We wanted good old-fashioned food, and after research we chose In ‘t Vierde Baarsje, a restaurant that has been around for more than forty years and has a reputation for table preparations. Table preparations, we hadn’t heard that word for a long time; memories popped up like mushrooms. Remember that chef who flambéed a roast duck with Grand Marnier? And that the pan caught fire and the tablecloth set on fire? Meat fondue is also a table preparation, right? Do you like Stroganoff? Rejoice is a verb.
When we enter we are kindly directed towards the basement – the bar. That bar is brown, the fireplace is not on because of the warm autumn, but coziness comes here by the linear meter anyway. The hostess pours a generous glass of – “not that economical” – white wine, puts out spiced peanuts and serves beef sausage and liverwurst with pickles from the house. We note a culinary minus (wine with peanuts), but put two lines in the plus because of the uncomplicated hospitality.
Once upstairs she has already put a tasty plate on the table for us. “With all kinds of tasty things,” she says. Wet cucumber salad, egg salad, (bake-off) baguette with rosettes of herb butter, whole radishes, spicy olives and lettuce with tomato and egg. “These are not amuse-bouches, this is a birthday,” says one appalled. “Come out of your culinary bubble,” the other replies, and in no time the shelf is empty. Behind us are four generations of Amsterdammers, a family that clearly comes here more often. “Daley, you wanted fondue, didn’t you?” Grandpa asks. He himself hangs back comfortably – we note a construction worker’s cleavage – looking at the chef and the flames, he can expect a giant steak on his plate at any moment. It is a mighty beautiful spectacle.
In the meantime we get a coupe of shrimp cocktail (15.50): Dutch lettuce, Dutch shrimps, thin mayonnaise, lemon wedge and toast with butter, just as it should be, including red berries on top. Correction: as it should have been in Wina Born’s time. For the other, there is venison pâté with hare (14.50) – we doubt whether this is homemade – with the sweetest cranberry compote and salad. Next comes a sweet ghost.
Pièce de résistance is the table preparation: Filets de veau Zingara (two persons 76.50), fried and flambéed veal tenderloin with mushrooms, leek and cooked ham, cream and beef stock drawn from bones and beef tongue and stirred into a thick sauce. The chef pours large splashes of brandy, Madeira and red wine over the meat and sets everything on fire. In the meantime he talks about life and work. He lives with his “wife” (the hostess) and children in Oostzaan, nice and quiet, has been working in this business for twenty-one years, which he and she took over just before the corona. His tranquility and perspective are heartwarming and contagious in a time of polarization and sourness. The cuisson is good, the meat tender, the sauce has a taste that we almost forgot and the accompanying vegetables – haricots with bacon and baked potatoes – are secretly quite tasty. He tells with knowledge but without fuss about the Portuguese wine, a cellar leftover (Dão, 42.50) that tastes good.
We have long since thrown our notepad into the fire. We leave the scoring for what it is. There’s a lot going on here culinary. A little too much comes from wholesalers, vegetarians have to make do with mushroom risotto, the music is sometimes intrusive and it is also too expensive. But we simply have no resistance to so much fun, that cannot be quantified. You are seduced or not and that is also strongly mood or company related.
When we pay the chef, neatly with a tip, he looks at the ATM and grins in a Cornelis Vreeswijk-like tone: “He says it’s too little.”
Reviewer and journalist Petra Possel weekly test a restaurant in and around Amsterdam.