A new style of dining at Mario’s
Rotterdammers call him a go-getter. That’s a huge compliment, especially for someone hailing from Amsterdam. People who roll up their sleeves and put in the hard yards are held in high regard in this city on the Maas, and chef Mario Ridder has been putting in some serious elbow grease.
The man himself, Mario Ridder
Fifteen years ago, Ridder worked at Parkheuvel, Rotterdam’s first three-star restaurant. After that, he cooked up a storm in De Zwethheul on the outskirts of Rotterdam, where he was awarded two Michelin stars in 2006 – just seven months into the job.
But times are changing, and dining out is a different affair these days. Now even gourmet restaurants are looking to deliver a more relaxed dining experience. Ridder has moved with the times, first establishing his carvery CEO Baas van het Vlees in the hip Katendrecht quarter. Then, two years ago, he moved his fine dining restaurant to the ground floor of the Rotterdam Hilton, near the Hofplein fountain in central Rotterdam, setting up as Restaurant Joelia by Mario Ridder.
This michelin-star restaurant is decorated in a 1950s Hilton style, with a gold and yellow interior and lots of marble, brass and American oak. It is open seven days a week for hotel guests and casual diners. Joelia has two entrances, one on the Coolsingel and the other in the hotel’s lobby. Hotel guests can also order room service from the restaurant.
“I hate cooking for just four or five tables,” says Ridder. “I want a full, bustling restaurant, and we have set our prices at Joelia so everyone can come in and try the food.” A new style in gastronomy – that’s what Joelia promises. You can dine at the bar or in an intimate dining room, should you prefer more space and a quieter atmosphere. An evening at the chef’s table, close to the kitchen’s dynamics, is also possible.
Diners are served by waiters in (stylish) jeans and sneakers, for Ridder believes dressing up to dine out is a thing of the past. He thinks the casual attire of his waiting staff balanced with top service and an excellent knowledge of the restaurant’s food and wine is a nice synergy. This all fits in with his new “total” dining concept. “Some guests have time and want to order 10 courses, others might want a more informal meal – two small dishes, and then be off,” he muses. The menu accommodates these diverse dining options, from a nicely-priced lunch menu through to the Culinary Trip (six courses, with wine matches if desired) and the All The Way (nine courses).
Mario and the team
Ridder’s signature dishes have stayed on the menu, including his Likkepot – a small caviar tin filled with fresh avocado cream, soft, sweet crab meat and a thick layer of salty caviar – and also, thank heavens, his famous vanilla soufflé dessert dish.
Open Monday – Friday 12pm-2pm & 6pm-9.30pm, Saturday 6pm-9.30pm & Sunday 1pm-8pm