As you know, I love exploring the best of Rotterdam’s food and drink scene. Recently, I had the chance to review Restaurant Dertien on Schiedamse Vest (between Witte de Withstraat and Beurs).
The restaurant specializes in local, natural and seasonal food with an experimental twist. Read on to see how it went!
We stepped out of the cool autumn air and into the warm embrace of Dertien on a dark Sunday evening. The industrial-cum-rustic interior of the restaurant, filled with the glow of low-hanging lightbulbs, tables of repurposed wood and a scattering of green plants, welcomed us with a relaxed and hearty feel. We were right away put into the enthusiastic care of sommelier Jeroen, who led us to a table on the mezzanine floor.
Perched up at our table, we surveyed the bar, roaring wood fire grill, and comings and goings of guests on the ground floor below; while we tucked into fresh bread ‘from a friend’ (aka Das Brot bakery from down the road) and a glass of organic cava. Our table was also a prime spot for checking out the eight-metre-high menu made of wooden letters that stretches across the wall behind the bar.
On the menu
Dertien is very much a playground for its chefs. They love to experiment with new ingredients, cooking techniques and flavour combinations, taking inspiration from their travels to the far corners of the world.
Although Dertien has been around for a total of 12 years now (5 years in Schiedamse Vest and 8 years in a prior location), its concept is constantly evolving. At the time of our visit, the techniques in vogue at the restaurant included fermentation, sous vide, wood grill and wood-fired oven; all in a bid to extract the biggest, deepest and richest flavours from their local ingredients.
First came starters of grilled aubergine, pistachio cream and coriander; mackerel, Japanese dashi broth and parsley root; and beef tartare, bottarga fish eggs and fermented cauliflower. Then followed the mains of sous-vide and grilled chicken, grilled lettuce and kimchi; and beef shoulder served with corn and potato foam. These were accompanied by fries with citrus mayonnaise, and half a broccoli topped by miso almonds. Plums marinated in vanilla and apples from the wood oven, paired with hazelnuts and ginger ice cream, finished off our feast.
The cooking techniques used boosted the natural and earthy flavours of the ingredients. Each dish was soft, bold and moreish. And they were all beautifully and wildly arranged on the plate, reminiscent of wild flower meadows or leafy forest floors.
Recommended dish: It’s a close call, as each dish stood out in its own way. But I loved the contrasting textures of both beef dishes: the light and airy tartare paired with crisp slices of fermented cauliflower; and the tender beef shoulder served with bursting corn kernels.
Dertien loves a good experiment their current focus? Fermentation: a technique which brings, depth, sour and umami flavours to their dishes. In the basement of the restaurant lies Dertien’s fermentation lab. Where, they say, 90% of their fermentation attempts fail. Turns out you can’t ferment a leek. But they have perfected several experiments: look out for their fermented cauliflower, kimchi and other successful trials on the menu.
The restaurant serves mostly natural wines (with the aim to soon offer only natural wines). And they all have their own fascinating stories, which Jeroen expertly and vividly brings to life for a truly memorable wine tasting experience. There’s the red wine named after the little dog which wasn’t allowed in the vineyard. Mead from a family of bee and honey enthusiasts. The Rainwater Madeira that gets younger as it gets older. The ‘spicy’ red made from grapes that you’ve probably never heard of, let alone tried before. And the German Riesling blend which took the owners four years to perfect, nudged along by Jeroen’s own recommendations when he himself visited the vineyard.
Aside from wines, there is a wide selection of organic juices, homemade soft drinks, cocktails, craft beers and coffees; all made and served with as much passion and enthusiasm.
For who, for when
Whether you’re wearing your Sunday best, or turn up in your jeans and trainers, you wouldn’t look out of place in Dertien. The refinement of the dishes combined with the warm, relaxed atmosphere makes this restaurant a suitable location for numerous occasions. Rather, Dertien is more suited to a particular type of person: if you like good food and are open to trying something new, this place is worth the detour.
A large portion of Dertien’s clientele happens to be Belgian. It seems a couple of positive articles and plenty of word of mouth around the community has lured in Belgian diners en mass. What does that say about the restaurant? Well, Belgians are often described as ‘Bourgondisch’ (enjoying life, good food and drink), and that’s a pretty accurate description of Dertien’s own attitude.
Average price: €60-€65 for a two-course dinner for two with a side. As for drinks, that will very much depend on what you order from the extensive offering.
Address: Schiedamse Vest 30, 3011 BA Rotterdam
Have you ever been to Dertien? Let us know in the comments below!