after a good 40-hour rest in berlin, it is time to take off again. i am already in frankfurt, but before i board for new adventures, i must not forget to drop this edition of gastro greatness.

during my recent trip to utrecht for the opening of the new music hall tivolivredenburg, i had the chance to take a break from the festivities just when the program became a tad too whatever in the middle of the evening.

thankfully, drieharingstraat, a favorite among utrecht locals to dine out, is only a few minutes removed from the tivoli. here, i discovered firma pickles, an easy, modest-looking restaurant with basic furniture and a big open kitchen. the place also goes by “burgers & wine” – which is, of course, exactly what you get here.

which doesn’t mean the menu is small. extensive options await, from more classical choices to rare treats like the gamba burger (red pepper-mango-chutney calamari, wakame & daikon root, avocado) or the wagyu & shiitake (wagyu beef, duxcelle of shiitake, tempura onion rings, mizuma with teriyaki dressing). the latter sounds like my choice? you bet it does!

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however, i got things going with a cheese assortement (morbier, petite doruvael, comté, reblouchon) – and was profoundly impressed when the waitress suggested a running order to digest the cuts and explained the character of every cheese. served with stolwijcker bread and several dips (including a port gelée!), this asked for some time. and still, the burger arrived fresh and glistening, finalized only after the cheese plank was done with.

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don’t expect details here: the burger was, you know it, delicious! what was even more impressive, though: when yours truly toppled over his glass of red wine (to take the grainy picture above), the mess was cleared up in mere seconds, and the glass replaced on the house – all of which was done with such charming grace that my embarassment faded into joy. when a few minutes later the chef himself came to the table and served a freshly grilled and topped upper half of the bun, i was speechless. it was positively mindnumbing, after having eaten at some of the most luxurious hotel restaurants in amsterdam only days before, to experience the most perfect service in a place which, at first glance, does not look like much.

by the way, the waitress’ name is anouk. if you happen to stop by at firma pickles, ask to be served by her and tip her like she’s the best waitress of the world. she might as well be.

and now – off to dubai!

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