Oud Sluis

Beestenmarkt 2, Sluis, Zeeuws Vlaanderen, Netherlands

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Editor's note. Oud Sluis closed at the end of 2013. A great pity.

This restaurant is in the rather unlikely setting of a parade of shops in the small town of Sluis in Zeeland. The dining room is simple, split into two, with wood panelling in part and otherwise white walls; the decor is modern with wooden flooring, and the atmosphere relaxed. The service was friendly and capable, with smartly dressed and helpful waiters. The wine list is extensive and has very good coverage of the New World, with good growers such as Bonny Doon and Ata Rangi, for example. Mark-ups were not excessive e.g. Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling is listed at 44 euros. The bread is rather an oddity, just slices from a small white loaf, which was pleasant but nothing special (15/20).

We started with an amuse-bouche of buckwheat spaghetti with marinaded mackerel and yuzu (a Japanese lemon) foam, topped with a sorbet of lemon, wasabi and sake. The pasta had excellent texture and the sorbet worked well, giving a little spice and freshness to contrast with the pasta (19/20).This was followed by a frozen emulsion of olive oil and Granny Smith apples, which was refreshing and had smooth texture (18/20). After this was a nice touch: a herring waffle with little blobs of cream of avocado and cream of curry (19/20). Next was a warm aioli of mayonnaise with crostini, the garlic taste nicely under control (19/20).

The first "proper" course was an almond soup with a series of little dishes: an almond soup that had good flavour but for me was not enhanced by the presence of a cold egg yolk, a superb soup of mussels with green apple and soya juice which had great depth of flavour, a little cucumber filled with sardine, and cockles with spuma escabeche (18/20 overall).

Next was a little "pizza" of seared bluefin tuna with an oriental dressing and various cucumber dishes: cucumber jelly, cucumber foam and a tiny "micro cucumber", as well as a cucumber roll and excellent pickled cucumber.  The pizza base was rather like crispbread, which was a little odd though not unpleasant, but the tuna was very good and the cucumber preparations were remarkable - they really demonstrated the versatility of tastes which a humble vegetable is capable of (20/20).

Next was a prawn jelly accompanied by various tomato preparations: a spiral shaped jelly of tomato stock, cherry tomato impregnated with herbs, warm tomato stock and a nitrogen frosted tomato with basil (18/20). This was certainly interesting, though I felt that the raw quality of the tomatoes used was not the very best. A tartare of langoustine was prettily presented with beads of olive oil and ouzo, a little sour cream and caviar. This was technically well made, though I am not sure it is the best thing to do a with a langoustine (17/20). Next was a large baked langoustine (better idea!), which was tender and served with a cream of aubergine, vinegar of parsley, fresh (and excellent) almonds and lovely toro (belly of tuna) which had been lightly seared (19/20).

The next course was an interpretation of paella, made with Spanish bomba rice (flavoured with saffron and shrimp juice) and with a piece of tender lobster and a little cream of peas with garlic and lemon (19/20). The last of the savoury courses was a piece of nicely timed turbot, with a fennel cream, a single asparagus spear, a little king crab, a tartare of crab, a delicate tempura of soft shell crab and a little cream of asparagus - this was a lovely dish with harmonious tastes and excellent technique (20/20). Cheese was a fairly simple affair: no board, but a selection of Fougeru, Munster, Puligny St Pierre and Colston Basset Stilton as well as a solitary Dutch cheese I did not recognise (18/20). This was served with a delicate Parmesan tuile and dark rye bread that was perhaps a little on the crispy side.

Desserts began with a zabbaglione of cappucino with caramel crunch, white chocolate tuile and a jelly of kaffir lemon (18/20). This was followed by an ice cream of soya milk, a single very fresh raspberry, raspberry jelly and a jelly of vinegar (18/20). One odd thing was that, having meticulously replaced the cutlery after every course until now, they they replaced the used cutlery on the table. Given the standard of service it is hard to believe this was an error, but it is a peculiar idea and I asked for some fresh cutlery at this point, which was brought without comment. The third dessert was a jelly of coconut, a praline inside which was a liquid centre of passion fruit and a powder of passion fruit along with a lime sorbet. The coconut jelly and the ball of passion fruit were arranged to appear like a flying saucer (see photo). The passion fruit flavours were very intense (19/20).

Coffee was very good, served with a jelly of lychee, granita of champagne and a lolly of eucalyptus (which tasted like an odd mixture of mint and cough mixture!). Finally there was a passion fruit jelly, a marshmallow of orange flower, a raspberry powder and a rhubarb sorbet. This tasting menu cost EUR 170 without the coffee. Overall this was a very fine meal. It was modern yet still respected the seasons, and generally had flavours that were innovative but harmonious. The any less talented chefs today who practice this type of cooking could do worse than come here and see how it should be done.

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  • Dilip Van Waetermeulen

    There used to be a time when Sluis was best known for the many Belgians traveling there to cash in their interest on bearer bonds tax free, but no longer so...Now Sluis has become world-famous thanks to the out of this world cooking of the ever busy and unstoppable Sergio Herman at Oud Sluis. Modern but warm interior and the same can be said off the staff... They somehow have this typical Dutch talent of delivering excellent service but with a relaxed, please feel at home twist.....; The food is without any doubt stunning....Superb products, focus on the main ingredient...An elegant ballet of flavors, textures...Visual delight with superb dishes plated by the hand of a true master....If there really needs to be said something ever so slightly negative about this restaurant, one could argue that sometimes, there are just too much different flavors in one plate...BUT, unlike in other restaurants, that prove to be mere sad sad copies of this one, all flavors do work well together....It's just that, in my humble opinion, 7 or 8 different flavors are enough....more than that and it becomes difficult to make the difference.... Great wine list too..... Still my favorite restaurant of all....Respect to Sergio and his team.....Sadly, he will stop with this restaurant....only he knows when, but he will....Sign of a true genius, always looking to push the boundaries, always up for a new challenge??

  • Pierre

    hey :D

  • Cameron Clark

    There are some well regarded places in Holland that also feature a lot of modern cooking and presentation techniques - Ron Blauw (2*) and 't Browerskolkje (1*) being possibly the most well known. For all their inventiveness though, they miss the added bonus the Sergio brings: balance. The 2 highlights of my meal here in May were a to die for langoustine, served in a classic dish with turbot, and a perfect piece of roasted lamb, with a mustard crust. Sure the dazzle of the tomato dish and the deconstructed risotto impressed, but here was someone who could play with the new toys and still cut it when it came to the more traditional aspects. Only down parts for me were the bread, which did not seem to be baked to order, and the split dining room, which meant we were alone for the 1st hour of our meal. Still the wine arrangement is good value, the wine waiter knows his stuff and the overall level of service is good. Its 40 minutes on the bus from Brugge, so its possible to combine a visit to here with de Karmeleit as well.