Inter Scaldes is located in the far west of the Netherlands in Zeeland province, and has been running for three decades. The current head chef is Jannis Brevet, who was born locally and took over the kitchen in 2001 from Maarte en Kees Boudeling. The latter purchased the property in 1968 and converted it from a barracks into a hotel and restaurant. Inter Scaldes gained a Michelin star in 1977, with the second star being awarded in 1982 and the ultimate third star appearing in the 2018 Michelin guide.
To reach the restaurant you can fly to Amsterdam and take a train to Rotterdam, which is 94km (58 miles) from the restaurant, or of course fly to Rotterdam if you can find a flight. From Rotterdam station you can take a train in the direction of Vlissingen and get off at the little station of Kruiningen-Yerseke, which is so off the beaten track that there is not even a taxi rank, and you need to walk over the tracks to exit the station. You could also reach Inter Scaldes via Antwerp (58km away) and then a train. As you may have gathered by now, the province of Zealand is not exactly an urban metropolis, and is indeed the least populated part of The Netherlands. Inter Scaldes itself is a peninsula of reclaimed land near the villages of Kruiningen and Yerseke, the latter known for its oyster pits. The property has the restaurant in the main building with a further block at the back with a dozen bedrooms. These look over some very pretty ornamental gardens. The dining room is on the ground floor and has a view over the same gardens, and usually seats around thirty or so diners.
There was an a la carte menu in addition to the eight course tasting menu for €185 (£162) that we opted for. The wine list had over five hundred choices with quite varying markups and included wines such as Kuhling-Gillot Grauburgunder and Chardonnay Qvinterra 2012 for €45 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for around €12, Berthet-Bonda Tradition 2008 at €85 compared to its retail price of €61, and Chateau Musar White 2008 at an unkind €120 for a wine that will set you back €36 in the shops. At the posh end of the list, Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault Charmes 2015 was a very fair €275 compared to its retail price of €271, and the Lafon Le Montrachet Grand Cru 2015 was €2,400 for a wine whose current market value is €2,031. Bottled water was €7.50.
The meal began with some nibbles. Warm crab from the North Sea came with black truffle, hazelnuts and egg white with a vinaigrette of orange blossom. This was lovely, the crab fresh and the combination of other elements harmonious (18/20). A Parmesan crisp cylinder was stuffed with avocado and pistachio; the filling was excellent though the cylinder itself could have been a touch crisper (17/20). Watermelon was infused with cucumber and was served on a bed of pea mousse with green pea cream, with a curry flavoured filo crisp. The pea flavour came through well and the texture of the mousse was silky smooth (16/20). A further amuse-bouche was egg with cauliflower and local smoked eel with basil cream, garnished with chive, which had creamy texture (17/20).
Even better was Peking duck with duck foie gras and popcorn foam with rhubarb on the side. The acidity of the rhubarb was a lovely foil for the richness of the excellent duck (19/20). The final nibble was cream of Jerusalem artichoke and terrine of duck foie gras with hazelnut and truffle with fig chutney, whose sharpness cut nicely through the richness of the foie gras (18/20). Bread here was made from scratch in the kitchen, including sourdough and white rolls which had good texture (16/20). This was accompanied by superb hand-made butter from Brittany.
The first formal course was caviar from the Netherlands served in two different ways. One came with coconut, avocado and a crisp of chicken skin. This was excellent, but even better was a little China egg containing caviar on a bed of mousse brandade made with sea sturgeon instead of the traditional cod, mixed with olive oil and potato and a touch of sea salt. This brandade was absolutely stunning, perfectly smooth and beautifully balanced (20/20).
Queen scallop tartare was served on scallop shells with black truffle, rice vinegar, chervil and tomato foam with bay leaves. The foam really tasted of tomato and the scallops had much better flavour than is usual for the little queen scallops, having pleasing sweetness (18/20). This was followed by langoustine tail with carrots, diced Taggia olives, chervil and melon balls in a langoustine jus. The shellfish had excellent flavour and was lightly cooked, the accompaniments working well - a classy dish showcasing a top quality ingredient (19/20).
Lemon sole was an unusual choice of fish for a fine dining restaurant. Here it was prettily presented with ponzu, rice vinegar, white asparagus with a sauce involving Zeeland buckthorn, along with leaves of sea purslane. The asparagus was excellent and the acidity of the ponzu was good, but there are limits to how much flavour you are ever going to extract from lemon sole (17/20). King crab came with walnut, tonka beans,mango, citrus, whiskey and Chanteney carrots. The crab had lovely flavour and was entirely free of shell, and the carrots had excellent flavour (18/20). This was followed by lobster from Zeeland, which was very tender and came with carrots, broad beans, asparagus, leek, turnip and a subtle ginger sauce (18/20). The final savoury course was red mullet with sweet peppers, artichoke, thyme and a coconut sauce. Red mullet is a lovely fish when it is of high quality and carefully cooked, as it was here. The vegetables also had terrific flavour (19/20).
For dessert, a soufflé was made with vanilla and quark, which is a sour cream cheese as well as being a class of subatomic particles. As an aside, there are six types of quarks: up, down, top, bottom, strangeness and charm. The quark flavour in this soufflé fortunately managed to err on the side of charm rather than strangeness. The soufflé had even texture and was as light and fluffy as you could wish. It came with a compote of rhubarb and champagne and curry ice cream, which worked better than it sounds (19/20). Cherries were marinated in port and came with mint, pineapple, beetroot and piquillo peppers, with a sauce of the poaching juices, with an orange crisp with chicory roots and citrus fruits. This flavour combination was tending towards strangeness rather than charm, and the cherries themselves had rather limited flavour, especially compared to those that can be found at top restaurants in France (16/20).
Coffee was from a roaster called Cook and Boon in Breda and was very good, coming with an impressive array of petit fours. There was a trio of macarons: raspberry (which was superb), mango (lovely) and basil with yoghurt (ah well). There was also nougat and caramel with salted butter, and marshmallow perfumed with roses, as well as some excellent chocolate trufflesflavoured with Grand Marnier. There was more to come. Yuzu caramel was very good, and a passion fruit tartlet was superb, along with a very good pistachio cake and pleasant marscapone with cherries (19/20 petit fours).
The bill came to €344 (£302) with an excessive amount of good wine. If you shared a modest bottle then a more typical cost per head might be around £190. Service was genuinely classy, the staff attentive, helpful and enthusiastic. Overall I very much enjoyed Inter Scaldes, whose menu highlights the excellent produce of the area, and whose dishes aim to provide pleasure to the customer rather than show off how clever and inventive the chef is. There are plenty of worse three star restaurants than this.