Restaurant De Jong, Rotterdam

Restaurant De Jong, where the chef works exclusively with seasonal vegetables and even picks the ingredients by hand from nature. We had heard very positive things about this place before, and were even encouraged by a complete stranger to try it out. When we had dinner at Kuiter, we stood outside ready to leave and started chatting with one of the other guests who had come out for a smoke. We were all raving about the dinner we just had and he told us that he had a similarly great evening at De Jong a few weeks earlier. It took a while, but we finally got around to trying it out a few weeks ago on a Friday night. Would our high expectations be met? 

The question can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. Perhaps it was partly yes and partly no. What may be telling is that thinking back on this dinner, I can’t remember exactly what all the dishes contained, or what the flavors were. Two out of four impressed us, and the one that was most exciting was the dessert. I’ll do my best to recall what we ate based on the pictures but… well… for starters, I can’t even remember what the amuse was – something with potato perhaps. All I remember is that it was crunchy.

De jong - amuse

We were at dinner with someone who doesn’t like fish, so he was given the vegetarian option when we had our fish course, which was the first course. The fish was a bit overcooked and therefore dry, and seated on a bed of mussels which were so strong in flavor they sort of overwhelmed the rest of the plate. The veggie plate looked quite vibrant and had a runny egg yolk in the middle, always a good thing, but I didn’t taste it so I can’t comment on that.

De Jong - fish and mussels De Jong - first course vegetarian

The next course was vegetarian and it was quite good. Was it parsnip? It was cut into long pasta-like ribbons and still had a bit of a crunch, I vaguely remember the waitress telling us about some sort of drying process. The foam on top was delicate and flavorful and there were shavings of black truffle to finish it off. A simple and tasty dish. Next up was the meat, and though the steak itself was good, tender and flavorful, the entire dish put together was a bit monotonous due to the quite large portion. There was a sauce on the steak that had a strong smoky flavor, almost like bacon, and the steak was resting on chunks of topinambour, a puree, and sorghum grains. All the elements were tasty, but there was nothing to cut through the heavy flavors. With the smoky flavor of the meat it would be nice to have something pickled or sour to give you a break. So, not bad, but just missing something…

De Jong - parsnip and black truffle De Jong - steak

The last dish is where the chef, in our opinion, showed some real daring and creativity. The main element of this dessert is red chicory, a vegetable! You don’t expect to have chicory for dessert, but the red variety is quite sweeter than the normal white one. The red chicory covered a goat yogurt curd and was accompanied by slices of blood orange and black olive powder. It was probably one of the most interesting dessert I’ve had in a long time. The sour and sweet combination was very well put together. I started this post by saying two of the four dishes impressed us, and as you’ve read, both were the vegetarian ones. I think the vegetarian menu may be the way to go when you visit Restaurant De Jong, and as you can see from their Facebook page, seasonal vegetables and flowers really is where their passions lie and what they excel at.

De Jong - red chicory with goat yogurt and blood orange