FG restaurant -
Last night experienced fine dining in Rotterdam's Michelin 2-star restaurant- FG, formerly known as Ivy.
The chef promises so many things - on many, he delivers, while on others, well.. Its a matter of perspective.
Food that surprises and inspires - The courses keep to their element of surprise.. one does not know what to expect, and while the menu gives a hint, one can only imagine what will hit the taste buds in the next course.
The beauty, unlike many other starred restaurants, is that the chef does not fear introducing bitter flavours in his courses. I got a turbot served with different preparations of artichokes, and lentils. In each bite, there was a subtle and delicate balance of bitterness and the smoothness of lentils.
Another course and the sweetness of crab, so deliciously balanced with the slight bitterness of the baby pak choi..
White fish is not a special favourite of mine in restaurants as most chefs tend to either sweeten it with a mash sweet potato, or bland it further with a mash white potato, the artichokes, and the lentils gave it a wonderful twist. The palate just wanted more!
A toffee covered with a thin chocolate layer- balanced once again with the peppy, jumpy berry ice cream! The gooey toffee not-a-personal-favourite notwithstanding, tingles and livens up the senses.
The food inspires you to go back .. and again...and then again...to experience new heights of molecular cuisine, which reaches its sheer epitome from the amuse to the very last of dessert morsels..
All of this against the background of the history, the guts and the innovative feel of Rotterdam. - The décor definitely reminds you that you are sitting in the city of new world design and architecture. As the wonderful waters of the Maas (or one of its tributaries) ripple in the gentle evening wind, one feels the love of all colours of Black that the chef enjoys- right from the serving plates, to the glasses up to the chandeliers! The environs are très chic although, the designer could have been much more merciful with his lighting concept. While it creates an almost surreal feeling of floating, it actually sometimes leads to people almost actually floating and landing hard on their behinds!
The floor is the walkways is lit up in bright white light, so watch your step when you walk. All through the evening (and we were there for nearly 5 hours!), I saw countless men and women of all ages, stumble, trip and almost fall over themselves. Towards the end, I think confident, young high heeled women chose to grin and bear until they reached the safety of their own bathrooms!
Food that is enjoyed together- Not really!! Sure, if the chef means eating together across the table, then yes, it is enjoyed together. But, there is no feeling of community eating, as one ideally would expect cultures other-than-western. SO, while one can talk about, how wonderful that amuse' melted in the mouth and how the bubbles rolled around in the mouth, the food is not designed for sharing and for bringing in a feeling of togetherness.
The power of simple and pure and a deep respect for preparation and taste + The art of leaving things out- It is the power of preparation and the respect for food that the chef has instilled in his kitchen that sensationalizes the taste buds indeed. However, what he forgot, was to give his waitresses a feeling of respect towards his clientèle. So, while you will enjoy world class cuisine in the harbours of Rotterdam, you will still experience the kind of service that defines the Dutch culture, something that Expatiates lament openly about. In no other Michelin star (or not Michelin Star yet!) restaurants have I experienced such haughty, arrogant, rude staff, up to the point of the client feeling guilty at ever having asked a question. All the while, the waitresses will tell you to ask anything you like, but please do yourself a favour and don't do it. You will be admonished, and talked down to, in a highly nasal octane, like the naughty Oliver Twist, who risked asking for some more gruel. And suddenly, from this beautiful high end place, you will feel transported to dowdy, cheap street cafeteria experience.
So, indeed, the chef has used the art of leaving things out - in this case, it is the service quality and smiles of his staff.
However, having said all of that, I have to mention the wonderful sommelier at the restaurant. A gentle, friendly and non-intrusive guy, who understands to ask things very delicately. If he could be used to teach the girls how to talk, that would be simply wonderful for the restaurant.
Like a smooth, delicate jasmine petal tea summing up a delicious, sumptuous meal, its time to wind up my thoughts with the following note-
While the food will enchant and transfix your taste buds, be ready for a condescending treatment from the waitresses, not to mention having to constantly look where you are going, with the blinding white lights on the floor and uneven step heights.
The chef walks around at the end of the evening chatting up with his guests, with a pleasant and friendly demeanour, one wonders why does he not rub some of it off on his immaculately dressed girls and to the environment in his restaurant :-)
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