Eat Michelin-Starred Cuisine in an Old Dutch Seaside Resort | The Wanderlist 2019
A meal at groundbreaking seaside restaurant Pure C should be top of your list for 2019
What? Pure C is an inventive, forward-thinking restaurant based in a refurbished sixties holiday resort.
Where? Pure C, Cadzand-Bad, Netherlands.
Why? Northern European seaside resorts often conjure up a drab image: weather-beaten wood and concrete; dry grass and dirty sand; empty promenades and an all-pervading sense of faded glory. But when Syrco Bakker came across the building that now houses Pure C, in the Dutch beach town of Cadzand-Bad, he saw something different. Instead of past glories, Bakker saw potential. And so with the guidance of his mentor Sergio Herman (formerly of the three Michelin-starred Oud Sluis), he set about transforming this unassuming modernist beach hotel into a true destination restaurant.
In typical Dutch fashion, the interior of the restaurant is extraordinarily forward-thinking and modern - all candles, and glass, and low chairs. Refined, but unpretentious. In the middle stands a large centre-piece made of haggard, contorted driftwood. You are at the beach, after all. This interior design sets the tone for the meal itself, which is both classically Dutch and yet utterly international; clever and daring, yet familiar and comforting.
Bakker uses Pure C to champion Zeeland, the province around Cadzand, and its produce - but on the plate, Bakker does draws upon cooking techniques from all over the world. It is not uncommon to see inflections from Japanese cuisine - nori, dashi, tempura - employed with coastal shrimp, and thick wings of skate.
Bakker himself has Indonesian roots, and is not averse to riffing on classic Indonesian dishes like Soto Ayam (chicken soup), by pairing tender chicken breast and raw razor clam with gently-cooked, oozing quails eggs, turmeric-spiked rice cakes, and piquant homemade sambal (chilli paste).
Pure C, unsurprisingly, was awarded its first Michelin star early on, and has kept it ever since. Meanwhile Bakker has continued to evolve his cuisine, drawing hungry patrons from all over Europe to try his daring, intelligent dishes. Be sure to book some time in advance; this well-kept secret is starting to spread.
When? Spring/summer is probably the best for coastal weather, but winter storms can also make the windswept landscape of Zeeland look dramatic. The best time to go really, is whenever you can get a table.
How? A flight or train to Bruges, followed by the 40 minute drive from Bruges to Cadzand (which is in the southernmost point of the Netherlands, close to the Belgian border), will get you there. Head to the Pure C website for reservations.