With both Christmas days already occupied with the Dutch tradition of “gourmetten”, we decided to treat ourselves to a fancier pre-Christmas food box from Rotterdam’s Restaurant Fred**.

About the restaurant

After working for 20 years in various Michelin-starred restaurants, like La Vilette in Rotterdam where he was head-chef from 1995 to 2007, Fred Mustert decided to start on his own. He opened Restaurant Fred in 2008. The first Michelin star came in 2010 and the second followed in 2014. The cheese selections and the wine lists have received several awards, like the recent Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence. GaultMillau awards the restaurant 17.5/20 points, and it currently holds the #13 spot in the Lekker 500.

I visited for a business lunch in 2008 or 2009. I can still recall that we had refined yet no-nonsense food and wines, authentic Rotterdam service, and an eye-catching cheese trolley that wafted all through the restaurant whenever the staff lifted the cover. I understand that an airconditioned and odourless one replaced it in the restaurant’s 2018 restyling.

About time to “revisit” Fred in the form of a food box!

About the menu

The Fred Take Away menus are monthly changing set 4-course Experiences, both available in vegetarian and omnivore version. Our vegetarian menus were EUR 79, and included bread with salted butter (not skimping: we got a whole French baguette!), Nougat Montelimar, and Madeleines. Additional food options were more Madeleines (EUR 7,50) and a cheese board (EUR 15). We only opted for the latter. From a beverage perspective, very reasonably priced champagne and wine pairings are available per bottle, as is a Gin Gift box (EUR 47,50). We did our own wine pairings, but did order the Gin Box.

About the box

As said, our Fred Take Away box consisted of the 4-course Vegetarian Experience dinners. We did get friandises instead of the homemade Nougat Montelimar mentioned on the menu though. Additionally, we ordered the cheese board, five kinds of cheese selected by Swen van Leeuwen, lauded as Fromager of the year 2020. In a completely seasonal fashion, the cheeses came in a box where you would normally find Saint Nicolas’ chocolate letters.

The containers were color coded and their content identifiable enough to prepare the dishes without any issues following the main instructions printed on paper. I was glad that the instruction for the dessert was a short Youtube video (as it was from a different menu), due to the fact that Fred Mustert himself assembled it in delightfully unadulterated Rotterdam accent (“als je je lepel er nou indouwt…”). 😂

Only kitchenware needed were some pots for heating sauces, vegetables and a pan to fry off the gnocchi and an immersion blender to foam the truffle sauce that came with the gnocchi.

As said, I also ordered the Gin gift box. It was a bottle of NUT Clitoria gin, an exclusive own import gin from Spain, which is a collaboration with maître Albert Rovira of the former 3-starred restaurant Sant Pau in Barcelona. The name is due to the infusion with the Clitoria ternatea flower (more commonly known as ‘Asian pigeonwings’ or ‘butterfly pea’). Their beautiful indigo blossoms have the characteristic to turn colour when they come in contact add acidic substances, like tonic or lemon. Restaurant Fred made a gift box with two mixer bottles of London Essence tonic and mini weck jar filled with cardamom and cinnamon to garnish (EUR 47,50). We haven’t tried the gin yet, but are curious how it will compare to the Canadian Empress 1908 Gin – that we picked up in Victoria, BC last year – who pioneered this innovative feature a couple of years ago. Let the fun be-GIN…!

From a food perspective, it was a contender for the best food box we had so far: no-frills, but incredibly balanced, refined, and delicious. The rustic plating is all mine… The only downside was that there were only three gnocchis per person that looked lost among the sautéed mushrooms and truffle sauce. The filling for the caramelised onion and vegetable tartelettes was enough to fill 3 of them though comfortably. Highly recommended!

The food

Just for the off-chance of the friandises would leave is wanting for more, we ordered the 2020 Sterrenbonbons by La Fève (EUR 15), a second collection of 10 bonbons resulting from collaborations with 10 Michelin-starred chef, of course Fred Mustert being one of them.

We were stuffed from dinner so tried them the next day. As to be expected, there were some pretty inventive and intense flavours in there. The ones that stood out the most to us were the creations of Luc Kusters of Bolenius*, Amsterdam (white chocolate with a ganache of parsnip, mocha, and molasses) and Danny Tsang of O&O*, St. Willebrord (coconut milk caramel, bergamot, lemongrass and a gianduja of cashews, kaffir lime leaves and red curry).

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