The brave & bold menu at Cucina Del Mondo turns out to be a long boring seat

“From now on I will address the seven senses: taste, smell, sight, hearing, touch, movement and yes, I want to unbalance them too.” Here speaks Servais Tielman, chef of Cucina Del Mondo in Heerlen. I had saved the article from a catering trade magazine at the end of last year, because I was so curious how it would disturb my vestibular system while eating? With a treadmill? swings? Skippy balls?

In the interview he talks about a new concept: there is a menu with classics (classiscs & faves), one with all the ‘latest inventions and ideas from the kitchen’ (brave & bold) and a combination of them. What you get served is not there. Not even in how many courses. “I have to have the space for my creativity”.

On the website, flashing images alternate with slick slow motion: dough falls, flour scatters, chef carries model, model licks plate, chef decisively points to the camera with raw octopus. The text below promises us: you are even invited to feel the texture of the beauty on your plate. And challenges us: do you dare to stimulate all your senses and be guided by our chef?

You understand, this is where we have to go.

The place is covered in graffiti, so we can’t call it stiff. Painted miners’ helmets on the wall throw strong beams of light on the cardboard that should tempt us to an oyster. We knew beforehand that a vodka red bull oyster is a bad idea. But we are here to be challenged. The chef also leaves no room for misunderstanding at the table: we will go on an adventure, our senses will be stimulated, we will taste, smell and touch.

Cucina del Mondo has a Michelin star. All usual suspects pass in review tonight: chic shrimps, scallops, expensive fish, foie gras, caviar, anjou pigeon. There is nothing to complain about the technical preparations: the pigeon may be a bit red (it just hasn’t flew away yet), but all the crustaceans and shellfish have not been cooked for a second too long, the structures of the ice cream, the foie-creme, the vegetables garnishes – all properly.

These luxury products may not be that surprising, but you can do exciting things with them. However, the chef has chosen to cover everything that is pronounced about it with sweetness. The fresh Dutch shrimps are in a kind of melted Solero ice cream made from mango gazpacho. The caviar disappears in a very sweet oliebol. The carabinero (the most expensive shrimp in the world) suffers from a rather strong anise flavour. The foie gras with salted coffee jelly is a tantalizing, savory combination that could rightly be called exciting. But with such a dollop of sweet stroopwafel ice cream on top, every toddler likes it.

Bisque from a shell

What’s really exciting tonight? That we drink bisque from a shell with herbs glued on the edge. An unabashed copy of the opening dish of the fish menu that the world-famous Noma in Copenhagen served earlier this year. That the sliced ​​pigeon fillets are served in the flank of the roast bird. That’s exactly how I ate a duck two years ago. At Noma.

By far the most daring are the ants. What do we know that from? Correct. At Noma they use ants instead of lemon – ants are nice and sour. In São Paulo, Alex Atala serves tropical Amazonian ants because they are aromatic like ginger and lemongrass. We will never know what the South African ants from Venlo taste like, because they are drowned in a large spoonful of mango puree with, wait for it… popsicle sugar: the biggest mortal sin in a serious kitchen. Here they really did everything they could to divert all the attention from the ants. Eyes closed. Take a gulp. And retelling tomorrow at the coffee machine.

The menu is a parade of 22 small bites. I like that, but here it gets a long boring seat

Barnacles, I actually never see them in the Netherlands. That’s exciting and original. Just like the game between savory and sweet in the dessert appetizer of raspberry paste with parmesan. But it’s not enough.

It brave & boldmenu is a parade of a total of 22 small bites. I like that. But serving flavor parades is a fine art. The chief has to play conductor. It must have a cadence, I must be constantly stimulated. The pace has to be right – it shouldn’t sag, but I shouldn’t be rushed either. It requires a delicate flow. There isn’t one. It will be a long boring session.

We’re really not having a bad meal at Cucina’s. And of course the average Dutch person does not visit Noma every year, so it is nice to drink soup from a shell. But it is window dressing – from the pipette with the olive oil, the tweezers with the amuse-bouche, to the ants with fucking icing sugar. An original thought, authenticity is missing. And so it gloriously succumbs to its own whipped-up pretentiousness. Because in what way are my senses really stimulated differently than in any other restaurant? what is here now brave & bold at?

I’ll tell you: a bill of almost 400 euros. Yes, we were there ourselves, we ordered a menu of 129 euros per person. Luxury ingredients are expensive, come on. But for this money, I shouldn’t be bored for a second. If we really wanted to disturb our vestibular system, we would have paid even more. Madame only drank an aperitif and two lemonades, Mr. four glasses of wine and a digestif. After four and a half hours of anticlimax, we skipped the coffee.