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rotterdam

I was excited to go on maternity leave and finally have the time to sit at home, be lazy the entire day and still get paid. But I lasted only two days. Boredom and frustration forced me out of the house.

“Time. I didn’t have time.”

That was my excuse whenever I cancel my plans of visiting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. A real shame because I’ve missed several interesting exhibitions particularly Van Bosch tot Bruegel in 2015. Last week, I was finally able to go.

Located in Museumpark, Rotterdam’s art “centre”, Boijmans Van Beuningen is small compared to the more popular museums in Amsterdam like Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum.

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I’ve been seriously craving for tarte tatin for weeks but didn’t really got around finding a restaurant that serves a good one. But as luck would have it, an Instagram post from FG Bistro popped out on my feed while I got an invitation to go out for lunch.

FG Bistro is among Michelin chef François Geurds newest ventures. Located in the old Ivy (the former FG Restaurant) in the Rotterdam’s Lloydkwartier, this is where Chef FG started what is now his two-star restaurant. Our warm welcome immediately transported me back to that long lunch I had here many years ago. Ivy didn’t have a star then but the dining experience was already Michelin-worthy.

Because I came here for the tarte tatin, I ordered the chef’ three-course menu, which included gyoza, beef ragu and tarte tatin. The gyoza, like the ragu, didn’t taste as special as the other dishes at FG or FG Food Labs.  But I couldn’t complain because the meal already included a big serving of Belgian fries, oven-grilled vegetables and a small bowl of salad, all for €35.

My officemate ordered the cod with tomatoes as main course, which was nice if you don’t mix  it with the overpowering salty sauce. The salty sauce was very good however with bread slathered with a good amount of French butter. All three of Chef François restaurants serve good bread and even better French butter.

The tarte tatin? It was what I had been expecting and more – sweet slices of caramelized apple sitting on an airy bed of puff pastry. Delicious, even more delicious with a glass of Kir Royale.

Tarte tatin served with vanilla ice cream.

FG Bistro markets itself as an authentic French bistro. And it does serve bistro classics like escargot, oysters and tartare, with a nice selection of French wines. There was even foie gras on brioche, which I contemplated on ordering but decided against it because of the pregnancy situation.

Don’t be fooled however because the Asian influence is still very present in the menu. You can order a variety of dishes from different Asian countries like pork belly, okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) duck lumpia (one of my favourites) and tom kai. The portions aren’t meagre either. One order of that okonomiyaki can last the whole day.

The interior doesn’t feel like a real French bistro to me, not informal as Bistrot Du Bac for example and the clientele is more FG types. The ambiance does however with walls are adorned with drawings of scenes from Paris and huge French texts, big vases filled with fake flowers (I don’t like fake flowers) and unique hanging lamps. Being located in Lloydkwartier automatically makes FG Bistro hip as well.

The staff? As hospitable as Chef François himself. That’s probably one of the reason why his restaurant chain is on top of my favourite list.

Will I go back? Definitely, very often and very soon hopefully.

FG Bistro
Lloydstraat 204
3024 EA Rotterdam
+31 10 7470150
www.fgbistro.nl

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I’m very glad I gave Mevrouw Meijer, a tiny French bistro in Rotterdam Noord, a second chance.

My first visit was a disappointment. The black pudding with figs was served un-appetizingly in a purple plate on a bed of pale salad, the duck’s skin wasn’t crispy enough and the fish disappeared under the garnish of greens and tomatoes. The only thing that save that dinner from a becoming a total disaster was a pretty plate of Bretagne oysters, which I ate for dessert.

Lin and Tess were wrong,” I thought then, remembering the Dutch bloggers who raved about Mevrouw Meijer.

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There was a new menu. The waitress said they change it every two weeks or so. I was hesitant but it was close to where I work and I didn’t want to cook. I was tired from a busy work week. A truck has parked in the middle of the road in Zwart Janstraat so there was a traffic jam and I got temporarily deaf from all the tootering of irritated drivers. A mentally-challenged man threatened us while we were parking. The weather was miserable, like it was rainy season in the tropics. I was dying for alcohol and a warm meal.

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We were early. We literally had to knock on the door at 5:25pm because they only open from 5:30pm. The tables were not completely set. The chef was not yet ready. But they were friendly, always were. We immediately got a bowl of olives. And the wine list.

As usual, I had cremant de Loire while Robin ordered a primitivo.

You can order a 3-course meal for €34 or separately. Appetizers are €10/each, main course €20/each and the dessert, I think is also €10/each.

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I went for the poached egg in white wine sauce and mushrooms while Robin ordered the beef and oyster tartar. My poached egg was sooo good, I wiped the plate clean with their freshly-baked bread. The tartar was exceptional as well, and very pretty.

For mains, I had the chicken filet with plum and pancetta; moist and succulent French chicken in a bed of minced vegetables. Robin had pork tenderloin with chanterelle and green asparagus, also nice but not exceptional. We downed our mains with Merlot, house wine.

The main courses were served with lettuce in mustard sauce and the sinfully-good baby potatoes baked in butter, French butter, overwhelmingly aromatic, peppered with sea salt. I have to find that recipe.

I wanted dessert but I gorged myself on that buttered potatoes so I didn’t have room for sweets anymore. But Robin ordered the rice pudding with notes, walnuts and caramel sauce. Also unbelievably sumptuous but not cloying despite the caramel sauce.

For €98 including tip, we were full. If only we could roll ourselves home, we would have done so. If this menu would stay a little longer, I would certainly come back. I’m very curious about the octopus with artichoke and the milkshake with madeleines and Robin wanted to try the raspberry macaroons with raspberry ice cream.

Mevrouw Meijer
Gerard Scholtenstraat 37B,
3035 SC Rotterdam
010 466 3367
no website

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Do white tablecloths belong to a French bistro?

I didn’t think they do (maybe I’m just ignorant) so my first impression was that Bistrot du Bac got a bit confused with the decor. But looking at it from this photo above, it seems like those tablecloths were necessary to perk this place up a bit.

But the atmosphere is certainly French bistro, especially the decor – red leather bench, wooden chairs, menu written on the mirror, vintage French posters and the tiny, tiny dining space. A very informal and homey kind of dining – too homey maybe for the head waitress to give a big, unapologetic yawn despite having customers around. She was attentive but in a distant kind of way. The other middle-age waiter was warmer and friendlier.

Located in the infamous Katendrecht (Rotterdam’s former prostitute neighbourhood), I brought our intern to Bistrot du Bac for a little pick-me-up dinner. She’s been living  in Paris for the last four years and I thought she might appreciate a taste of her (adopted) home. I invited another colleague along and the staff were very kind to add another chair in our tiny table for two.

We were seated near the kitchen, right beside the stairs where orders were being ferried down to the main dining hall. It was very cramped but I guess that’s the best you can get when you bring another person along at the last minute. However I cannot help but notice that the table beside us, which could seat four people, remained empty the whole time we were dining. This from 6-8:30PM. Midway through our dinner, the restaurant became very noisy with the arrival of more customers, most I suspect are regulars based from the way they waved and chatted with the chef and the staff.

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But moving on, the food was, as expected, delicious French home-cooking. We all ordered the €34 three course meal, each course we could choose from the menu.

For appetizers we ordered terrine de campagne. For main course, duck leg with crispy skin and meat falling off the bones, served with Brussels sprouts and chestnut (delightful and heavy), beef with onion compote and bone marrow (to die for, literally) and garlic-herb chicken served in its own juice. They came with a side dish of lettuce with the same dressing as the French egg mayo, and a big plate of potatoes au gratin for everyone to share.

As house appetizers, we got oeufs dur mayonnais (French egg mayonnaise) and beef tartar with unlimited, freshly-baked bread.

Except for the lettuce, which I thought was a lazy excuse for a salad, everything brought to our table was simple and undeniably French, no pretensions and not trying to be haute at all. I imagined this is the kind of food you’re served with in French homes.

We downed our meal with a bottle of 2013 Beau chene grenache, its fruity sweetness complementing the savoury flavours.

BistrotdubacWhile my main course was already very impressive, what was unforgettable was my dessert – a sort of cake with salted caramel sauce oozing from the centre. Served with ice cream (vanilla I think), it was orgasmic, I tell you. I took my time with that cake (sorry for the crappy photo, my camera died) and if not for decency, I would have taken a bite from my colleague’s cake as well. If only for that, I’d go back again and again to Bistrot du Bac. Needless to say, I went home very happy.

But, do white tablecloths belong to a French bistro? Maybe According to my favourite Franchophile and food writer Paola Westbeek of La Douce Vie, they do.

 

Bistro du Bac
Sumatraweg 5
3072 Rotterdam
010 846 4859

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Craving for Bánh mì last Saturday but not wanting to go to Boguette again or spending too much at Little V, I asked Robin if we could try Pho Hanoi. This eatery (eetcafe) has the misfortune (or it can be a blessing in disguise) of being the direct neighbour of the popular Boguette, Rotterdam’s go-to place for bánh mì (meat-filled baguette). My husband didn’t even know its existence. I haven’t eaten here either but I was intrigued if it has the same owner.

Turned out not. Pho Hanoi is solely-owned by Viatnamese immigrant Huong Le (I’m not sure I wrote that right) and her daughter Mihn Le. It was sweet, old Huong Le who was serving us and she found it amusing that I was taking photos of my food. She was even very happy with it.

“Share it with your friends, on Facebook, so I will get more customers. I’m very happy, thank you.” She repeated these sentences, in heavily-accented Dutch, about three times during our visit. She said that they don’t have so many customers during the week. Obviously, diners only come in the weekends, Saturdays, especially because it is market day in Blaak.

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I was so excited when I saw Viatnamese coffee on the menu. She served it to us traditional-style so we were sort of present in the process. She brought in a mini coffee filter, put in on top of the glass with condensed milk and let the coffee drips for several minutes. After about five minutes, you get a layer of coffee on top of the milk. You need to stir it before adding crushed ice cubes. It was a rainy, Saturday morning and I was like a child watching in glee as Vietnamese coffee is being mixed in front of me. She showed us the coffee that she used, which she said is being planted in the North of the country. It smelled so sweet, like bitter chocolates. In the end, we finished three glasses. At €3,50 each, it was was more of less 1/3 of our bill.

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What we ordered in addition to three glasses of coffee:

Bun chà (Vietnamese vermicelli with fresh vegetables, meat and pork bbq wrapped in cha plu) which was more than enough for two people, Gỏi cuốn (fresh spring rolls stuffed with vermicelli, herbs and shrimp) and Broodje Thit dở (baguette with marinated pork). All dishes were delicious and fresh. Mother Huong Le said she prepares and cooks the dishes in the evening or the same morning (depending on the day) so she can serve them fast. With the market literally just outside her door, fresh ingredients are easily available. We paid €29 for the whole meal.

The most unforgettable in her eatery aside from the coffee?

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This pot of home-made chilli sauce which she makes using Madame Jeanette (or Surinaamse chilli as she calls it). I put three drops on my baguette and Mother Huong needed to bring a glass of cold water to our table right after I bite into my bread. My mouth was burning. If you dine there, be careful with that stuff.

We didn’t order any of her pho but I think I now know where to go next time I have a hang-over. That chilli sauce is sure to take away any kind of hang-over.

Pho Hanoi Vietnamese Restaurant
Botersloot 58A
3011 HJ, Rotterdam
010-8469308

NOT a sponsored post.

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