Shh! Rotterdam is the Netherlands' biggest foodie secret, but it probably won't be for long once eager Instagrammers get wiff of the photogenic delights which await. Hip and tasty factory hangouts, market halls the size of aeroplane hangars and breakfasts which can compete with some of the best in Europe – Rotterdam has it all. Less than 48-hours simply wasn't enough time to taste everything on offer, but I gave it my best shot – here are my Top 3 places to eat in Amsterdam's so called ugly duckling sibling city:
1. FENIX FOOD FACTORY
Highlight: funky, fresh and local
The impressive market hall is only a recent addition to the Rotterdam dining scene, but the the city's cool set has already moved on to somewhat of a more underground foodie movement: Fenix Food Factory. Housed in a former warehouse (hence the name), Fenix Food Factory brings together local producers from all over the Netherlands. Everything from cider to charcuterie, as well as coffee bean connoisseurs, can be found here. Aside from the fresh and local aspect, Fenix's 'graze approach' of ordering a wooden board filled with delicacies just makes the whole experience even more appealing – aloowing avid foodies to try a little something of everything on offer if they so wish. It's all about the relax here and not the rush, so pull up a pew inside on one of the vintage pieces of furniture scattered about the place or, if it's a sunny day, make sure to head outside and sit on one of the benches to soak up one of the best views of Rotterdam's skyline.
2. MVRDV - MARKET HALL
Highlight: Dutch delights all under one (big) roof
Although the local hipsters may have already moved on, Rotterdam's market hall should definitely not be dismissed. The variety of food on offer here is simply astounding – classic Dutch dishes sit alongside international cuisine, ready to spoil anyone with even the slightest bit of appetite. The biggest challenge here is deciding what to go for. My recommendations are: Dutch fries from Bram Ladage, something sweet from Van Beek & Specker, and some tasty cherry tomatoes from Tommies with which you can wander around with and snack on while sightseeing. Food aside, architecture-geeks will be pleased too – the hall itself is a wondrous piece of design, so do set aside some time to gaze upwards and enjoy its uniquely shaped and colourful ceiling.
Highlight: breakfast on a board with a damn good cuppa
Like Fenix, trendy breakfast spot Picknick also opts to plate up its dishes on wooden boards – and why not, this proud display makes them look all the more delicious before tucking in. Picknick is a stone's throw away from Rotterdam Blaak station (where the Market Hall and Piet Blom's cube houses can be found) and is a great (and rather hip) place to have a relaxing breakfast. The options on offer taste as mouthwatering as they sound – I went for the Scrambled eggs with chorizo, green salad and French dressing served with toast, and I wasn't disappointed. My brekkie was accompanied by one of the best chai teas I've had in a while and – here's the real treat – it was a mere 1 euro a cup. To round off the experience, Picknicks minimalist and light surroundings (reminiscent of Scandinavian style) will make sure your day gets off to the right start.