Monday, September 10, 2012

Dining in a medieval vaulted cellar in Utrecht: Humphreys

One of the great MUST DO when in Utrecht is to dine in a medieval vaulted cellar. Because the core centre of Utrecht is famous for its old canal called the ‘Oudegracht’ that is skirted with ‘werfkelders’ (vaulted cellars) dating back to circa 1150-1300. There are more than 700+ werfkelders and a number of them are now converted into restaurants.

And because my cousin from the Philippines—let’s call her Dr. Balin (she might look young and small but she is really a passionate doctor in her mid 40’s!) is in town, I thought it would be the best excuse to visit the new addition to the
Humphreys chain of restaurants, the Oudegracht Utrecht branch located in a werfkelder.

The décor and interior design theme of Humphreys Utrecht are Moulin Rouge inspired staged in a network of brick vaulted cellars along the canal of Utrecht. We really adored the ambiance of this restaurant. I mean, I was totally enthralled looking at the vaults and arches! The place is so lovely and intriguing, it’s one of those special dining locations that leaves a lasting impression on you.

However, sadly, the food is a bit of a miss. I can taste the oil from a snackbar on the food. The food are not really freshly-made. I am guessing--frozen and warmed/cooked? My expectations were quite high but for a 3-course dinner worth EUR 23,95 per person (they only serve 3-course meals, this is their signature) there is really not much to truly expect. Perhaps I allowed myself to be misled by its extravagant looking red interior. I chose this restaurant anyway because of its unique historical location and architecture, as well as its impressive interior.

Moreover, they have relatively big servings, and they serve many side dishes (appelmoes, frites and green salad) with the main course. I just thought it was too much. Dr. Balin and I didn’t even finish our meals, except for the starter. Such a waste.

Cousin Dr. Balin's starter: Beef carpaccio with rucola, pesto, parmesan and roasted pine nuts. My starter: Japanese style shrimps with shuka wakame (seaweed) and citrus fruit soya sauce.

My main: Baked salmon filet with summer potato mix, grilled paprika and shallot beurre blanc. Dr. Balin's main: Mixed grill - a stick of Angus beefsteak, pork and chicken with rösti, onion compote and garlic sauce.

The hallways inside the vaulted cellar restaurant.

Our desserts: Dr. Balin had Mango-, citron- and strawberry sorbet with fruit sauce and whipped cream while I had the Panacotta with Amaretti-cookies, dried prunes and Amaretto.

The verdict: Food is 3.5 stars out of 5. Service was very good though. Kortom, this is a flashy restaurant has a level of a high-end eetcafe.

Humphreys Restaurant is great if you are not a picky eater and if you are awfully hungry! But don't get us wrong, we loved the place, just that the food could have been better. I will come back here to have drinks at their bar but not to eat.

At any rate, it was a beautiful experience to eat in a Moulin Rouge inspired medieval vaulted cellar.

Visit Period: September 2012
Destination: Utrecht (Utrecht), The Netherlands

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