Rotterdam – Restaurant Review
By Surafel Solomon, August 01, 2019
Rotterdam Lounge and Restaurant is a new establishment located around Bole Medhane Alem. The restaurant and kitchen occupy the ground floor, of the G+2 building, with a crisp and restrained design that is not fussy but to the point. It is also in full view of the streets revealing the restaurant to the streets and the street to the restaurant. On the floor above, there is a semi open bar/lounge. Offering a wide variety of both Ethiopian and European dishes, Rotterdam is one of the rare restaurants that delivers exceptional quality in both areas of cuisine serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Our first dish was a platter commonly known as ‘Maheberawi’ presented with a variety of traditional Ethiopian food. Though they also offer a fasting version which is no less exquisite, our choice was the non-fasting version. Our meal consisted of: Gomen be ‘siga’, ‘Kitfo’ , ‘Tibs’, Alicha and qey minchet , Bozena Shiro , Doro wot and Ayie be kibe .
The Gomen Be Siga is collard greens cooked with cubed beef that is a variation of a fasting staple, which is just the collard greens, that has become as important. This is a great dish by itself but really plays well mixed with other Ethiopian dishes. The kitfo, which is minced meat that is traditionally seasoned with butter and spices and is served either raw, rare or well cooked, is on par with restaurants dedicated to serving this dish only. For any foreigners, this dish could be best described as an Ethiopian take on beef tartare, but worlds apart in my opinion because of the amount and diversity of spices that go into the making of this dish. The tibs, which is sautéed chunks of beef, is cooked to perfection maintaining its juicy tenderness. The Alicha and qey minchet is a minced beef stew served two ways, either spicy or non spicy. The Alicha being the non-spicy one resembling a curry like color and the Qey Wot, which literally translates to red stew and has Berberie, a mixture of as many as, sometimes more than, 16 different spices. Bozena shiro a stew made with chickpea powder and a mix of other spices with the addition of small pieces of meat is to me, and this is a sentiment I share with few people, one of the best Ethiopian dishes. And it is done proper justice at Rotterdam. Finally, the star of the platter, a dish the manager tells me has become a favorite of patrons, what could be called Ethiopia’s national dish, the Doro Wot and Aibe. This spicy and flavorful chicken stew is a holiday staple and a comfort food to its core. Paired with Aibe (dry cottage cheese) to cool down the heat of the Doro Wot, it is as balanced as a dish comes. All in all, this platter, as depicted in “The Simpsons” is a true party in your mouth.
From the European/Asian section we had a special omelet, Lasagna, chicken curry, chicken with brown sauce, and grilled chicken.
From the breakfast section of the menu, which is entirely dominated by foreign dishes, we had the special omelet. What makes this omelet special is that the filling is Tibs (the sautéed chunks of beef), making it a hearty and fulfilling meal. The lasagna, though not served in a claypot, which is a personal preference and not a standard of any sort, was on point to say the least.
We then had three different types of chicken dishes. First the chicken curry dish, maybe the closest dish to resemble Ethiopian cuisine, because of its sauce that is packed with spices and flavor, with tender bits of chicken that just melt in your mouth. I was quite disappointed with the portion, but in fairness I don’t think I would have had enough of any portion served to me. The next dish, the grilled chicken was on the dry side but seasoned well. The last dish we had was chicken with brown sauce. Brown sauce being one of the “five Mother sauces” of classic French cuisine tastes tart and peppery, a combination that is new to me but went very well with the chicken.
The overall hygiene is great, and this simple and elegant restaurant with a bar on the floor above feels like home. When the music slowly seeps from the bar above, we were drawn to check it out. But that’s a story for another time. If you can’t wait, go and check it for yourself.