FOOD / RESTAURANTS
Rotterdam’s culinary world has made enormous progress over recent years. The Parkheuvel restaurant near the Euromast has for years been one of Rotterdam’s arbiters of taste – literally. Under master chef Cees Helder, the restaurant was awarded no fewer than three Michelin stars. At the moment, with Helder’s successor Erik van Loo at the helm, it has two Michelin stars. These, though, are not the only stars in Rotterdam’s culinary firmament. The French cuisine of master chef Fred Mustert at his restaurant Fred has also earned two Michelin stars. The same goes for master chef François Geurds’ FG Restaurant where he experiments with molecular gastronomy. The Wereldmuseum and Amarone restaurants have one Michelin star each.
Rotterdam counts 170 nationalities among its residents. Each has its own food culture. The range of cuisine can be seen in the city’s restaurants. Italian, Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese, Greek, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian; the port city has a restaurant for pretty much every country. Two roads, Kruiskade and Witte de Withstraat, are good places to go in search of multicultural food.
Deliplein square on the Katendrecht peninsula, called ‘De Kaap’ by locals, has been busy establishing itself as a culinary hotspot over the last few years. This is an attractive square where you can sit and enjoy the summer on terraces run by a good mix of restaurants. Other culinary hotspots worthy of note are the Scheepvaartkwartier neighbourhood, the Oude Haven harbor, the Wilhelmina Pier in the Kop van Zuid district, where you can find the Hotel New York and the Las Palmas restaurant and Het Oude Noorden / Hofbogen.
There are more and more food markets popping up in Rotterdam: both street and indoor markets offer a wide range of organic and sustainable produce often sourced locally. The Fenix Food Factory, the Stadsmarkt (City Market) which sells produce from the city farm, and the monthly Rotterdamse Oogst Markt (Rotterdam Harvest Market). The spectacular Markthal is the largest indoor market, housing 100 fresh produce stalls, 15 food shops and eight restaurants.
Rotterdam’s diverse food culture is the tasty topic of a number of annual festivals dedicated to the culinary arts. The Culinesse festival is held in August in the late-summer sun on the beach at Nesselande, a new-town district. The Rotterdamse Kost festival allows visitors to sample locally produced culinary, cultural and musical offerings. The Moroccan food festival, Djemaa el Fna, is also staged in August. It takes place in Museum Park which is transformed into one big open-air restaurant for the duration of the event.
Witte de With
Over recent years, Witte de Withstraat road has developed into a really popular area for going out. It’s full of cafés and cocktail bars whose terraces are packed all summer and new places keep popping up. One of the most popular bars is the Witte Aap, which Lonely Planet dubbed the world’s best bar in 2009. Across the road is the Nieuw Rotterdams Café, a restaurant and a club in one, housed in the former editorial building of national newspaper NRC Handelsblad.
There are lots of café-bars along the Oude Binnenweg and Nieuwe Binnenweg roads. They include the city’s oldest bar, Melief Bender, which opened in 1876. Another Rotterdam classic is Grand Café Wester Paviljoen, on the corner of Nieuwe Binnenweg and Mathenesserlaan roads, where visitors can enjoy sitting on the bar’s terrace more or less throughout the year.
Younger people tend to head to Stadshuisplein square where the terraces and bars are guaranteed to be buzzing at the weekend. Bars such as Après Skihut, Coconuts and Café ’t Fust have for years been popular with Rotterdam people looking for a party.
Rotterdam offers diehard clubbers a good choice. The most popular clubs are Blender, BAR, Worm, Toffler, Club Vie, Club Vibes and Club Cinema. The popular hip jazz club, Bird, is in the Hofbogen development under the arches of a railway viaduct. On Saturdays, it is transformed into a soul, funk and jazz club.
If you want that Saint Tropez feel, then the Meent is the place for you. The Meent is a high-end shopping street where the Rotterdam “jet set” go for a chic evening out. There are smart wine bars and cafés, including the celebrated grand-café Dudok. Café-restaurant De Tuin is right on the bank of the Kralingse Plas lake. It is the ideal place for a glass of wine on the terrace in the summer or in the conservatory in the winter, looking out across the lake.
Taking in one of Hollywood’s latest films at the Pathé Schouwburgplein or Pathé De Kuip cinemas might be a more relaxing way of spending the evening. The classic cinema, Cinerama, offers a more varied range with a mix of Hollywood, Dutch and art-house films. The LantarenVenster cinemas mostly show art-house films.
Rotterdam, the city of festivals, has a lot to offer visitors from home and abroad. The biggest international crowd-pullers are the North Sea Jazz Festival, the world’s largest indoor jazz festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam and the International Architecture Biennale, held every other year. The summer event, Robin Rotterdam Unlimited, formerly known as the Summer Carnival and the Dunya Festival, are gaining an increasingly international following.
Rotterdam has a strong tradition of outdoor music festivals held in the city’s parks. The free festival, Metropolis, a mix of pop, rock, hip hop, world music and dance, is held in the Zuider Park in July. The literary and music festival, Duizel in het Park (Dizzy in the Park) has been going for years and is held in the Vroesen Park. The Dag van de Romantische Muziek (Day of Romantic Music) is a regular event in The Park. The Katendrecht district is the backdrop for the Nacht van de Kaap (Night of the Cape) a paean to Rotterdam’s maritime history illustrated by sentimental songs and tall stories.
Art and Culture
Rotterdam also offers a good range of cultural festivals. The three-day World of the Witte de Withkwartier festival takes place in the cultural street of the city (Witte de Withstraat) and marks the opening of the cultural year. Rotterdam Museum Night has had very high attendance figures for years. There is also Art Rotterdam Week in February, with various art fairs and exhibitions, including Art Rotterdam held in the Van Nelle Factory.
Perhaps Rotterdam’s most spectacular event is City Racing held in August. For one whole day, demonstrations are given and stunts displayed from every conceivable area of auto sport. The Formula One drivers are the biggest draw every year. Another sporting classic is the Rotterdam Marathon. The event attracts about 900,000 spectators on an average year, so runners can be sure of being cheered on for the whole of the 42.195-kilometre course. In February, the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament held at the Ahoy Rotterdam Arena draws tennis enthusiasts en masse from home and abroad as it has done for many years.
Check the Rotterdam Agenda
for recent information about all the concerts, exhibitions, festivals and trendy stuff about to happen in Rotterdam.