Dinner at restaurant La Vilette, Rotterdam

La Vilette is the third restaurant in Rotterdam that I tried for the first time with the AH restaurant deal (previously, I visited the restaurants: Rodin and Floor). It is really a lot of fun to try out new restaurants. I should do this more often! (noting it down as one of my new year's resolutions)

La vilette restaurant Rotterdam ah restaurant actie

Restaurant La Vilette is located on the street Westblaak and it is a bit hidden behind the concrete pillars on the outside. It is in an area with many office buildings and it doesn't seem to be as lively as in the middle of the city center, which is only a stone's throw away. It is not really their fault, but the scent that sometimes lingers outside on the streets, doesn't give you much of an appetite. Maybe, they should have some scented candles and light them up in lamps attached on the outside wall (or would that be against the fire regulations?). Otherwise, they can just light some up in the entrance hallway, so that the scent flows outside a bit. It could lure in some customers and it is always nice to have a warm and good smelling welcome in a fancy restaurant, after a long day of work. I am thinking of something with vanilla in it, but if they have candles with the scent of freshly baked bread or grilled meat, that would work too.

Immediately after I walked in the restaurant, a kind gentleman offered to take my coat and I was directed to a great table near the windows. The first thing I noticed, were the linen on the table and the comfortable, big leather chairs. There was a nice distance between the tables and I was able to have a good conversation without bothering others and still able to hear each other clearly. The ambiance was great with the tealights on the tables and the beautiful Christmas decorations (I went there a day before Christmas). The room temperature was also on the spot, not too warm (as in: stuffy) and not too cold (while it is very cold outside).    

La vilette restaurant rotterdam ah restaurant actie set three course menu

The tables were already set with all the cutlery you need for the three course meal and the plates to eat the bread on. There was also a plate in the middle of the table with some butter and flaky sea salt, which tasted really good with the complementary bread that came later on in a metal bread basket. The bread was still very warm and crispy. I think there was enough for everyone to take two slices.

The three course meal (€35) is already decided by the restaurant, so we didn't get to choose anything besides if we wanted the accompanying wine arrangement (about €7 per glass), the extra course (€9.75), a piece of duck liver added to the main course (€6.50), and a cheese tasting platter (€8.50). We all choose to have an extra course, as I read the reviews that recommended taking an extra course to have a filling meal.

As for the drinks, we ordered two glasses of bitter lemon (€2.50 each, wasn't served with the glass bottles), a cup of hot Dilmah green tea (€3.40, just a tea bag), a cappuccino, and a bottle of water. After we went home and carefully checked the bill, we noticed that two drinks were taken of the bill. Maybe, they forgot to enter it in the system, or they took it off because we ordered the relatively expensive extra courses, or they just really liked having us as customers. I like to think it was the latter.  

La vilette restaurant Rotterdam warm crispy bread

 First course

La vilette restaurant Rotterdam crayfish pumpkin soup spring onions basil foam

While I was still enjoying the lovely bread, the soup came. It is a thick and creamy pumpkin soup (called: velouté) with chunky bits of chewy and fresh cray fish on the bottom. There were also some thin rings of crunchy spring onions and it was topped by a glob of basil foam. At first, I was afraid that the pumpkin flavor would be too strong or too earthy, but it was really subtle. The basil foam also had a very delicate flavor and it mixed well together with the pumpkin soup, as it blended with the different flavors and it made it more airy and light. The plates were also pleasantly warmed. It was a very tasty start.  

 Extra course

La vilette restaurant Rotterdam sea bream dorade scallops risotto carrot fennel pernod sauce

For the extra course we ordered, we got a plate with a piece of grilled sea bream (dorade), two scallops, some crunchy vegetables on the side (carrot confit, fennel, and asparagus), a bed of creamy, cheese parsley risotto (about 2-3 table spoons), and a foamy Pernod sauce. I had to check what Pernod sauce meant, but Pernod is an anise (tastes like licorice) flavored alcoholic drink. I don't really remember what the sauce tasted like, but I think it was sweet and brothy. It wasn't anything noteworthy, but also not something that was out of the ordinary. The alcohol flavor wasn't too strong or anything. The fish and the scallops were soft and had a nice texture and subtle flavor, but the skin of the fish wasn't crunchy and the grilled flavor wasn't really outspoken. It might be because I am a good cook and I am normally spoiled with food, but I feel like I could have prepared them better myself. The risotto was okay and the vegetables were crunchy and tasted good.  

Main course

 La vilette restaurant Rotterdam roasted guinea fowl parsnip chioggia beet potato gratin cepes sauce

For the main course, I got roasted guinea fowl and on the side, slices of parsnip (looks like white carrots) and chioggia beet (beet with cute, alternating white and red rings inside like a lollipop), and some sugar snaps (my favorite vegetables!). It is the first time I tried guinea fowl (a kind of bird) and it tasted like chicken, but it did have a distinct flavor. It is especially apparent when you eat it with some of the fats under the skin. Some would describe it as stinky, like with lamb. You really need to be a gourmet to appreciate it. But mostly, it is just like eating a soft piece of chicken fillet. The skin of the quinea fowl was also as delicious as a crispy chicken skin.

The glaced beets looks a bit overcooked (can't see the rings and the strong, bright colors), but it was perfectly made with still a bit of a bite and a nice sweet flavor. It is the first time, I liked eating beet. It is normally a bit too earthy for me and the beet flavor is a bit too heavy, but these, I could easily eat a whole plate full. The parsnip and sugar snaps were sweet and crunchy too.  

There was also a small piece of potato gratin, smears of parsnip puree (yummy!), and a cepes sauce. I had to find out again what a cepes sauce was, but cepes (aka porcini) is a kind of mushroom with a meaty and nutty flavor. To me, it tasted a bit like a sweet gravy, but I didn't really like the flavor of the sauce.


La vilette restaurant Rotterdam dessert passion fruit parfait orange cream raspberry foam

For dessert, I had a passion fruit parfait (ice cream cake with a "bastognekoek"cookie crumb bottom) topped with a raspberry foam. On the side, there were a string of orange cream (with texture similar to toothpaste), a buttery cookie and pistachio nuts crumble, sugared pineapple pieces, some cress leaves (don't worry, the flavor is really subtle), and drops of raspberry sauce.

I really liked the passion fruit parfait. It had a strong passion fruit flavor and a creamy milk flavor. The raspberry foam on top wasn't really a foam, but more like a soft raspberry sorbet ice cream. The both of them together creates a surge of fruity flavors in your mouth. It tastes really natural and not artificial. The orange cream was really nice too. A tiny bit already gives off the flavor of a whole orange. All in all, this dessert was a success!  

 What do I think?

The dessert was so amazing that I left with a good feeling. There were many different flavors on the plate to discover and every little detail was perfect. But if I really need to nitpick, the dot of raspberry foam on top didn't look very refined. I think it would look better if they added a small eatable flower on top or something like star-shaped, edible, metalic sprinkles (like those from LUSH).  

I also tried some dishes that I normally wouldn't order, if I just saw it on the menu. The words "basil foam" would have scared me away, as I don't like food heavily seasoned with herbs. But I really enjoyed the pumpkin soup. It was also nice to try out guinea fowl for the first time and it wasn't that bad. All the different vegetables (6 kinds) were also made to my liking, crunchy and sweet.  

I was served by a young waiter (for the single and not so single - but who still like to have some eye candy every now and then - ladies out there: he was quite handsome), which was more informal and easy going, and by an older and more experienced waiter, who gave off a more posh restaurant (think: well-taught English butler) feeling. The waiting time between the courses and getting the bill afterwards, was reasonable. I was never annoyed by the fast pace or the long wait.

To be honest, I was the least impressed by the extra course. There wasn't anything major to complain about, but it just didn't have any surprises. Maybe, I should have just gotten the cheese tasting platter instead, but I was worried it would have strong blue cheeses, which I don't particularly like. The three course meal on its own is not very filling, so I agree with the other reviewers that it is better to order something extra. Some fancy sesame or cheese bread sticks for example, would have been great with the delicious soup. I wouldn't mind paying extra for a whole basket of them to share.

I understand that the restaurant needs to make a living and they need to get the profits somewhere (especially with the buy one, get one free deal that I got on a three course meal), but I think it is better to not do strange things with the drinks. I often try to ask for the drink menu at restaurants and they seem to be scared that I would be put off by the high prices of the drinks and order nothing to drink at all. But I was actually trying to find out if they have anything special to try out. Restaurants should offer special fruit drinks, teas, coffees, shakes, smoothies, or cocktails for a premium price instead. I think I understand that some Dutch customers can be a bit frugal and often just ask for a free bottle of tap water in restaurants. But if you have some interesting drinks that they cannot make at home or get at the local supermarket, I think many could be persuaded to give it a try. For most of us, eating out is a way of rewarding ourselves. Our mindset is already tuned on splurging on something good. Paying a lot for something simple just doesn't feel right and it is also quite a shocker to discover how much you paid for the drinks only when you get the bill (sort of like hidden costs, why are they so secretive about it?). It kind of ruins the good feeling that you have built up with the delicious food and it makes people not want to return.

Serving delicate cakes, pastries, or chocolates with the tea or coffee after the meal would be nice too. It would feel very special, if the waiter could come by your table with a plate of delicious little bites for you to pick out something. 

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