Rotterdam’s fine diners are incredibly happy now: Wim Severein’s new restaurant opened its doors this month from as the 18th of July.
Fans of Wim Severein will be glad to know that his signature dish is there on the menu at The Millèn, his acclaimed new venture. Of course it is! It would hardly be a Severein restaurant without Norway lobster featuring somewhere. (Here it’s accompanied, very inventively, by lapsang souchong, parsnip and shellfish jelly.) ’Every dish with langoustine is a hit,’ the chef jokes. ‘Or perhaps it’s just me…’ There’s not a hint of arrogance in the statement. Severein is, in fact, the humblest of chefs, despite many years in haute cuisine, first in the celebrity chef Herman den Blijker’s restaurants and then in the Wereldmuseum’s kitchen.
The Millèn couldn’t be better located, right across the road from Rotterdam Central Station in the five-star Marriott Hotel, on the first floor of its Millennium Tower. ‘The name is derived from the tower, with a fancy French dash as a nod to our cuisine,’ Severein says. Before you even get to the food there’s the restaurant itself to take in, with a panorama of a view over Rotterdam, which is laid out before you like one big shifting painting. ‘You can really feel the city’s dynamic from here,’ Severein says. ‘You’re bang in the middle of it all, looking across to the beautiful Central Station.’
There are high-backed benches, bucket seats at round and square wooden tables and a stainless-steel and natural-stone kitchen. The interior oozes tranquillity. ‘It’s a little Japanese,’ says the chef, who himself comes across as very Zen – an important quality when you are working in a restaurant with an open kitchen and chef’s table.The menu, meanwhile, shows local and international influences at work. ‘I use flavours from all over the world,’ says the man now known, for good reason, as the spice king of Rotterdam. Anjou pigeon with cocoa and ras el hanout is one of his speciality dishes. ‘We Dutch began importing herbs and spices long ago.’ he explains. ‘Why not use them? Besides, the world is so much smaller these days and everything can be sourced.’ Vegetables also feature large (ask for his ‘pulled pumpkin’ or artichoke tempura). Severein is confident that this is exactly the sort of food people want to eat. ‘I’m charmed by Japanese cuisine,’ he says. ‘I like pureness, only quality on the plate. I explore the market to see what’s available and what’s in season. During the summer, for example, I have mullet and lobster with Mediterranean flavours. After August 15 there’s duck and in early October other sorts of game.’Who does Severein hope will come and dine in his 45-seat restaurant with its special chef’s table that seats 16 private guests? There are the guests from The Marriott, companies such as Unilever, whose offices are nearby, and also local food lovers. ‘I work with a young team and with them I want to cook for as diverse a public as possible.’ Weena 686Open: Tue – Fri 12pm-2.30pm and 6–10pmSat 6–10pm. T. 010 430 2333