De Librije is one of the most iconic restaurants in The Benelux. Jonnie Boer, his wife Thérèse Boer and their team redefined the standards of gastronomy in The Netherlands (and beyond).
Since 2014, De Librije is housed in the old prison building where Jonnie Boer’s second restaurant, Librije’s Zusje, was 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, 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. 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 on themselves and this is one prison you definitely want to spend the night in! Upon entering the property, guests are immersed in a 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 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 which 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. In his extraordinary environment in Zwolle, there is also room to cultivate his own herbs and plants just next to the tables. An element that enhances the interaction between the guests 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 can choose for the “De Librije” menu, featuring 10 dishes, or compose a menu with 5 up to 7 dishes from 4 clusters. 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. A deceivingly simple dish is the vegetarian steak tartare of watermelon combined with piccalilli. A masterpiece in terms of preparation and flavour! Another impressive dish is the Ermelose duck main course, cooked in hay and combined with celery. Definitely one of the best duck servings we ever tasted.
Jonnie Boer met his wife Thérèse at De Librije and 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 and the team, 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.
De Librije is one of the world’s leading restaurants and an example for many. 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.
Jonnie And Thérèse Boer
Written by Sven, Frank & Johan