Imko Binnerts, master chef, and the most famous fish restaurateur in the Netherlands, has settled at the foot of the dunes in Wijk aan Zee, on the coast northwest of Amsterdam. He and his partner, wine specialist Cathy Moerdijk, welcome guests at Villa De Klughte, a chalet-style building with more than a century of history.
The restaurant is called Puur Zee, meaning Pure Sea, and serves a menu based on fish from the neighbouring North Sea. And it goes without saying that the dishes are accompanied by outstanding wines. You can stay the night on the floors above the restaurant. Don’t expect contemporary design or antique interiors – the rooms are romantic and cosy, and the beds are made up with Egyptian linen. On the other side of the dunes, around 300 metres away, is one of the widest beaches in the Netherlands.
It’s a real family beach, which also popular with kite surfers, so there’s always something to keep you entertained. There’s an outdoor swimming pool in Villa De Klughte’s garden. Wijk aan Zee is a 20-minute drive from historic Haarlem, and the centre of Amsterdam is 45 minutes away.
*In high season (15/6-30/9) €355 for 2
Chef Imko Binnerts has made his name as a master of fish cookery, creating modern dishes with a harmony of flavours. Cathy Moerdijk is responsible for the extensive and well-chosen wine list. In the atmospheric dining room, the 19th-century ceiling is lit by elegant chandeliers. In summer, you can have lunch or dinner on the terrace.
Dinner: Wednesday to Sunday, 6.30 – 9.00pm
Lunch: Thursday and Friday 12.00 – 2.00pm and Sunday 1.00 to 2.30pm
The bistro serves a variety of small and larger dishes, ranging from the traditional Dutch aperitif snack bitterballen to oysters and tasty fish dishes. In fine weather you can eat out on the terrace at the front of De Klughte.
The small but luxurious hotel bar with an open fire is open from 4.30pm. It serves a wide variety of wines by the glass. In fine weather you can sit on the terrace in front of the 19th-century villa.
A stay in Wijk aan Zee is all about beach, sea and dunes. Within ten minutes’ walk of this former fishing village, you can take off your shoes, feel the sand between your toes, and paddle in the sea. The North Holland Dune Reserve is a characteristic Dutch landscape between the North Sea and the inland towns and villages, and a wonderful area for walkers and cyclists. Stretching from Wijk aan Zee to Schoorl (with QL Hotel Merlet), the reserve is one of the largest in the Netherlands, with a 20 by 2.5 kilometre stretch of coastal nature to explore, on foot, by bike or on horseback. For art, culture and shopping, head for historic Haarlem, with the famous Teylers Museum (art and science) and Frans Hals Museum, renowned for its art collection from the Dutch 17th-century Golden Age, featuring works by painters such as Frans Hals, Willem Claesz. Heda, Jan Steen and Jacob van Ruisdael. Amsterdam is less than an hour’s drive away.