Back on the list after a year’s break, Jonnie Boer’s Zwolle restaurant is a stone’s throw from where he hunted and fished as a child. He knows his produce intimately and is keen to showcase it, having built a career out of championing local seasonal ingredients about two decades before it was fashionable to do so. His current menu is homage to the food produced in the surrounding area but there’s certainly room for global influences – monkfish comes encrusted with Middle Eastern baharat spices and mackerel belly paired unusually but successfully with cinnamon. Indeed, Boer is big on doing things differently: for example, he eschews the traditional citrus marinade for his take on ceviche and replaces it with tea, kombucha (a type of yeast) and vanilla. Later on, a combination of basil mayonnaise, tartare of beef and cream of oyster is served directly on to diners’ hands for a memorably tactile experience.
The chef’s wife, Therese, heads up front of house and is a trained viticulturist and wine aficionado. She takes her food and wine matching very seriously, often suggesting bold combinations. In some instances, Jonnie will even adjust a dish to improve a pairing. The 15th century Dominican abbey, in which De Librije is located, offers several cosy dining spaces: the main library restaurant, a private room upstairs or, best of all, the intimate vaulted kitchen below.