Following research, we loved what we saw about Spirit and asked to drop by to take some shots. They were kind enough to provide us with the following meal, however all thoughts and opinions are – as always – formed independently and without agreement to be favourable.
Rotterdam has long been on our list of cities we wanted to explore once we returned to The Netherlands for the first time since our last pre-travelling holiday back in 2012; but with us midway through our vegan travel challenge, we were heading there with a whole new vegan agenda.
Initially we’d planned to visit Rotterdam because of the magnificent culture of design and architecture that has risen from the ashes of port city that once stood in its place prior to large aerial bombing during the Second World War, but with our minds now occupied with thoughts on how local vegans must be getting by not only in Rotterdam but the whole of The Netherlands.
Though we were still getting used to the idea of being vegan and doing plenty of research beforehand, we had gotten to grips with part of the process of selecting vegan restaurants from wherever we could find the information online, and making a mental and written note of where they would be ahead of our arrival. With our first stop in the The Netherlands there was no exception. We’d made a note of vegan restaurants in Rotterdam and as soon as we had a map at hand made our way to try out the vegan food on offer.
Veganism In Rotterdam
Our stop for the day was to be one vegan restaurant that we’d cherry picked out of the relatively small collection for the city. We’d be visiting a unique place called Spirit, a unique health food focused vegan restaurant that has essentially been leading the way towards a bigger organic culture in Rotterdam ever since opening a health food shop more than twenty years ago in 1988, and then a cafe as recently as 2005. But though they were building a great community of locals who supported and encouraged the change towards more organic product choice, they still weren’t satisfied; so, together with a group of other healthy lifestyle-minded local businesses, created a unique green collection of shops entitled ‘De Groene Passage‘ where you can buy fair trade clothing, design furniture, groceries and books before sitting down for lunch at Spirit.
Even though Dutch cuisine has plenty of recommended foods to try (as recommended by Lauren of Spanish Savores), not all of them come already vegetarian, let alone vegan due to the high content of egg and dairy use in most typical Dutch classics, but with the push towards more organic food use across the country led by more cosmoplitan cities like Rotterdam, there’s also been a push towards the vegan lifestyle, vegan products, and also vegan restaurants. Thankfully, there are places like Spirit where vegans can eat with a relaxed mind in the knowledge that they can trust the chefs behind the scenes.
Inspired By Switzerland
As mentioned, we’d done our homework on Spirit and its position as the best vegan restaurant in Rotterdam and had got in touch in the hope that we could sit down and have a talk about the history and inspiration of the restaurant whilst we were there, and luckily for us we had the pleasure of doing exactly that. We sat and talked about the history and inspiration behind why the restaurant had decided to offer not only great organic food, but most recently, a huge selection of vegan and vegetarian food too.
Whilst Franca sipped her almond milk chai latte and myself a shot of wheatgrass, we heard all about the story of how two chefs were inspired by time spent in Switzerland where the culture for organic food has long been the norm, where restaurants such as Hlitl and tibits (the owners of the same tibits we loved in London) offer unique experiences with modern twists on classic dishes.
A Selection Of Food
Spirit caters to both people stopping by for a quick coffee and a cake after shopping for their groceries in the building, or for those who need something healthy and nutritious for lunch, or want something to pick up and take back home after too long a day in the office.
There’s a wonderful selection either from the sandwiches and soups to go, or plenty from the cakes and pastry cabinets, but it’s the buffet selection that wins the attention of your eye (and stomach!) from the moment you arrive.
What you see before you is a selection of food that you’d have to return on multiple occasions in order to try all of, though with the chefs always looking to create new and original dishes that fuse an East Asian idea of macrobiotic cuisine together with the health food focus that they already support and navigate their recipes by, you might find the dishes change before you get to try them.
Too Hard To Choose
There’s just so much to choose from at the buffet table that we felt almost overwhelmed, but we’re not ones to buckle in the face of pressure to try everything and instead gave our best shot at trying a little bit of everything, piling our plates with a little bit of everything, without picking the same thing twice, on two separate plates so that we could both try everything once.
Plates filled, we placed them on the scales at the counter and waited for them to be weighed and priced accordingly before we settled in for a distinctive and enjoyable tasting session.
Amongst all of the food available, surprisingly enough to us most of it was fit for vegans and marked as so on their individual name tag, so you can imagine we were exceptionally happy to try so many different things with so many differing flavours.
There was vegan sushi that was very well done, a red quinoa salad that was sweet and refreshing, roasted root vegetables that were perfectly al dente enough for me, a red tempeh dish that had both a subtle sweetness and bitter kick that was highly enjoyable, a spelt salad that Franca adored, and some in house made tempeh seitan that was the best that either of us had tasted in a long while.
With vegan sweet treats available, it was only a question of time before we moved on to our next selection process, popping the choices we’d made onto our new clean plates and returned to our table, but not before selecting some freshly made in house vegan ice cream.
Either we were super lucky and chose the best desserts, or all of the vegan desserts at this restaurant are amazing; and as we tried each one we both felt that we wish we’d taken double helpings of each.
The lime pie was tart but with a slight sweetness that took the edge off, the chocolate had the right combination of true cacao flavouring paired with a soft sweetness that tasted like heaven, and the vegan ice creams we’re out of this world.
Being made entirely in house has clearly been a huge factor in the fine tuning of the recipe and flavours available at this restaurant, and once through the two bowls that we’d chosen (of all the flavours of course!) we were both of a mind to return and fill them up again, such was the success of the flavour and texture they had. Of the eight flavours, the pineapple was like eating pure pineapple, the chocolate was another masterpiece of cacao heaven, the white chocolate just as good and not too sweet, and the citrus flavoured scoop was possibly most unique of all with an almost floral quality that really gave it something special to remember it by.
Admiring The Restaurant
With full stomachs the idea of moving was the last thing on our mind so we sat, talked and watched as people gradually began to fill up this magnificent restaurant for both vegans in Rotterdam and travellers like us. Of course, we couldn’t blame a single one of them judging by the fantastic lunch time meal we’d had and the desserts that followed it.
We also spent the time admiring the decoration of Spirit which – renovated in 2012 – had clearly been undertaken with by a design agency who knew exactly what it takes to make people feel relaxed and almost at home, especially with the fantastic choice of furniture and fittings which we loved also.
Whether you’re heading to Rotterdam looking for a great vegan restaurant or somewhere where you want a guarantee of great food made from great ingredients where the chefs are always looking to dream up something special; you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else with such good choice.
3011 NB Rotterdam
Which of these foods appeals the most to you?