Jack is a new name in the Hofbogen, to be precise of the last arch on the Raampoortstraat. First this was Opporto. The name change came three months before the lockdown, so Jack has now been back in business for about three months.
The owner who puts the ordered cocktails on the table is not Jack. The name of the business, he says, is taken from a house number in which a certain Jack poses as the creator, even the creator (“the creator”). And he said, “Let There Be House,” and there was house. In Jack’s house everyone, of whatever color or background, is welcome to dance to house.
“That’s why it says: Our house is your house,” the owner points to the glowing words above the entrance. How welcome can you feel? He appears to come from the house scene himself: as DJ Dennis he played all over the world. With his restaurant, he pays tribute to thirty years of dance music. Rotterdam played an important role in this – I don’t tell connoisseurs anything new. The city is world famous in the culinary field for the invention of the hair salon, musically Rotterdam has proven itself with gabber.
Dance paraphernalia hangs down the length of Jack, and the prominent center bar is apparently clad in vinyl. Disco balls of different sizes hang above it as if it were a planetary system. The ceiling, or whatever it’s called in an arc, is lit with alternating red and white spots, which gives the whole a warm impression. The feeling of space is emphasized because the tables are forced to be further apart.
While sipping our cocktails (a moscow mule, 10 euros, and a gin and tonic, 11 euros), we study the menu. How does dance music relate to food? DJ Denniz – after some searching I find his real name: Dennis van den Berg – says that he deliberately does not want to make Jack an exclusive club. He doesn’t just focus on those who have populated the Rotterdam dance scene since 1990. Yet the menu speaks their language: starters are called ‘party starters’, main courses ‘headliners’ and the desserts naturally fall under the heading ‘The Afterparty’. All dishes are accompanied by a joke like: “God is a dj, not a seabass”, “When meat takes control” or “The chicken that never made it to the party”.
The desserts are followed by a list of sashimi and sushi (“from sushi chef Itachi”), from which we have the California maki (crab, omelette, cucumber, avocado, 8.50 euros) and the maguro (tuna, Japanese ginger, 8 euros). ) choose not to start our meal too heavy. Both are served on the same platter to make it easier for us to ‘share’, after all, it is 2020. The tuna is, as you might expect, soft, the accompanying wasabi on the coarse side, the maki almost sweet.
For the main courses you can choose between the seafood pasta with scallops, king prawns, salmon, langoustine and pappardelle (19 euros) and the grilled sea bass, that of ‘God is a dj’, served with warm vegetables and cream of sweet potato (24 euros ).
It takes a while before the ordered item reaches our table, but then we are each behind a crammed plate. Personally, I would have preferred the warm vegetables served separately, so that it would look less like a battlefield with all those tomatoes, mashed potatoes, purple cauliflower, pieces of zucchini and peppers and the skin of the fish that I don’t eat. Flavors are indistinguishable. My table companion has to fish out thick strings of pasta between crustaceans and shellfish. No langoustine on her plate, by the way, but unannounced mussels.
“Excess hurts”, I threw a cliché over the table, but clichés are always true. What is missing is focus on quality.