Location: Mastika is located in a beautiful old building in the centre of Rotterdam. High ceilings, a beautiful staircase and original (looking) details. The main rooms are spacey. The tables with the white clothes and wine glasses look inviting. Decoration is quite okay though the numerous fake paintings on the walls with plump concubines in a harem setting are quite kitschy. There is also an unpleasant smell in the air one sometimes confronts in old Dutch properties lacking proper infrastructure.
Service: Service is very friendly but not faultless. The waiter forgets who ordered what, has brought normal soda instead of diet soda and forgets to bring the second round of drinks.
Food: We get three amuses: cheese, olive oil mixed with pomegranate syrup and black olives. Cheese is quite tasty. The olives on the other hand are extremely bland (I’m guessing they came right out of a cheap can). Since the three of us received a few tiny slices of bread I could not taste the olive oil. The menu does not live up to the claim that Mastika prepares Ottoman cuisine. The dishes on the menu are those one would expect in any regular contemporary Turkish restaurant. There is not a single dish on the menu that can be considered revival “Ottoman”. The dishes are “Ottoman” only in the empty sense that contemporary Turkish cuisine has historical roots in the “Ottoman” cuisine. I order a “peasants’ mezze” (though I wonder what this dish is doing in a menu claiming “Ottoman” – thus courtly – roots) and mixed vegetables in tomato sauce (guvec). Dishes are beautifully presented but are on the small side. My main dish is accompanied with plain rice – max. one spoonful- instead of bulgur as suggested in the menu. In terms of taste the dishes are acceptable but nothing more than that. My guvec for example consisted simply of fried vegetables – wondered if the oil used in the frying was fresh and/or good quality - in a bland tomato saus. The level of cooking is comparable to any touristic restaurant in Turkey (those restaurants where we the locals would not eat ).
Music: The choice of music at Mastika is very unfortunate. The guests are confronted with third class Turkish pop (with the exception of a beautiful song by Sezen Aksu) and so called “arabesk” played at a relatively high volume. The music clashes with the elegance of the building and makes a mockery of the claim to “modern Ottomanness”.
Bill: We had three appetizers, three main courses, 5 soft drinks and two cups of coffee. The bill was more than 130 euro’s! I don’t mind paying much for food, but 130 euro’s for such quality? I felt robbed to be honest.
Verdict: I believe that the owner’s of this restaurant are seriously underestimating the level of competition in Rotterdam. I would recommend them to either lower the prices or the improve quality.
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