My oyster craving had still not been satiated so we went looking for a seafood restaurant and wound up at Vis aan de Maas. This restaurant sits in an unusual area of Rotterdam (for restaurants), definitely not somewhere you accidentally walk by. Since the weather was nice and we were planning on drinking, we took the subway and made the error of letting me navigate us. For the record, I can read a map and follow instructions. I had simply entered the wrong address into my phone. A 10 minute walk turned into a 25 minute walk where we witnessed all sorts of street activity from a Rastafarian party to an adult on a tricyle that accompanied us for a good 5 minutes and told us not to cross the road when the light was red, safety first! Never a dull moment in Rotterdam.
But back to Vis aan de Maas. Let me get right to the point. The seafood there is good because the ingredients are very fresh, there is no doubt about it. However, they don’t do anything very exciting with the food, and the sides (salads and potatoes and whatnot) were not impressive. Apologies for the crap pictures, it was a bit dark in there due to the romantic lighting.
They started us off with bread and aioli. The bread was fresh and crusty but the aioli was a bit overwhelming, garlic-wise. Considering the delicate flavors that were to follow, the garlic bomb to start with is a bit questionable. We ordered 15 Gillardeau oysters (3 each, but 6 for me because I’m greedy!). They were quite large and meaty, and tasted sweet and salty. I prefer a slightly smaller oyster with lots of its own juices but these were good and I quickly destroyed my 6 oysters.
We ordered four different small starters to share, and I only have pictures of three of them: cockles braised in white wine with garlic, chili and lemon (no pic); dried and salted sardines; fried calamari; and cod cheeks. The cockles were good and so were the sardines – very salty! The calamari were very bready/doughy – as you can see in the picture they could be mistaken for onion rings from any fast food chain. However, the squid itself was still very soft and had good flavor, so it’s unfortunate they use this type of batter. The cod cheeks, on the other hand, had very little flavor. Not surprising since the cheeks are usually the most delicate part. Once dipped in the remoulade sauce, all you taste is sauce. Seems like a waste of a good cheek, perhaps more subtle flavors would suit these pieces better.
For our main course I ordered the lobster a la plancha. The others had the sole and the sea bass. The lobster was very good, the claw meat was wonderfully tender and juicy. What you can’t see in the picture are the vegetables underneath the lobster. They were grilled or pan fried and by the time I had opened up one of the claws, they were swimming in lobster juice. The carrots had been charred slightly black so the juice slowly turned black. This is not an appetizing look. On top of that, they were literally just grilled vegetables. I understand the lobster is the main attraction, and what an attraction it is, but they can easily put more effort into their sides. I tasted the sea bass and similarly to the other dishes, the fish was fresh, and it tasted like grilled fish. Nothing more, nothing less… I didn’t try the sole but I’m sure the same taste pattern occurred there as well. On top of all this, the sides were the same on all plates, which just comes across as rather uninspired if you ask me. I’m not sure we would return to Vis aan de Maas, but if you are looking for straight up seafood or a good lobster, then give it a try.