Eating with Eichholtz
This is my last article about eating in Maastricht this academic year. To celebrate, I’m taking my favourite dining companion to our favourite restaurant. Mrs. Eichholtz and I are having dinner at Rozemarijn (Havenstraat). Rozemarijn is an ideal place for a quick and tasty lunch with a guest lecturer, for example. You’re guaranteed to impress your guest with your choice of restaurant and you’ll be back outside within an hour, so you can get back to work quickly. Today, though, Mrs. Eichholtz and I feel like having a long, lavish dinner.
Rozemarijn is celebrating its ten-year anniversary this year, in honour of which they’re offering a ten-course special menu. This, of course, is very tempting, but we also have to consider our upcoming cycling holiday, so we choose half the calories: five courses. Then again, five courses are really seven courses if you include the amuse-gueule and the friandises served with the coffee. In light of this, it’s a good thing the staff don’t automatically serve a basket of bread at the table, which would only encourage thoughtless eating that makes you lose your appetite by the third course.
Before the amuse-gueule, we receive other hors d’oeuvres to aid us in our menu choices. The pickled anchovy is simple, but its flavour is perfectly balanced between very mildly salty and tart. The most memorable of the hors d’oeuvres is the meringue made with boiled asparagus water and mascarpone cream. It combines a slightly sweet asparagus flavour with a very pleasant mouthfeel.
I choose the unconditional menu with a variety of fish and meat; Mrs. Eichholtz decides on fish. My starter is a modernized classic: steak tartare, but with piccalilli ice cream, caramelized red onion and barbecued celeriac. I’m very pleased with it, but my joy pales into insignificance compared to Mrs. Eichholtz’s. She gets crab with coconut and passion fruit. This is a phenomenal combination, as it turns out: creamy, with the passion fruit providing a fresh contrast. It’s a good start.
We were the first to sit down for dinner, but the restaurant has filled up by now and we’re surrounded by an enjoyable wall of sound. It’s clear that people come here to have fun, and do so.
The first downside presents itself during our second course. We both eat marinated tuna steak, which is delicious, with candied tomatoes – very juicy. Unfortunately, the tuna is served on a crispy puff pastry shell, sitting on vegetable puree. The puree is fine, but the pastry is too dry and completely negates the pleasant mouthfeel and taste of the other components of the dish.
Our third course, too, consists of fish: turbot with sea lavender, baby carrots and spring onion. The turbot is grilled to perfection, as are the vegetables. We’re both very enthusiastic about the leek sauce that comes with it. Its slightly sweet flavour beautifully connects the flavours of the vegetables and the fish. It’s a wonderful dish.
Up until this point, our dinners have followed the same coherent progression of flavour. This changes when the main courses come, though. Whereas mine is a next step in the crescendo of flavours, Mrs. Eichholtz’s main course is somewhat of an anti-climax. I get variations of lamb: lamb loin, rack of lamb and stewed lamb, with green asparagus au gratin and a wonderful sauce with rosemary. It looks beautiful, the meat is perfect and the sauce is great. Everything combines well and the dish is truly the highlight of my meal so far. It’s a stark contrast with Mrs. Eichholtz’s lemon sole. It’s not bad in itself, but compared to the turbot it’s a step back in terms of taste intensity. It comes with a nice but slightly bland Gulpener beer sauce, and the potato and asparagus garnish is cold. The structure of the menu could be better. Fortunately, the dessert of strawberries, strawberry crémeux and rhubarb jelly makes up for it. And when we’re served mini lemon meringue pies with our coffee, we’re both happy as clams at high tide.
After dinner, both of us are still as enthusiastic about Rozemarijn as we were when we sat down to eat. The competition in Maastricht among these types of restaurants is fierce, so Rozemarijn sets high standards for its kitchen and staff. Both are excellent: the atmosphere at the restaurant was great, the staff pleasant and the food fantastic. Fortunately, we’ll be going back soon.