Reinstating Spanish cuisine in all its glory

TEXT: JULIËN L’ORTYE | PHOTO © DESTINO

Of course there are many restaurants in Rotterdam to visit when you feel like eating Spanish food. However, you will find very few places where the dishes are being prepared as brilliantly as Destino, a lovely hotspot on the north side of the city.

Inspired and driven by their various trips to Spain, Nelleke Elbert and her husband Niels Koomans decided to open their own restaurant. In the words of Elbert, they both disliked the way Spanish cuisine was (and still is) treated in the Netherlands, where they often serve “heavy, dispassionate and fried dishes”. For Elbert, who has over 20 years of experience in the food service industry, having her own restaurant was a long-cherished wish. So when the couple wanted to transform their shared love for Spain into something tangible, the idea of a restaurant came to their minds pretty quickly. “We began with travelling a lot, just to learn about the kitchen, which has a very rich history and that has no problems letting in other global influences as well.”

No wonder Destino’s menu reminds us a bit of fusion cooking, with all kinds of influences from Middle Eastern, South American and Moorish cuisine. The menu changes every month and varies from the well-known and quite classic jamón ibérico to ‘pincho de pollo’ (marinated chicken spears with pumpkin purée) and has many daily specials to offer. For example, the ‘tortilla del dia’, which is filled with meat, fish or vegetables. If you do not feel like picking something from the menu, that is no problem. There is a variety of frequently changing off-menu tapas dishes that can be ordered as well. “Changing things up constantly keeps it exciting. Not only for the guests, but for us as well,” Elbert says.

Apart from all the mouth-watering dishes, Destino also offers a wide range of wines and Cavas, while there are also around 15 different gin and tonics for those who want to make their evening even more interesting. As they do not take any reservations and you will probably have to spend some time at the bar before getting to your table, it is good to know that you will not have to go thirsty while doing so.

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