The in Kralingen located Gym & Gin opened its doors eight months ago. Owners Maaike Groenewegen and Frank Huson are well-known names in the Rotterdam restaurant scene. Last year they sold their by Michelin crowned restaurant Huson, whereafter they entered into a new adventure: Gym & Gin.
Walk through the doors of Gym & Gin and you will feel welcome instantly. We walk in around lunch time and we are immediately greeted by waiter Dillan. Our coats are taken and brought to the wardrobe. Then we are brought to our table by manager Diego. I look behind me to see if this hands-on treatment is only for us, but that is not the case. Every visitor gets the same warm welcome.
“‘Gym’ stands for the healthy aspect and ‘Gin’ for the pleasures in life”, says Maaike, who also helps serving guests, about the concept behind the restaurant. “You can find healthy dishes on our menu that also taste delicious. But you can also eat a bitterbal here. It’s all about balance.” The location of the restaurant directly next to a gym is pure coincidence and has nothing to do with the concept.
Waitress Esther explains us what’s on the menu of the day and gives us some advice on other dishes. We start our lunch with a tuna tartare with crispy sushi rice, avocado, soy and sesame and a crispy chicken salad. Both dishes taste good but the tuna tartare is clearly our favorite. We could eat this every day. The second course exists of baked cod with oxtail, mashed potatoes, cauliflower and truffle and a half spit roasted chicken. Our taste buds are again spoiled during this course. The combination of cod with oxtail seemed odd to us at first but we are persuaded at the first bite. The spicy chicken served with a lemon also tasted delicious. We end our lunch with chocolate ganache with pear compote, cinnamon foam, marzipan ice-cream and speculaas crumble. In one word: delicious.
The audience of Gym & Gin is very mixed. Because of the proximity of Brainpark with many companies you will see a lot of business people who come in for a lunch, but also visitors from the Kralingen district and more and more visitors from the center make their way to Gym & Gin.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday there will be made room for the DJ booth and there’s a bigger role for the bar. You’re in good hands with head bartender Dennis. “He dreams cocktails and can make everything you want”, Maaike explains. Of course I had to put this to the test. I ask Dennis to make me a real Christmas cocktail. Without any hesitation he makes the Christmas Lee. A gin tonic of self-made gin with cinnamon accents and garnished with a twig of blue spruce. I’m not really a drinker but this gin tonic tastes really good!
Despite that the restaurant is very spacious and it can get pretty busy, it doesn’t feel like an impersonal eating factory. The staff that walks around makes a lot of eye contact which makes it easy to approach them. The nice shirts they’re wearing with texts like ‘Will run for Gin’ or ‘Hit the Gym? I thought you said hit the Gin!’ give a playful character to the whole. Luckily you can get them yourself too, the shirts are also for sale. Gym & Gin is an absolute gem in East Rotterdam.
Address: Kralingseweg 224
Opening hours: Monday till Friday 8 am – 11.30 pm, Saturday & Sunday 9 am – 11:30 pm