Yesterday, March 7, was mine and Rik's third year anniversary. We usually don't celebrate it because we always forget about it until it's past, but somehow we remembered it this year. So we decided to use Rik's Bongo that he got for his birthday, which offered a main dish for free at any of the participating restaurants. There were only 5 in Rotterdam, so we chose Stroom, who said that they were the hippest lifestyle hotel/restaurant in the country.
Well, when I read that description, I was already scoffing, because no one says that about themselves and is actually telling the truth. But, everyone and everything deserves a chance to prove itself.
True enough though, when we pulled up in front of the restaurant, the logo looked like it was made for an electrical appliance shop - so Stroom means electric, and the building is an old electric company or factory, but it doesn't mean that an electrical shop logo will fit a "hip lifestyle restaurant".
Even worse, the interior felt to me like a cafeteria, and not the hip, artistic type cafeteria. It really felt like a cafeteria on the ground floor of an office building, with all the echos and the cheap furnishings. I should add that Rik actually didn't have the same impression at all as I did, so don't take my word on this.
What we did both agree on though, was that the service was pretty much "meh". Sure, the waitress came without having to be called, and she knew what the dishes were like, but there wasn't much friendliness or "hipness" about it. Oh, I should also mention that Stroom says that they are inspired by the Australian social dining experience. Well, I have been to Australia about ten times now, usually to Melbourne and Sydney, and I wasn't reminded of it at all while I was at Stroom.
Anyway, the service wasn't outstanding but it wasn't abysmal. What was really disappointing was the food on offer. Our Bongo said we were entitled to one main dish each. So the waitress told us that it could be either a fish with potatoes, or Chinese chicken. And if we wanted to order something from the menu, it would cost us an additional € 5 per dish. So we looked at the menu to see if there was something more interesting... but there wasn't. In fact, there were only around 5 items of € 25 and 5 of € 15 to choose from. Our Bongo was worth € 17,50 per person, so of course we weren't going to order a € 15 + € 5 (of our own money) dish with it. Effectively, there were only 2 dishes we could choose from for "free" or 5 dishes at € 30. Which is a lot of money for eating in a cafeteria with cheap furnishings.
So I ordered the fish and Rik ordered the Chinese chicken. He asked the waitress if it came with rice; which Chinese dish just comes with meat alone, right? And she said, no it doesn't come with rice, it comes with fries.
When the dishes came, they even looked like cafeteria food. I really couldn't believe that a restaurant which charges € 25 for main dishes and € 7 for plain soups could have this standard of food presentation. It looked terribly weird to see pieces of chicken in black sauce and vegetables just sitting smack in the middle of a large plate. Something was missing. Oh yes, the rice.
My fish dish came with potatoes and celery, all chopped up and poured onto my plate like I was eating a children's meal that was already cut up and mixed together by my dad. Did they think that I didn't know how to use a fork and knife? Come on, no self-respecting restaurant serves a meal of fish, potatoes and vegetables all pre-cut into pieces and pre-mixed on the plate.
At least the restaurant was quiet enough to chat and have a nice time dining. If you can ignore the cheap surroundings and the disappointing food (Rik was even still hungry after the meal) that's overpriced, then you may find it alright. But I really would advise against it. If you want similar fusion food with great service and at the same price level, I would recommend Citroen on Kop van Zuid, a small and cosy restaurant with great atmosphere, upbeat waitresses and delicious food.