We have already been to restaurant Pollevie in Den Bosch, almost three years ago. The conclusion then was that the food was decent and the stories with the wine fair. In the meantime, the Pollevie has moved and has been declared the Vegetable Restaurant of the Netherlands 2017 by the Groene Gault&Millau. Enough reason to go back again.
The new Pollevie is a large space, with a large bar of raw wood in the middle. In the afternoon you can enjoy a high wine, a wine tasting with (half) glasses and matching snacks. In the evening you can eat à la carte (main courses between 19.50 and 24 euros) or opt for the ‘parade pollevie’, a menu of 4 to 6 courses, very reasonably priced with 9 euros per course.
On the map
A large map of Brabant is painted on the wall. This is not easy. Pollevie is all about local products. Chef Martin Berkelmans is a member of the Slow Food chefs alliance and therefore sources as many regional products as possible from small-scale producers who otherwise run the risk of being pushed out of the market by ‘Big Food’. The main example tonight is the Kempisch heath sheep. This provides the wool for the acoustic panels that dampen the sound in the large room. And of course it’s on the map. Not like lamb, really like sheep.
You can forget everything you think you know about sheep. There’s really nothing stale about this one or two year old beast. Two nice pieces of red leg are firm but tender and packed with flavour, just like the braised neck. Smart to combine the mutton with Indian influences – crème of dahl (Indian lentil stew), ‘lentil daupine’ (a fried lentil ball. Yet, with asparagus and an ear of corn, it has remained a very local dish. And very tasty. Please tell me more sheep, Kempisch heath sheep that is.
But of course they have not been declared a vegetable restaurant for that. Incidentally, this election is not so much about vegetarian cuisines, but about restaurants where vegetables play an important role and serve as a source of inspiration. And that is certainly the case with Pollevie. There are beautiful vegetable preparations with every course, they get a lot of attention, and they all have the right cuisson. And they are used cleverly, like the fermented blueberries that give an earthy-salty touch to a creamy rabbit rillette with red cabbage. Or the fermented radish strings that give a funky sour kick to a sparkling vegetable dish with radish, pear, lentils, fennel, dill, a light goat cheese foam and vadouvan.
Vegetarians will certainly get their money’s worth. Only for the main course the quail eggs are a bit scanty replacement for the mutton. But for the white asparagus (again perfectly cooked) with mushroom cream and wild garlic infused thinly sliced mushroom, the eel (an endangered fish!) is replaced by a masterfully voluptuous artichoke gravy. That results in the most interesting dish of the evening.
In honor of the nomination (they didn’t know they would win last weekend) they came up with a savory pre-dessert: a cucumber sorbet with timut pepper (family of the anesthetic sechzuan) in a tomato-elderflower broth, raspberry segment, super-concentrated lemon peel tufts exciting bitter peaks. It is a very successful balance between savory and sweet, daring, modern and above all very fresh. Let that sweet chocolate violence sit comfortably afterwards.
Any comments? There is still something to be gained in the portioning, slightly smaller plates would make the dishes more elegant. And for a restaurant that advertises itself with high wine, the wines are quite middle of the road – all good to drink, but not very exciting. That said, great strides have been made. And that election as a vegetable restaurant is justified.