De Leest *** | Vaassen (NL)

De Leest cuisine and their way of working is best described as
organic, creative, inventive, aromatic and brightly sour. An abundance of perfection!

Restaurant De Leest is located in the quiet village of Vaassen (NL) on the edge of the nature reserve known as The Veluwe, which is often referred to as the green heart of The Netherlands. The abundance of the fields and the many rivers in the region are reflected in the chef’s cooking philosophy, and a wide variety of different herbs, vegetables, fishes and meats are used in the dishes.

The modern look and feel of the outside and inside of the restaurant shows no traces of the old shoe factory it was before owners (and couple) Jacob Jan Boerma and Kim Veldman transformed it and opened De Leest in the Summer of 2002. The interior is stylish, open and light, a Scandinavian comfortable chic with leather placemats instead of white linen. All adding to an informal atmosphere.

De Leest received their first Michelin star in 2003, just a year after they opened. The second followed in November 2007, and since 2014 the restaurant holds three Michelin stars, making De Leest the fourth restaurant in Dutch history to receive a third Michelin star, after De Librije in Zwolle (2004), Oud Sluis in Sluis (2006, now closed) and Parkheuvel in Rotterdam (2002, now two stars after Head Chef Cees Helder retired in 2006).

Head Chef Jacob Jan Boerma trained in the kitchens of renowned Dutch Michelin starred restaurants, such as De Bokkedoorns in Overeen (2 Michelin stars), De Nederlanden in Loenen (then 2 Michelin stars), Kaatje bij de Sluis in Blokzijl (then 2 Michelin stars), and at Restaurant Scholteshof in Stevoort, Belgium (then 2 Michelin stars). Maitre D’ Kim Veldman started an internship at De Librije in Zwolle when she was just 16 years of age. After that she worked at De Librije (3 Michelin stars), De Nederlanden (1 Michelin star) in Loenen and De Hoefslag (1 Michelin star) in Bosch en Duin..

De Leest is open for lunch on Thursday and Friday and for dinner on Tuesday to Saturday. Next to an à la carte menu (which is not used on Friday and Saturday) they also offer a 4-course Lunch Menu (at €92), a 5-course Flora & Fauna Menu (at €145), a 6-course Menu (at €158) and a a 7-course Micri Menu (at €172). Actually you should add 2 courses to the dinner menu’s as they count dessert as one course, while you get three. They also offer wine pairing with full or half glasses both at very reasonable prices. UK restaurants should follow this example as they now just charge full prices when asking for half glasses.

We visited De Leest two weeks ago on a Friday evening and chose the Micri Menu, with (half glass) wine pairing which gives a half a glass of wine with every course.

Amuse Bouches

We started of with a wonderful array of amuse bouches. On the left a macaron with curry and on the right filo with peanut and white beet. The macaron was melt-in-the-mouth with an explosion of curry flavours. The filo a crunchy mouthful of Indonesian flavoured delightfulness.

Amuse Bouches

The next one was smoked eel and cheese, with a hint of ginger. The crispy cannelloni giving a nice texture together with the creamy inside. Delicious.

Amuse Bouches

On the left slow cooked salmon, watermelon and aubergine and on the right onion baba ganoush with a foam of soy sauce. Two perfect amuse bouches. The onion baba ganoush looked simple, but a carefully balanced complexity of flavours, just like the other amuses as well. What a joy to eat.

Amuse Bouches

And the last one. Mushroom bouillon, ravioli with black truffle and onion. Packed with flavour again. Especially the black truffle ravioli was to die for.

Sea Bass, White Asparagus & Seaweed

Lightly pickled and marinated sea bass with textures of white asparagus, jus of seaweed, ponzu-kaffir mousseline and coriander vinaigrette. Fresh, clean and green flavours. What a great balance of flavours and taste. Sweet, sour, salt and bitter balanced to perfection. The White Gold (as we call white asparagus in The Netherlands) done justice together with the beautifully cured sea bass.

As Joanne doesn’t eat cold fish, she got the same dish but without the sea bass. And the flavours and taste were just the same. It didn’t feel it missed anything at all. But on my plate the sea bass really played the lead role. What a clever dish!

Langoustine & Physalis

Roasted langoustine with physalis, divers carrots, a light Eastern jus of red pepper, ginger, kaffir leaf and lemongrass. Asian flavours set the tone for the fresh, meaty, perfectly roasted langoustines. What an absolute joy again! Warming flavours with lemongrass adding freshness. Beautiful dish to look at and to eat!

Dutch Coast Turbot

Turbot lacquered with vadouvan, different cauliflower textures with a fresh salad, tarragon vinaigrette, beurre noisette and lime. Turbot perfectly seasoned, nice green salty herbs, shaved raw cauliflower adding just that bit of crunch, nuttiness of the beurre noisette and a hint of curry at the end. Flavours never overpowering the turbot, just complementing it.

Lobster, Green Peas & Fennel

Lobster prepared with lime, crémeux of green peas with a fresh salad of fennel and champignon, avocado, Summer savoy and young lettuce leaves. Perfect cuisson of the lobster. Sweet & sour combination to perfection again. Fresh peas, lavas jus, fennel and champignon mushrooms, all so light and delicate. Amazing how every element on the plate plays it’s part with pride.

Boi Goose Liver, Rhubarb & Spices

Press of bio goose liver with rhubarb, shots of sea buckthorn and passionfruit, crispy spices with vinaigrette of ginger. Crémeux of goose liver with crispy 5 spice. Rhubarb cream and passionfruit adding complexity. An explosion of flavour, but leaving the goose liver still in charge of the dish. Heaven! And the star dish of the evening.

Beef, Japanese Miso & Sambal

Shortly roasted beef with a cream of miso, fermented algae, Eastern glazed asparagus with crispy potato and a jus of sambal. Perfect beef with fermented seaweed bringing saltiness. Amazing dimension together with the Japanese vinegar in the miso and the sambal (traditional Indonesian chilli sauce). A comforting, yet inspiring dish with such a symphony of flavours.


Pineapple with Jasmine tea and a hint of liquorice. Popping sensation in the mouth because of the added space dust (popping candy). Nice palette cleanser.

Airy Bombe of Cottage Cheese, Coconut & Rose Water

Airy bombe of cottage cheese with different preparations of coconut and lemon with essence of rose water and a jelly of lime and mint. Different variations of coconut bring different textures in an harmony of flavours with every spoonful, with the cream cheese bringing it all together. Little balls of white chocolate filled with rose water bursting in the mouth. What an amazing dish. Again!

Strawberry, Anise & Shiso Purper

Divers preparations of strawberries, ice-cream of fennel seed and sweet anise powder, jus of shiso purper and crémeux of white chocolate. Sweet strawberries in different appearances, with the mousse molded into a strawberry shape, sorbet and fresh green and red strawberries. Star anise sorbet was beautifully delicate. The jus of shiso purper adding a hint of cumin working surprising well with the strawberries. This dessert is a recent creation and can definitely stay on the menu!

Green Apple, Lemon & Celery

Airy mousse of lemon and yoghurt with green apple and celery textures. Fresh green apple taste and flavour. Sorrel mousse beautifully light and smooth. Such nice mouth feels and taste sensations.


With the coffee, a big display of mignardises arrived. Please note this was only for me! A passionfruit macaron, chocolate ganache, meringue with raspberry, feuilletine with chocolate and more! I liked the variety and attention to detail, but most of all the tastes, textures and flavours. I must admit, I ate them all and I loved all of them (which is certainly not always the case). What a marvellous ending of a perfect dinner.

I enjoyed every dish to the fullest, couldn’t fault any of them. My favourites being the sea bass, goose liver and the green apple, but only with short distance from the other courses. What I specifically like is that Jacob Jan Boerma has his own style of cooking which is very noticeable throughout the whole menu. The emphasis on fresh and sour notes is not only very pleasant to taste, but really make him stand out from others.

Lady of the house Kim Veldman and her team create an open, intimate and informal atmosphere, which is enhanced by the layout of the dining room. The whole makes you feel relaxed and offers the ideal environment for a great meal. Wines are presented by Kim and she prefers to work with mainly European and organic wines. Great selection and perfectly paired with the dishes.

Without losing sight of his Dutch roots, Jacob Jan Boerma adds fresh tones, sour accents and spices to his dishes, which bring balance and excitement to the taste and are the signature of his cooking style. No spectacular plating here, just impeccable dishes. De Leest cuisine and their way of working is best described as organic, creative, inventive, aromatic and brightly sour. An abundance of perfection!