"Too much of anything is bad..."
A stone’s throw away from the highly instagrammed Markthal and Kubuswoningen, half the crew of the now closed, but formerly Michelin-starred restaurant at the Wereldmuseum (Anthropology museum) has embarked upon a new culinary adventure. When we recently visited Fitzgerald, the question was whether they would indeed be able to carry over that coveted star. No cliffhanger today. They did.
Our dinner started at the bar where we were served a number of appetizers with our aperitifs: clafoutis with tender chicken, cream cheese with frigola (deep-fried pasta), veal tartare with broccoli and pecan with amaranth and hibiscus. Not all of them were equally good – the cream cheese / frigola could have been left out -, but the appetizers clearly showed Fitzgerald had ambition. Once at our table there was another appetizer: Normandy oyster, melon, passionfruit and coco (main picture). I have complained a number of times about the overpowering use of passionfruit, but I must adjust my opinion, because after our kinky dish at De Librije, Fitzgerald offered yet another successful concoction. When used in moderation, passionfruit is brilliant.
From among the six courses, the Simmental beef with carrot, a cream of carrot, broad bean, Coco de Paimpol beans and corn-banana cream stood out. Given their South-American origin, combining the Coco de Paimpol beans with corn-banana cream was a creative idea, but more importantly, the nutty flavor of the beans matched the sweetness of the corn and banana nicely. Not to mention, the beef was perfectly tender.
Another hit was the plaice with tomato sauce served next to a small burger with mussel and avocado mousse. The Indian spices in the tomato sauce complemented both the marine elements and the avocado perfectly.
Plaice with tomato sauce and Indian spices
In some dishes there was however room for improvement. Bisque, pig face (a confusing name for a plant from Australian descent that grows on sandy flatlands near the sea), a smoky rice cracker and peas befitted the langoustine, but the artichoke and peach were overabundant.
Although surprising combinations can be a revelation, blueberry ice cream and a sauce of sugar snaps with the tuna felt a little far-fetched, but the main issue with the dish was the quality of the tuna.
The winner of the evening was the service. Our waitress and sommelier Alisa, who came over from Savage, another closed restaurant in Rotterdam, was spot-on with everything she did; especially with her clarifying comments concerning the wine pairing. A negligible mishap – our wine with the Simmental beef was served just seconds after the dish had arrived – made her feel obliged to give us an extra cheese course. Although this was completely unnecessary we were extremely happy; not only did we get a good combination of three excellent cheeses (a super strong blue Persille du Beaujolais, a soft Italian goat and some Manchego), the set of condiments was interesting too. The beetroot juice and the sheep’s yoghurt, among others, were welcome additions to tone down the strength of the blue cheese.
Pineapple Fennel Caramel
To satisfy our sweet tooth, chef Kuijpers rounded off our elaborate meal serving pineapple, provocatively marinated in fennel, a bit of cumin and pepper, with caramel ice cream, salty cream and a green sauce of chervil and sage. Daring, but fruitful and rewarding.
The restaurant takes its name from the great American writer Scott Fitzgerald who supposedly said: Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right. (The owner, Danny Gonzalez, not surprisingly, has a background as a sommelier and loves Champagne.) Fitzgerald’s quote could however also be applied to its own cuisine. Overall our group of three agreed that chef Remco Kuijpers is providing an exciting and varied set of dishes with many stimulating combinations of ingredients, but from time to time we surely noticed that too much is bad. “Less is more”, could be the adagium to go by. Fewer ingredients, fewer appetizers, more focus on the main ingredients and dishes. That is not to say we didn’t have a great diner. In fact, it may have been one of the more memorable evenings of 2017. Altogether, food, service, wine and ambience were of a high standard. Hence, the Michelin star didn’t come unexpected and is well deserved.
Gelderseplein 49, Rotterdam (Netherlands)
Six-course tasting menu: € 69,50