Hygge, You're Out. Gezellig, You're In: Holborn Has A New Dutch Restaurant

Gezellig ★★★★☆

By Lydia Manch Last edited 10 months ago

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Hygge, You're Out. Gezellig, You're In: Holborn Has A New Dutch Restaurant Gezellig 4

Our friend's looking at Holborn's new, Dutch-influenced restaurant with suspicious eyes. Suspicious Dutch eyes, and a few quiet protests about what she considers a baffling lack of raw herring, mayo and-or raw onion on the menu.

Gezellig sports a Dutch name — means 'atmosphere allowing good times to happen'; correct pronunciation involves a lot of guttural vigour — but the menu's a Dutch-ish, modern European take on fine dining, rather than a trad-herringfest.

Suspicions get less vocal on sight of the meat-forward, offal-tinged menu. A starter of duck heart and livers with turnip and sorrel would be a highlight — delicately, softly meaty, far less bullish than the organs-and-root-veg combination sounds on paper — if it weren't so totally eclipsed by the mackerel arriving at the same time. Seared, oily fish, white beetroot, wobbly with aged beef fat and blobs of bone marrow; it's all elegant plating on the one hand, massive, swaggering smack of flavour on the other.

The swagger shouldn't be surprising; the Gezellig Instagram favours a higher than usual proportion of chefs-handling-carcasses vs. pretty flat-lays of food. (A snoop through their feed also reveals Metallica, known fans of both good-time-atmospheres and meat, recently chose Gezellig for their afterparty.)  

Bitterballen: lovechild of a meatball and croquetas

A main of rare lamb, beans and gooseberry is equally elegant, equally good at looking not-quite-enough on the plate (especially for the prices: mains are £25-£30, starters £12-£15), but packing a hell of a lot of richness and tartness into its haute-cuisine size.

But the barsnack and dessert menus are where all the reasonably-priced and most alluring (often fried) things are happening.

Bitterballen, the Dutch lovechild of meatballs and croquetas, can be either brilliantly satisfying or unmemorably bland: Gezellig's suckling pig bitterballen are on the brilliant side, topped with sweet mustard, a fiver on the barsnack menu for a plate of four. Those and the canéles we have for dessert — rum and vanilla; breadier, more fibrous centres, than the usual flan-like softness, still great; also £5 for four — are enough to make us regret the reaches of the snacks/desserts menu we didn't hit this time. Cheddar and pickled nut gougères, we're looking at you.

The restaurant doesn't quite have the crowded, slight-rowdiness yet that the gezellig name hints at — the high ceilings, highish prices and formalish service mean that even busy, it's probably going to feel more like the anonymous, happy clamour of a grand brasserie than a big communal knees-up. But it's packing an excellent, if pricey, a la carte, and a spotlight-stealing and far less pricey set of barsnacks. Gezellig's menu thoroughly won us over — even the Dutch among us.

Gezellig, Holborn Hall, 193-197 High Holborn, WC1V 7BD.

Last Updated 16 August 2019