Karel 5: Heritage in a Fashionable Outfit

We were recently invited to celebrate the rebranding of the Grand Hotel Karel V restaurants and catering: Karel 5 Bistro, Gastro, and Events. With the promise of lunch, the opportunity was just too good to pass up!

Heritage

The hotel is tucked away in the heart of the city centre and boasts a beautiful courtyard. The main building was built in the 1300s and served for centuries as a monastery before later being used as a hospital. Then, after intense renovations, it opened its doors as the Karel V in 1999.

The celebrations began with Champagne and a look at the restaurant rebranding. Gone is the classic V in the restaurants’  names. Instead, they’ve chosen a modern 5 to refresh their image. But the focus is still, as ever, on the quality of the food and dining experience – and we learned that for ourselves!

Karel 5 Bistro: Casual Classic

We were led into the Karel 5 Bistro (formerly Brasserie Goeie Louisa), which serves up delicious and surprisingly affordable lunch, dinner, and drinks. The bistro is modestly decorated, with red brick floors and wooden tables that let the food speak for itself.

Soon the first of many delicious courses was brought out: creamy burrata cheese, earthy beets, rich basil oil, blackberries, and beech nuts (the 5 Bs).

Guys. This was sensational. It was one of those dishes that you eat extra slowly because it’s just so good that you can’t bring yourself to finish it. Thankfully, just as I was approaching the inevitable last bite, a second course hit the table. Truffle ravioli en papillote: plump ravioli in a cream sauce, neatly wrapped up in a cute little package. As the ties were undone, the most incredible scent of truffle and cheese and general deliciousness wafted up towards us, and the group fell quiet until we’d devoured every morsel – and mopped our plates clean with bread, for good measure.

Restaurant Karel 5: Elegant Dining

Next was the Restaurant Karel 5, the hotel’s fancier offering. It has a decidedly grander feel, with high ceilings and dazzling chandeliers. This is the sort of place you go to for a special occasion or to spoil someone you love.

Here we were served a re-vamped Dutch classic: a beautifully plated, ultra-modern hutspot. It was almost too pretty to eat!

All too soon, it was time for dessert. We were ushered into the kitchen where chef Vito Reekers handed us golden boxes and glasses of dessert wine. Inside each box was a heavenly little work of edible art called Valrhona Dulcey starring macadamia, salted caramel, and 20-carat gold (seriously). I got as much out of that box as I possibly could with my fork, but let me tell you: had I been alone, I would have stuck my face right in there and not wasted a crumb.

In case you couldn’t tell, we had a fantastic time. Next time you’re in the area, stroll through the courtyard and take a peek at the Karel 5 menus – there’s bound to be something there with your name on it! You can also find all information here.

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About Sophie Boisvert-Hearn

Sophie is a freelance editor with a master's in Media Studies. She hails from Toronto but has lived in Groningen, Leiden, and The Hague, and now happily calls Utrecht home. Besides eating, thinking about eating, and buying & making food, her hobbies include travel and writing. Her idea of the perfect day in Utrecht includes a lot of coffee, a friend or four, copious amounts of pastries, and a stroll around the city's gorgeous streets and canals – all topped off, naturally, with drinks on a terrace. Surprisingly knowledgeable about kaasstengels.

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