go back!