image from Smaeck
A while back, on Valentines Day (omg that’s almost 2 months ago!), we went for dinner in Groningen. Now, we don’t really celebrate Valentines Day (too commercial etc etc..), but we were both free on the 14th so we decided to go ahead and plan a date 😉 And so we ended up at Smaeck. Smaeck is a patisserie at day (more a coffee place if you ask me) and a fine dining restaurant at night. As it was quite an experience, I thought I’d share a little ‘review’ with you guys 😀
As you enter Smaeck, which is a small cosy building, you’ll notice a few elements that show that they’re not a restaurant at day (at day, they sell mainly coffee/drinks and a few pastries): There are scribbles on the wall (day-time menu, very cute), small wooden tables (and chairs) and the place feels slightly crammed. However, to make the place a bit more luxurious, there are soft fluffy fabrics on some of the chairs and candles to set the mood. Although it’s not what you’d expect, you’ll notice they made a great effort to make good use of such a small space. The place doesn’t look super fancy like you’d expect with ‘real’ fine dining, but we didn’t mind and liked the ambience. Besides, it’s all about the food, right?!
Once you step inside, there’s immediately someone to take your coat. As we got early, we even got to pick a table 😀 On the day we ate at Smaeck, there were two waiters (?). I think one of them might’ve been a sommelier (aka wine man). One was really friendly and he really made an effort to make guests feel welcome. He explained the dishes well, but didn’t interrupt too much in between meals (which is what I like, but to each his own). The other, was quite cold, made little eye contact when talking to us and didn’t seem very excited about working there. It could’ve been a bad day though. Don’t judge on one experience 🙂
So we started off with an “apéritif” to get our digestion going. Usually, an apéritif is something with alcohol. This was also the case at Smaeck: A gin cocktail, infused with rosemary, garlic and tomato! Weird huh? I had never heard of it before. The flavors were very different than usual, but it worked really well together in a cocktail. We both enjoyed it (even though I barely drink alcohol). The only downside to this drink is that it contains alcohol. If you don’t drink alcohol, you’ll have to skip this one. Then, we got this plate with pork belly. The pork belly was really really soft. No honestly, really soft: I have trouble eating “fat-texture” (it makes me gag. tmi sorry haha..), but I had no trouble eating Smaeck’s pork belly! It’s the first time I could eat a complete piece of pork belly 😀 It was really easy to cut through the meat (and fat). The dish was seasoned well, but I did feel like they used too big a plate for such a small dish. But maybe that’s just the trend with food-plating at the moment. I wouldn’t know xD
The second dish was fish with a foam and a berry gel. This is totally one of those awesome Masterchef dishes on tv I drool over! The sweet berry gel complimented the salty fish well and it was my first time trying salsify (I had to google that one) after seeing it many many times on Masterchef Australia (love that show). I did feel like my fish was too salty, but to be honest I have a bit of a salt-reduced palette (my boyfriend had no trouble with it).
Third, entrecote! The dish my boyfriend (meat lover) was waiting for 😛 The plate had a pepper sauce, a beautifully soft and smooth(!) potato mash and polenta two ways. I needed more potato mash. Like a whole big bowl. Yum! It was so good. The entrecote was a bit too rare for me, but everything else was great! If I wasn’t in a restaurant, I probably would’ve licked my plate haha… Also, I LOVED this plating. It made my eyes glisten as it was served 😀 The entrecote was a bit too rare for me, but everything else was great! If I wasn’t in a restaurant, I probably would’ve licked my plate haha…
Finally, dessert. The course I was looking forward to try ^^ After all, sweet baked goods are something I actually have a teensy tiny bit of knowledge about. For dessert, we had a cornflakes(!) panna cotta, with a nutella brownie, chocolate ‘sand’ and drops of dulce leche. To my surprise, the panna cotta really tastes like cornflakes. It was good. The panna cotta was really smooth, but I couldn’t determine wobblyness as it was such a small piece. But from what I tasted, the mouth-feel was more like a firm pudding than panna cotta. The Nutella brownie was bit dry, but it was compensated by the drops of dulce leche. It was an okay-dish; I liked the other courses were better.
Overall, Smaeck was a really nice experience. The food had new surprising flavors and was made with local ingredients. There’s no a la carte so you’ll have to eat what they serve. They do take allergies into account though. Als, their menu changes from time to time so you’ll probably won’t get the same dishes as the ones I had. We paid about € 100,- for 4-courses with appetizer, mini-popcorn soup and 1 glass of wine. The quality/price ratio is good, but it’s not a budget-proof restaurant and really a one time experience if you don’t have a lot of money to spend.
Oude Boteringestraat 8
Have you ever tried fine dining?