otterdam has this not-so-little secret spot for families, hidden in one of its swanky neighbourhood, Hillegersberg. While I have frequented this area to dine out, I only discovered Plaswicjkpark of late. Because why else would one go here if one doesn’t have an offspring?
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.
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.
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.
3024 EA Rotterdam
+31 10 7470150
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.
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.
While 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
010 846 4859
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A working mom who run marathons, cooks, blogs and travels on weekends. Sharing #reallife stories.