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Restaurant Fred in Rotterdam - 2 Michelin stars

Rating: 91.
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Outstanding (93-95)
Very good to Excellent (89-92)
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With the release of the 2014 Michelin guide, the Netherlands gained 3 new two-star restaurants, Restaurant Fred and FG (previously Ivy), both in Rotterdam and Bord'eau in Amsterdam. The Netherlands have 19 two-star restaurants in total. Fred Mustert's eponymous restaurant opened its doors in 2008 and was awarded its first Michelin star in 2010. Before opening his own restaurant Fred Mustert (b.1964) was head-chef at the Michelin starred La Vilette in Rotterdam (now closed) and De Zwethheul in Schipluiden (near Rotterdam).

Restaurant Fred is open for lunch and dinner Monday till Friday and for dinner on Saturday. The restaurant offers a Menu Inspiration (7 courses, €89.50), a Menu Alliance (signature dishes, €100) and there's the à la carte menu. For lunch you can also choose between a 3-course set lunch menu for €45 or a Business lunch menu (3 courses, including aperitif, wine, water and coffee/tea) for €75. I had lunch with my husband at Restaurant Fred on Friday 17 January 2014 and we both ordered the 7-course Inspiration menu.

First to arrive was a glass with an airy ham mousse at the bottom, covered with a Madeira jelly and on top of the jelly was a fig 'soufflé', foie gras coated in crunchy 'kruidkoek' (a Dutch type of gingerbread) crumbs and some Madeira foam. A lovely combination.

Shortly after the second course arrived. Goujonettes of Dover sole and strips of lightly smoked eel, served with diced parsley root and celeriac, a light and creamy butter sauce, sugar snaps and a basil espuma. A well-balanced dish with delicate warm and creamy flavours. Excellent use of parsley root, which added some depth, without being overpowering.

Third course was Scallops, Parmesan, Macadamia nuts, Ras-el-hanout. Sliced scallops, marinated in a champagne vinaigrette, with a Ras-el-hanout crème hidden underneath. On top of the scallops were some chopped, toasted Macadamia nuts, halved radishes and a creamy Parmesan foam. The texture of the Ras-el-hanout crème was light and smooth, but there was too much of it on the plate and it overpowered the scallops. I liked all the other individual flavours, but the combination of scallops, Parmesan and Ras-el-hanout didn't work for me.

Fourth course: Langoustine, truffle, sea kale, Jerusalem artichoke. An elegant dish of tender langoustine, served with a light and aromatic truffle foam, white beans, crunchy sea kale, a few Jersusalem artichoke crisps and a light and creamy Jerusalem artichoke puree, the latter having delicious earthy, sweet flavours and a lovely light texture. An elegant and refined dish with attractive, rich flavours.

Turbot, Bouchot mussels, curry and fennel were next. An excellent piece of well-cooked turbot and a few flavoursome Bouchot mussels, accompanied by a mildly flavoured curry foam made with the cooking juices of the mussels. Some Hollandaise sauce was spooned over the turbot and on top of this came some freshly shaved fennel. Also on the plate were toasted pine nuts and crunchy diced fennel and celery. All this was complemented by a superb, delicately balanced, fennel, celery and cucumber nage, that had an elegant richness to it. A wonderful dish with fantastic flavour profiles and a great variety of textures. The fresh fennel balanced the richness in this dish perfectly.

Before dessert we had an extra cheese course. The cheese trolley at Fred is absolutely marvellous and in my experience, the cheese selection is one of the widest in the Netherlands.

Sixth course and pre-dessert was a refreshing palate-cleanser of Gin and Tonic granita, shredded mint and a foamy Limoncello crème.

This was followed by a Caramel, chocolate, pear and vanilla dessert. On the plate were: milk chocolate mousse, pear compôte, chocolate sponge cake, vanilla foam, mascarpone and honey ice cream, chocolate crumble, chocolate-caramel bonbon, chocolate ganache and caramelised 'brulee' pear. A lovely dessert, that managed to strike an ideal balance between richness and freshness.

After dessert we got to choose from a wide selection of homemade sweets and chocolates, presented on a trolley. Finally there were freshly baked madeleines and mini 'oliebollen'.

Fred Mustert is an accomplished chef who has an understanding of and respect for the classics. His cooking reflects his belief that Michelin starred food shouldn't be too complicated and that all ingredients on the plate should be recognisable.
The dishes on the Inspiration menu are based on classic flavour combinations, but with modern influences and with a contemporary, playful presentation. However, in particular for a menu entitled "Inspiration", the (main) ingredients were often on the safe side and the flavour combinations could have been more adventurous. Having said that, Restaurant Fred, with its handsomely appointed dining room and efficient and attentive service, is a great place for a full-on fine dining experience with all the bells and whistles. 

Posted 05-02-2014


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