Last week I had the most unique dining experience ever. I had a sunset dinner on Vuurtoren Eiland, which translates Lighthouse island. The deserted island is a one-hour boat ride from the Amsterdam shore, and exclusively for guests who booked this experience. There are limited spots available so it does take endurance and patience to score a ticket for this much coveted restaurant. The restaurant is only open in summer and organizes weekday dinners and Sunday lunches. The only way to get to the island is by their chartered boat, a wonderful experience, especially when warm and sunny as you can sit on the upper deck. While taking in the spectacular views of Amsterdam, all guests are offered champagne, beer, or wine, and a small wooden box filled with pure food like sardines, sausage, French baguette, radish and salted butter.
The one-hour boat ride feels like a primary school field trip. People get more excited as we approach the island and see the light house and a red roofed house in our view. Once on shore, we quickly walk up the rugged island to encounter wild sheep, old sheppard cabins, the light house and the restaurant in a glass house. The evening sun casts a golden glow on the island, making it even more special. Every now and then a sail boat passes by, but other than that it’s pure bliss and silence on a remote island.
The evenings at Lighthouse Island are long and intimate due to a small group of people, sumptuous food, enough time to relax and to enjoy the room as well as the island in between courses, and being in a totally secluded area. It is really more like a mini holiday than a night out.
The cooking on Lighthouse Island, is done with passion and care. It’s about tradition, nature, culture, and artisan craft. Being together, eating together, sharing and the experience. No fancy food but meat still on the bone, a whole fish, vegetables from the ground. The food is from suppliers they have a personal relationship with. You can taste that they cook with local and seasonal products with character and a story.
The food is from independent farmers, local hunters, fishermen, brewers and distillers, who follow their own path and have the same vision and passion for what real food should be. The cooks work from “head to tail” not to waste anything.
Traditional dishes are prepared with artisan techniques: Fermentation, pickling, canning, pickling, smoking and roasting. and heated with warmth of fire and a wood-burning oven.
The table d’hote menu consists of 4 courses, and changes weekly. As a pre-starter we had fresh bread with dried fish, soured cream, polder grouse, beans and mustard. The grouse was to die for! The starter was a opperdoeze potato prepared in salt dough, with pickled cucumber and cream. The main course was veal with pumpkin mash, oyster mayonnaise, palm cabbage and tartar.
After a delicious dessert: semolina with ice cream and cherries, it was time to head to the boat again. The boat ride back you can enjoy tea and coffee on the lower deck and enjoy the many lights on Amsterdam’s shore. It was a spectacular dining experience and I hope to do it again sometime soon. http://vuurtoreneiland.nl