Rotterdam v. Amsterdam: The battle of the indoor food market


Markthal Rotterdam 1

On-trend and in-keeping with the increasing demand for artisan, fresh and honest produce (okay, I’m speaking on behalf of a few elitists, hipsters and myself), but still… More and more people are gravitating towards markets with a touch of organic these days, preferably mixed in with bohemian fashion, one-off jewellery pieces and overpriced cakes and pastries. Amsterdam and Rotterdam have plenty of markets to satisfy ones cravings, but now the indoor food market can be added to the streetscape in both cities as well.

Rotterdam was the first, by a few weeks, to bring forth the trend of the indoor market when it opened up a massive multi-story complex three weeks ago. Rotterdam being the modern, skyscraper laden, one and only true metropolitan city in the Netherlands, the Markthal, as the indoor food market is known as, had to be designed as a futuristic, almost science fiction like building, also known as modern architecture. Set against the industrial backdrop of the city, it totally works. Especially considering Rotterdam is an architectural hub of sorts. On a dreary day, which is when I visited the Markthal, it still didn’t look washed out. The large droves of people, all cramming their way through revolving doors (bad idea), however, were a little off putting. Definitely going to give it a wee while before returning.

Markthal Rotterdam 4

Personally, I was pretty impressed with the number of food outlets under one roof and the beautiful murals adorning the ceiling. From fresh fish to dried salami, chocolatiers, florists, you name it, it’s there. And even the NY Times did a write up on it, so it must be good, right?

The Markthal also contains a number of outlets by well-established food chains and has luxury apartments attached to the arch-like building. All efforts to make the city centre more attractive.

Now on to Amsterdam and the newly opened Foodhallen (only a stone’s throw away from my house). The foodhallen is housed in a former tram depot, in a historic building. The foodhallen is modelled on well-known indoor markets and food courts such as Borough Market in London, with various independent food entrepreneurs selling artisan produce side by side. Next to the Foodhallen, you’ll find a hotel aptly named Hotel de Hallen, a hip and happening bistro, a special meat and bbq restaurant, a cinema, boutiques and a library.

De Foodhallen 1

When traipsing through the Foodhallen, which just like Rotterdam was absolute mayhem because of course  I had to arrive on the scene before the official opening, just like everybody else, I was struck by the layout. Lots of light and a wondrous mix of food outlets selling everything from organic pizza’s named after film directors, Vietnamese snacks, delicious sandwiches, cupcakes and cocktails.

Unlike the Markthal, the Foodhallen has a vintage, creative look about it and feels more authentic. The Markthal is impressive no doubt, but to me feels more like a grocery shop from outer space than a real culinary experience. Of course I’m not biased being an ‘Amsterdammer’ and the fact the Foodhallen is near my house certainly doesn’t make a blind bit of difference. In any case, both are, in my view, a welcome addition to the food scene in the Netherlands.

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