In the beautiful Dutch province of Zeeland, in an area which is surrounded by water, you can find the small town of Bruinisse. Most activities here are related to fishing or farming. It is in this inspiring environment that in March 2018 chef Michael van der Kroft and his team opened Bij Petit Kitchen & Bar. With half a year of hard work, they churned the bar that had the same name for the past 50 years and which is owned by the father of the chef’s right hand, Jeroen Hoep, into a contemporary restaurant.
The story of van der Kroft is quite interesting. Opening this restaurant is a second career for him. He has been a professional BMX rider in The Netherlands for many years. Because it was difficult to make a living in that business, he started combining his sports activities with work in the kitchen, and that has triggered his passion for food and for a life behind the stove. He has worked at Tosca in Rotterdam, a restaurant that at that time was known for refined Italian food. After about two years, he was appointed chef of Tosca in August 2016. In the meanwhile, the kitchen had evolved significantly and the style was more Dutch then Italian. However, when at a certain point of time the restaurant chose to bring back Italian influences, van der Kroft decided to move on. After Tosca, he became chef de partie in Meliefste. His cooking style was very much aligned with what Thijs Meliefste serves in his restaurant. However, Michael missed the recognition of being a chef himself. That was the moment that he realized that he was ready for his own restaurant. When he was contacted by Jeroen with the idea to open Bij Petit together, things went very fast.
Bij Petit has a very strong focus on the products that they use to create their dishes. The goal is to source all the products in The Netherlands. The fish they use, comes straight from the boats in Zeeland. They buy it directly from the fishermen. Vegetables come from their own farm, which is in walking distance of the restaurant, or from farmers in the neighbourhood. The rather introvert plating style of van der Kroft, makes the taste sensation of his creations even more surprising. The chef does not shy away from using unusual ingredients or unexpected food pairings, but he succeeds in making it work dish after dish. Starting a dinner with an amuse bouche made of pork blood might be strange to some guests, but the combination with the foie was very convincing. The pear and tomato dish was unique and we think the chef should keep it on his menu as a signature dish of Bij Petit.
The interior design is rather casual but classy and the presence of wood and leather creates a special atmosphere. From most tables in the restaurant, you can see the open kitchen, where Michael and Jeroen are cooking. Service is in the capable hands of Emy Koster. She is the girlfriend of Chef Michael and also has a history behind the stove. Even though in Bij Petit she works in front of the house, she keeps the connection with the kitchen by actively participating in the mise en place.The service is attentive and correct. The team of Bij Petit aims at giving guests the feeling that they have been out of their normal environment for a while. By serving the snacks very fast after you arrive in the restaurant, they want to make sure that you immediately forget the stress of work. The wine list consists of about fifty labels of which the majority originates from the new world. On the wine menu, the wines come with a clear description and are listed based on the taste profile they have.
Bij Petit is still new but already now they succeed in treating their guests to a unique dining experience. You can expect surprising contemporary dishes with the best ingredients that can be found in The Netherlands, served in a friendly and casual manner. We are looking forward to seeing how Bij Petit will further evolve. Chef van der Kroft will need to make sure that he can keep creating new dishes that maintain the same level of creativity and quality, but in the meanwhile, we can only recommend you to visit the beautiful province of Zeeland and enjoy a surprising lunch or dinner in Bij Petit.
Written by Johan