Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes, but they always have a few things in common: tables, chairs, a kitchen, and a menu. But in Brabant there’s one restaurant that‘s turning that idea on its head. They have tables, chairs, and a kitchen, but what you won’t find here is any trace of a menu.
I'm talking about Taste bij Dirk in Den Bosch. Dirk and his team work in a fully menu-free environment. You just tell them in advance how many courses you want to eat and make sure they’re aware of your dietary needs, and the chefs will surprise you with a parade of delicious dishes. That means both a night out without the stress of deciding what you want, and minimal food waste, making them far more sustainable than your average restaurant. And at Taste bij Dirk, they always use seasonal ingredients.
Dirk Hover, owner of Taste bij Dirk, started out with Wijnbar bij Dirk. It’s still going strong, just across the street from the restaurant. It's a fantastic spot for a glass of wine before dinner. Tell Dirk what you love and he'll pour you a glass of your dream wine. Taste bij Dirk serves delicious wines, too, and sommelier Lisa Wong knows exactly which wine pairs well with which flavours.
The kitchen at Taste bij Dirk is half open, so you can see the chefs preparing the dishes they revamp on a weekly basis. There is no bar, but there are 2 working islands right in the middle, so as a guest, you’re front and centre for the experience.
As the dishes change weekly, what ends up on your table is always a surprise. But I’ll tell you about a few of the things we enjoyed to give you an idea of what you can expect. We started with an Indian snack called Pani Puri filled with a root vegetable salad and green herb cream. My dining companion had tuna tartar and a sirloin steak with beef stew, potato gratin, and red wine gravy. As a vegetarian, I ate fettuccine with zucchini and saffron and a parsnip salad with a cream of cashew nuts and mushrooms.
It was impressive how well my dishes matched my taste and my friend’s matched hers. It’s also great that not eating meat is not a problem at Taste bij Dirk. All my vegetarian dishes were just as good as the meat and fish dishes.
Taste bij Dirk is affiliated with Noord Brabant Culinair (North Brabant Culinary), a restaurant association that protects and promotes Brabant’s unique culinary heritage. There are plenty of restaurants affiliated with Noord Brabant Culinair that like to surprise their guests. Restaurant Bochica, for instance, also has a Chef's Menu, where the chef will craft a menu based on your tastes.
The next time you go out for dinner in Brabant, take a look at the Noord Brabant Culinair website to see a list of member restaurants. You’re guaranteed a fantastic meal!
Anne Travel Foodie
Anne de Graaf is a travel and food blogger at annetravelfoodie.com. Visit her website and social media channels, where she’s Anne de Graaf is a travel and food blogger at annetravelfoodie.com. Visit her website and social media channels, where she’s always exploring everything Brabant has to offer.