Jim de Jong, one of Rotterdam’s most remarkable chefs with a restaurant that might just be my favorite in my home town. With internships at Le Cirque (Robert Kranenborg) in The Hague, The Fat Duck (Heston Blumenthal) in London and at Le Jardin des Sens (Pourcel brothers) in Montpellier he gained quite some experience.
At the age of 21, he opened his first restaurant together with his former partners, called De Jonge de Jong (nowadays De Matroos en het Meisje) but a few years later in 2013 he started Restaurant De Jong on his own. With a little help from his love (who works there as well) he created this gem in the Hofbogen, a former station. A romantic French touch, Scandinavian simplicity and Dutch no-nonsense influences can be found in the interior as well as in the food.
You can choose from two surprise menus, one of them is based on vegetables and the other one includes fish or meat. The dishes change constantly and Jim is not afraid to get a little experimental in his kitchen. But there’s always a solid grounding to his dishes. The base is mainly French but Jim always tries to stay up to date and does a lot of research. His dishes, his menu and his way of cooking are a melting pot of advanced and old techniques, other traditions and his own Dutch tradition as well. From preserving to liquid nitrogen, Jim doesn’t have any boundaries, he’s not bound to one certain style. A starter might look and taste like something you’ll eat Noma, in your main course you might find some El Bulli influences and the dessert that will follow can make you feel like you’re in a French bistro (with some added edible glitter). I had my best ‘Moelleux aux chocolat’ ever at De Jong.
Like many restaurants nowadays do Jim also works with the seasons and uses local ingredients. He forages in nearby woods and he has his own garden where he grows herbs, flowers and vegetables. He uses a lot of the flowers in his menu and not just for the looks but always essential to the dish as well. So don’t take them off!
With his Rotterdam spirit and his beautiful complexe simplicity, Jim knows how to pleasantly surprise me every time. It’s not a traditional restaurant, you’ll eat what the chef has in mind for you that day. I think he’s the coolest and most talented kid on the culinary block of Rotterdam. Adventurous, humorous and beautiful feel good food is what he serves. Just love him cause he’s not afraid to take risks.
Go there, be open to what the evening will bring you and get surprised.
Raampoortstraat 38, Rotterdam