Holland might not be the first country springing to mind when one contemplates a gastronomic break, a food adventure. No, we muse on France, as their dishes are classic and the quality is legendary (some legends owe more to fantasy than fact); then there is New York with its perennial edgy vibe. Tempting, but one seems to spend so much time airport-queuing; how’s about Asia? A good choice but no good for a short trip. We do have Rotterdam though!
So where does Holland figure in the delicious calculation? The food is world-class. The waiters are polite. It’s not far away. It’s great value for money. No jet lag. But isn’t it all cheese? No, indeed there is everything the culinarily enlightened would to hope to find in any country, and more than one might find in some.
My focus was Rotterdam and I had no idea what to expect. In fact there are restaurants here to suit every taste and every pocket although even the high-end eateries seem reasonably priced by London standards. Las Palmas is a contemporary restaurant that is famed for its seafood. It’s the domain of celebrity chef Herman den Blijker. Guests might find this bear of a man circulating throughout his restaurant, between tables that one would be advised to reserve. The meat dishes here are also creditable but it’s a shame to miss such fine fish. Dinner here is a casual yet memorable event.
3072 AR Rotterdam
Phone +31 10 213 2011
Visit Las Palmas here
Rotterdam neighbourhoods still boast historic buildings attesting to its vibrant past, and one can enjoy a metaphoric taste of those days at The New York Hotel. The menu is eclectic and modern but the building was once a shipping office for a line that carried emigrants to a better life in the New World. A visit here is a must for anyone who wants to soak up some charming ambiance. Sunday brunch is buzzy, and afternoon tea might be welcome after a boat tour of the port. Plenty of ocean-liner memorabilia dotted around the public spaces, and the guest rooms are stunning!
Hotel New York
3072 AD Rotterdam
Phone: +31 10 439 0500
visit Hotel New York here
Asia has long had a relationship with Holland. The Dutch East India Company was active throughout the region of Malaysia and Indonesia, so the Dutch have an historic appreciation of all good Asian food. Anyone who wants to taste some of the best Chinese dishes in Rotterdam will book lunch or dinner at Asian Glories, where owners Jenny Fan Loh and chef S P Fan and family will invite you to experience an ever-changing menu. Restaurant guide SpecialBite has named Asian Glories as one of their top 10 restaurants in Rotterdam.
3011 AL Rotterdam
Phone: +31 10 411 7107
Visit Asian Glories here
Holland has long been famed for its chocolate and cocoa powder, which is still sometimes referred to as ‘Dutch Processed’. In 1828 chemist Coenraad van Houten invented a process for extracting cocoa butter from raw cocoa, allowing the separation of cocoa powder. This gave chocolate a more consistent texture, and made it less costly to produce. This opened the door to chocolate bar manufacturers.
One can enjoy a chocolate masterclass at Chocoholic in Rotterdam. These classes can be booked for small groups of 6 or more potential chocolatiers. You will learn how to make your own hand-dipped chocolates and how to decorate and present in a chocolate basket. If your efforts are a bit misshapen then buy some professionally-made treats in the shop adjoining the kitchen studio. A masterclass here will be engaging fun for the whole family.
Phone: +31 10 218 3014
But I did mention cheese, and the Dutch are justifiably proud of their products. De Kaashoeve is a shop to gladden the heart of every lover of good cheese. Located at the Oude Binnenweg this dairy boutique is hard to miss – it’s got a cow outside. No, not a real one but a full-sized homage to the mother of milk. It’s not just local cheeses that line the shelves here but those from other European countries too. The staff are knowledgeable and can point you in the direction of a suitable selection for an iconic cheeseboard, or some savoury wedges as gifts. It’s not only cheese on show at De Kaashoeve but all those things that act as garnishes for a spread of cheese. It’s a shop in which to linger and nibble. Enjoy!
Oude Binnenweg 95a
Phone: +31 10 413 8644
Mon 12:00 – 18:00
Tue – Fri 09:00 – 18:00
Sat 09:00 – 17:00
Rotterdam has a world-renowned and celebrated fish shop and a visit here should be on everyone’s list of must-dos. This isn’t a fish-and-chip shop so you won’t be spending hours lurking by the gherkins. This is both a wet-fish shop and a fish deli. Schmidt Seafood is found in the heart of Rotterdam near to one of its most famous landmarks, the Erasmus Bridge. It’s the Number One supplier to the high-end restaurants in the Netherlands and you can taste their goods here without a high-end price tag.
Schmidt has its own smoke-house for salmon and eels. They offer marinated herring and a lesson on how to eat them. One can enjoy an oyster on the half-shell while sipping a glass of something light, white and refreshing. A visit here is an event!
Schmidt Seafood Rotterdam
3011 BM Rotterdam
Visit Schmidt Seafood here
But you will need a place to lay your travel-weary head at the end of a full day in this exciting city. Quartier du Port is well located for walking and taking the extensive metro system. It’s a boutique hotel of both character and quality. It was once a shipping office and retains so many original features. The bedrooms are comfortable, well appointed, with acres of space. It’s your good fortune that as a guest you will take advantage of a delicious breakfast, with baked goods from the shop next door (which is in fact associated with the hotel). Don’t miss the slices of freshly made cakes, as those Rotterdam attractions beckon and one will need the energy for another full day.
Hotel Quartier du Port
Van Vollenhovenstraat 48-50
3016 BJ Rotterdam
Phone +31 10 240 0425
Visit Hotel Quartier Du Pont here
Travel review by Chrissie Walker © 2018