De Librije – the art of dining
De Librije is one of the most iconic restaurants in The Benelux. Jonnie Boer, his wife Thérèse Boer and their team determined the standards of gastronomy in The Netherlands (and all over the world) the past decade. Until now, every seven year Jonnie and Thérèse renovated De Librije to give a new impulse to their life and the gastronomy world in general. In 2014 they decided to revolutionary change De Librije and moved the restaurant to a new location.
The Librije is now housed in the old prison building where Jonnie Boer’s second restaurant, Librije’s Zusje, and the Librije Hotel were previously located. Librije’s Zusje moved to the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Amsterdam. The old restaurant section in the prison building got a serious upgrade and can be seen as one of the most beautiful and creative restaurant interiors in Europe. It is designed in cooperation with interior designer Eric Kuster who created an eclectic, modern, organic and surprising ensemble. Brown, grey and white colours are complemented with colourful artistic elements, artworks (most of them are also for sale), lots of green, and different types of wood. The dining area is located in the former courtyard which is covered by an impressive roof in glass and an iron structure. When seated, guests have the impression they dine outdoors in a green and rural area. A fantastic setting to enjoy Jonnie Boer’s exquisite food experience.
The old prison also features a bar area, a private dining room, an impressive kitchen (the cold part is located in the dining area, the hot part is located just behind), a cooking school, a shop, and 19 luxurious rooms that are named after flowers and plants. The rooms are an experience in themselves and this is one prison you definitely want to spend the night in! Upon entering the property, guests are immersed in an unreal, luxurious atmosphere that is hard to let go. In total, around 50 people work at the premises. In the kitchen, a team of 14 chefs assist Jonnie Boer and around 10 people take care of the service in the dining room.
Chef Patron Jonnie Boer changes the rules of gastronomy without ever planning it. He simply follows his instinct and cooks what he believes is delicious food. Local produce is his main source of inspiration and he uses it for many years - before it became the trend it is today. It was obvious for Jonnie to use the locally handpicked mushrooms instead of buying them from a producer far away. This might sound obvious today, but in the nineteen eighties this was something few others did. The years have become decades and Jonnie Boer still develops himself and his restaurant without ever betraying the pure flavours and authentic nature of his produce. Also in the new Librije, he remains loyal to his philosophy and the concept has not changed (except that the food and service might have got even better). In his new environment there is also room to cultivate his own herbs and plants just next to the tables, which enhances the interaction between the food and the ingredients. Next to being a great chef, Jonnie Boer is a down-to-earth person with a big sense of humour and warmth.
At De Librije, guests are confronted with a different type of menu: you can pick your favourite dishes out of 4 clusters, and the chef completes your menu with 1-3 dishes of his choice (according to the chosen menu size). The ingredient combinations are unique and the chef is praised worldwide for his creativity and terroir-based kitchen. He also employs a wide range of techniques like fermentation and hot stone cooking, and always tries to use these techniques in a way that is unusual and surprising. His preparation with langoustine, for example, is marinated for 3 hours in a kombucha, so it becomes a sort of a ceviche. It is slightly burned at the table, and finished with a salad of bamboo, Japanese pear, galangal, turmeric, celery and an exquisite juice of French beans. Another impressive dish is the Rib eye of the local ‘Roodbunt’ milk cow, dry aged for 6-8 weeks and prepared at the table. It is first served on a hot stone of 150° which was dusted with spices and mushroom powder. The fat of the meat starts melting and incorporates the aromas of the powder. After a few minutes it is plated in a cow’s shoulder plate with crispy potato, ginger flower, flowers and a salad of asparagus from Raalte. A dish to remember.
Jonnie Boer met his wife Thérèse at De Librije in 1992 and since then they have created one of the best restaurants in the world. Thérèse Boer is more than the Lady of the House who invites every guest as if they were her close friends, she is also a highly competent sommelier. Together with Maitre Stefan De Wilde she leads the dining room in a unique, vibrant and cosmopolitan way. The wine list is impressive and features an enormous selection of French top wines.
With the change to the new location, De Librije enhances its potential to become one of the world’s leading restaurants. Chef Patron Jonnie Boer remains a pioneer concerning the use of local produce and his innovative cooking continues to inspire chefs all over the world. De Librije is more than a restaurant: it is an unforgettable total experience combining food, art, luxury, innovation and creativity. A must visit over and over again.
De Librije scored 92 points of 100 points in our rating system. View our Top 60 of the world. Back to the reviews.
By Sven, Frank & Adriaan
8011 ZZ Zwolle
Phone: +31 38 421 2083