In the middle of cosy Utrecht lies a beautifully quiet oasis, a monumental building that houses a 5-star hotel and various culinary concepts. Let’s discover Restaurant Karel V in Utrecht.
Culinary joy Grand Hotel & Restaurant Karel V in Utrecht
Bistro & Lounge Karel V
Let’s just immediately go to the culinary part of Grand Hotel & Restaurant Karel V, because that is one of the main reasons we have come to this place. Karel V has a lot to offer for foodies, whether you are staying at the hotel or not, an absolute culinary delight! Many private dining meetings and parties take place here, for example weddings, baby showers etc. There is also a beautiful bistro in the garden, where you can enjoy accessible cuisine with a fancy twist. They also offer a very well taken care of high tea, which undoubtedly explains its popularity.
Elegant dining at Restaurant Karel V
No matter how tempting the tea party looks, we must skip it, as we have planned a dinner in the gastronomical restaurant of Karel V. That dinner takes place on the beautiful garden terrace, where we can enjoy a delicious summer breeze until late in the evening.
It is also very beautiful on the inside, with classic decoration and authentic elements. Our compliments for the way in which the medieval dining room, in which the members of the monastery brothers enjoyed their meals, has today been transformed into a contemporary, elegant, and monumental space. To enjoy that part of the restaurant we will just have to come back during the winter, won’t we?
In the period between 2005 and 2013, Restaurant Karel V had a Michelin star. Today they clearly have the ambition to get that star back. The setting is in any case already present, and the warm welcome as well. We are wondering what our plates will look like.
Passionate chef & team
Before we are seated at our table, we meet chef Vito Reekers, a spontaneous, cheery man who has been working at Restaurant Karel V since 2007 and has therefore built up the necessary know-how. He knows the restaurant like no one else and knows how to pass on his knowledge and passion to the team. Reekers’ cooking style is classic, without being boring or plain. Refreshing and surprising are values that are treasured here, so they really strive to achieve these. No lack of ambition here.
As for the rest of the team, we can say that they definitely master the art of attentive service, as well as how to share their knowledge with the guests.
On the menu at Restaurant Karel V
As usual, we prefer to follow the chef’s suggestion, and if he proposes to choose the ‘Elegant Menu’, then our answer is of course ‘yes please’. Chef Vito Reekers describes it as a contemporary menu with creativity and freshness. Sounds good already!
We start with a glass of sparkling Grüner Veltliner from Vienna and along comes a very nice amuse with pickled cherry, beetroot, hempseed, and dill.
A playful bowl of prawn crackers with tomato and basil is brought to our table together with a tube of cheese spread to try out ourselves.
The third appetizer is a combination of roasted green tomatillo tomato, verbena flan, chard emulsions, a green apple winegum and a cucumber and verbena broth.
Hamachi, soy/tofu meat, algae and black cardamom are next.
Another fine piece of art is the dish with trout in different servings (fillet, cream and caviar), lavender and white asparagus. This plate is finished with fennel gazpacho.
We continue with lobster, lemon verbena, honey tomato filled with lobster tartar, compote of strawberry and tomato and strawberry jelly.
After that we are served hake, shiitake, iberico pata negra (joselito), white asparagus, smoked ricotta ravioli and a sauce based on pata negra.
A delicious and very tasty dish is the oyster with cream and pearls of cecina de Leon, chives and different onion preparations. Maybe our favourite of this menu.
We are surprised by an intermediate dish: a mini BBQ with lamb köfte, cream of young peas and crunchy wasabi.
Our main course is lamb in three preparations (saddle, streaky bacon and stew), accompanied by green curry, lemper, coriander, fermented coconut milk and lamb sauce.
Time now for a refreshing pre-dessert with blackberries.
To conclude we try the ‘vlaflip’ 2017 as our dessert, which at Karel V is, of course, a contemporary interpretation of this typical Dutch dessert. We taste the ice-cream bars raspberry cream, vanilla and ice cream parfait made from yoghurt, topped off with olive oil and broth of unripe grapes and vanilla.
We like to finish with the wine line-up. We have often tasted surprising wines during this dinner and there has clearly been a lot of attention for harmonious pairing with the dishes when selecting them.
Restaurant Karel V is just a wonderful place to dine, and the dishes and the service are perfect examples. Are they on their way to getting that Michelin star back? Definitely yes if you ask us, and combined with the fact that you have to walk only a few meters afterwards to dive into a soft royal bed, you just know that it does not get much better than that. More about the overnight stay in contemporary luxury and imposing history can be read in article about Grand Hotel Karel V.