It is not only thanks to the Euromast, the highest building in the Netherlands with its imposing height of 185 metres, that Rotterdam has earned the title of “Manhattan on the Maas”. The profile of its ever-changing skyline is defined by the same skyscrapers in which the city’s cultural and culinary life unfolds, with design events, concerts, projections, and restaurants housed in towering locations. In just 30 seconds, a lift will whizz you up to a height of 100 metres, ready to cross the threshold of the Euromast brasserie.
Designed by the twins Sander and Robert van Oyen in the Charlois district, the long-awaited Ufo restaurant serves food from early in the morning to late at night, at just 43 metres from ground level. It is a sort of high-end all-you-can-eat establishment with a breath-taking view of a rotating tower building. Let’s leave Ufo’s fully booked tables to discover all the tricks for visiting the chicest places in Rotterdam at affordable prices.
From 0 to 25 Euros
At just five minutes from the central station, occupying what used to be the roof space of an old building, stands Op het Dak, now the mythical restaurant of the largest botanical garden in Europe. The constantly changing menu includes seasonal ingredients, with vegetables from the botanical garden itself or supplied by regional farmers and producers. Here, brunch consists of fruit, desserts, soups and cakes. Their dish of two poached eggs in herb-flavoured yogurt with home-made bread, chilli pepper oil and seasonal pesto is sheer heaven (10 Euros), to be accompanied with smoothies, the house lemonade or home-made iced tea etc.
Picknick is the place to go for breakfast: a lavish affair served on a picnic plate costs 12.50 Euros per head. This set menu includes farmhouse cheese, ham, a boiled egg, bread buns, a small focaccia with marmalade and scrambled eggs on toast. Watch your budget though: this price does not include coffee, tea or fresh fruit juices. The tables are in great demand so it is advisable to book in advance.
From 25 to 50 Euros
The Groothandelsgebouw is an impressive building that houses offices, companies, shops, and venues. Located on the eighth floor, the Suicide Club bar and restaurant puts on food and good music as well as a disco dance floor for going wild on. Here you can choose between a 300 g succulent organic Black Angus entrecote steak from Creekstone farm, Kansas (37 Euros), accompanied with a glass of well structured red wine, or a couple of oysters with Champagne jelly and lavender (8 Euros) and The Suicide Martini made with Rutte Vodka, pear, lime, fresh ginger and caramel (11 Euros).
The Rotterdam Hilton stands on the Coolsingel, Rotterdam’s main street, and offers a fine view of the city. You can go there to enjoy a drink served at the club Hugh cocktail bar or head straight to the starred Joelia restaurant run by chef Mario Ridder. The cuisine is French-oriented, yet contemporary. Here are a couple of examples: The colours of Rotterdam, a dish played out in green and white like the National flag, is a triumph of sage, dwarf beans, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, onion, chives, cod and creamed white turnip, or Wagyu, shallot and chips. This is a good place to have a drink in, thanks to its impressive international cellar comprising over 450 labels and a countertop laden with intriguingly-smelling cheeses, starting from the Dutch varieties. The restaurant offers 6 and 8 course menus, as well as Mario’s favourites. 3 courses for 46 Euros.
At Rosso’s the keywords are comfort food and street food with a fine dining approach. Here, starred chef Lars starts off with a hot dog made from top quality ingredients, followed by spaghetti with lobster, caviar and chives, or oxtail and goose liver. Many dishes are of Indian inspiration, as is my own favourite, Tikka Masala: chicken thighs with naan bread, cucumber and prawn crackers. According to your budget, calculate approximately 15 Euros for each course.
From 50 to 100 Euros
Another luxury hotel and yet another restaurant that might seem to be unaffordable, a two-star establishment in this case. We refer to Fred, on the premises of the Rotterdam Marriot, with its neo-Baroque furnishings. This is the reign of chef Fred Mustert: “Recognizable flavours are my obsession and I am always in search of the best possible product” he said once. You can afford to treat yourself to lunch with the three-course formula priced at 47.50 Euros plus a couple of glasses of your favourite Champagne.
At the starred Fitzgerald restaurant, the rule is: “Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right”. A rule that patron Danny Gonzalez has absolutely followed by putting the accent on wine and its most prestigious labels. Remco Kuijpers’ cuisine is centred on fruit and vegetables. Here too, you may choose from the menu according to your budget, starting from the three-course option. However, on this budget you can afford to go for the six-course formula (80 Euros) plus a good glass of the wine of your choice. Just to give you a feel for the cuisine: haddock, radish, kombu and lemon curd, or venison, red cabbage, chestnuts and black salsify.
François Geurds’ FG restaurant is a two-star venue, but don’t let this daunt you. One single dish in this restaurant is worth your entire budget. Make yourself comfortable on one of the 54 swivel chairs or on one of the few counter seats and order the Hida-gyu A5. Hida is a Japanese location which produces this wagyu meat, and only six European restaurants are authorized to serve it. FG is one of them. Pair it with a Millesime Blanc de Blancs or a gin-based cocktail of the house. You may have spent all you have, but this will be one of your most memorable foodie experiences.