French atmosphere with food that makes you lick your fingers

Just before the lockdown, a most adorable restaurant opened in Bosboom Toussaintstraat, which we mainly knew as ‘the birth canal’ of Amsterdam. This birth, yes yes silly pun, went anything but smoothly, the business had to close immediately. Too bad, it looked nice and we wanted to eat there. Gertrude, now open for three months, has that French I do not know what, you can see yourself sitting there with a pouty lip, hat and glass of bubbly in hand. The bar is a showpiece, old-fashioned wallpaper, dark brown bistro chairs around marble tables, dark, peeling window frames framing the open kitchen; Juliette Binoche is due to walk in at any moment. The clientele also seems to have walked away from a film set: beautiful, well-dressed young women, here and there a man. They do talk loudly, the acoustics leave a lot to be desired, that’s another point of attention.

Gertrude is one of the businesses of an enterprising trio including actor Géza Weisz, who dreamed of a solid catering base in addition to an uncertain existence in the film world and had to see that dream almost shattered due to the corona crisis.

Gertrude’s menu is just as attractive as her looks. There are dishes that you can share, the service advises us to order two dishes per person. We start by way of amuse-bouche with a bowl of Taggiasca olives with crispy fennel seed and drink crémant de Limoux (Luc Pirlet, 7.50), a fine, dry bubbles. This is followed by mackerel pâté (8.-), bone marrow with Dutch shrimps (12.-), beets with horseradish ricotta (13.-), sole with caper butter (14.-) and veal escalope with prosciutto and sage (15.50). The dishes come on beautiful French porcelain, the vintage cutlery is hidden in white linen, it looks neat. The operation itself is also to get through a ring.

The mackerel pâté is refined and nice and fresh due to the lemon zest and chervil and comes with warm, thinly sliced ​​baguette from Gebroeders Niemeijer, one of the best bread bakers in town. Bone marrow, indeed a bone on a plate, is so savory and heartwarming that we literally lick our fingers. It may look coarse, but the taste of warm marrow and salty shrimp is subtle and is even more emphasized by the pickled shallots.

In the meantime we have ordered a glass of house wine, Southern Italian catarrato (5,-), nice but rather oxidative and therefore it has a bit of a sherry taste. We like the sauvignon blanc from Touraine (Domaine Octavie, 7.50), a refined wine that goes well with sole and the dolcetto d’Alba (Elio Altare, 8.50), a full-bodied, earthy wine for the meat. That meat is a flattened veal escalope that is nicely fried rosé, we also know it as saltimbocca, extra attractive because of the slices of ham and sage that go with it. The outer bones of the soles fried perfectly in butter have been cut off to make it easier for the guests, the caper apples and grilled lemon provide the acidity. The roasted red and yellow beets are accompanied by unctuous, tangy horseradish ricotta and crispy puffed buckwheat – a nice contrast, but the bunch of lovage over it is too much of a good thing. They love lovage here, also called maggi plant, but it is typically something that you have to dose carefully.

The carbohydrate component has a harder time here, which elicits the sexist statement “real girl food” from the male table companion. However, the mood remains good enough to order a dessert that, according to the menu, we have to wait fifteen minutes for, because they are freshly baked: madeleines (7,-), warm madeleines! On the previous menu they came with vanilla cream, now with tonka bean cream, probably because the price of vanilla has gone through the roof. Too bad, because vanilla gives refinement, tonka bean smells a bit like vanilla, but also like baby salve and that is exactly what we no longer want to associate the Bosboom Toussaint with.

Small blemish on an otherwise wonderful evening, because everything with Gertrude is not only well thought out, but also well executed. Hat off!

Reviewer and journalist Rock Possel tests a restaurant in and around Amsterdam every week.