The Chef’s touch: Lea Linster, Frisange, Luxembourg

Last month, to celebrate my partner in crime Kochi’s birthday, we decided to spoil ourselves with a starred choice, the one I was craving since my arrival in Luxembourg, Lea Linster in Frisange.

I heard several different opinions about this restaurant and I was very curious to try it – I am generally not put down my negative opinions, nor pushed by great ones, I just prefer to have my  personal.

I got in contact with the restaurant via mail couple of weeks before and I got a quick reply in English – not to be taken as granted in most of  restaurants in Luxembourg. I specified the reservation was for a birthday celebration and we would have loved to have a nice table.

Moving forward to the day, we got to the restaurant at 7.30 pm – there was a private parking just in front. The restaurant was almost complete and we were welcomed at our table, just next to the window, overlooking the lovely garden.

We opted for the Bocuse D’Or tasting menu, a four courses journey through the tastes that honoured Lea Linster of the famous prize, with wine pairings.. During the wait, we were proposed an aperitif, I went – business as usual – for rose’ champagne, while Kochi went for a blanc de blanc.

Together with the aperitif we received some crunchy focaccia bread with herbs, followed by a bread bruschetta with olives tapenade and bresaola (tasty) and a poached quail egg (plain).

Our dinner properly started with a goat cheese mousse and gazpacho as welcome, followed by lobster and tomato starter, a classic melody, not very surprising in the medley but technically perfectly executed

At this time Lea Linster made her appearance in the room, spending some minutes for each and every table and taking pictures with the guests. We supposed it was a short” one woman show” to give an appeal to the visit, indeed from that moment on Lea would not leave the stage, taking not the leading role, but participating, with the brigade, to the simplest tasks of the service.

After a quick relaxing break in the breath-taking garden, we moved ahead with grilled fish and crusty peppers crisp. This is the point at which clearly the dinner had its turnaround, moving from just a straight-forward classic performance to a surprising and amazing celebration of tastes.

My main course was lamb, with potatoes crust, while Kochi had duck, with blackberries. Both dishes were perfectly balances, apparently simple, but built on delicate equilibriums, prodigious in their single components and just perfect together. We smiled.

Cheese trolley, followed by the pre-dessert, a crème brule accompanied by some sweet treats. The conclusion was a strawberry meringue dessert – the most delicious pastry ever tried – and I am not a dessert girl, you know it.

We moved on the terrace again for the coffee and digestive and we were joined at this time by Lea again, who took a small surprise for Kochi, her birthday cake.

While everybody was leaving, we stayed another hour with the chef, pleasantly talking, as we have been friends for ages. It was lovely to discover her background and heard some anecdotes of her life. We left past 1 o’clock, when the restaurant was already closed, with a personalized signed book as memory. It was an unforgettable night.

Walk through our dinner in pictures and discover our final feelings.

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What I liked about Lea Linster:

  • The location: although passing by I never had the impression of it to be a fairy tales place, indeed the interiors are minimal and warm and the garden, oh my gosh, the garden, a spectacular view and the most cosy settings – why did I not get married here?
  • The food: while the premises were somehow disappointing – the bread focaccia and the aperitif accompaniments were nothing “wow” – the menu slowly but decisively moved to a triumph of aroma architectures. Classic basis, someone would say, but still incredible and rare.
  • The chef’s touch: this is the real competitive value of Lea Linster. I visited few starred restaurants in my short blogger career and in most you have the pleasure, sometimes, to meet the chef. In some exceptional circumstances, we were invited to visit the kitchen (at Cracco, in Milan). But never ever we have been served all night long by the chef herself, like in this case, refilling the water, taking the empty dishes, checking on us during the night. Not only: Lea is talking amiably with the clients – all of them, without differences – like are old friends. It is not the appearance – you are leaving at the cash counter some good money, so we smile and thank you -. No, here it is completely different. You feel this is the restaurant of Lea Linster, not only in the name, but because she is here, she is interested in you, in your feelings, she wants to know everything out of the kitchen and in the room is fine. It would have been probably just a very good dinner without this touch, indeed it ended up being outstanding.

What I did not like about Lea Linster:

  • Considering the level of the restaurant and the exceptional dinner we had, only one thing was not on the point: the wine service. We ordered the champagne aperitif (an astonishing 26 euro per glass):  the sommelier came with both bottles, served Kochi’s white, then suddenly left, went to refill wine to couple of other tables and after 5 good minutes realized and came back to fill my pink glass. The timing of following wines were equally wrong: the red arrived when our main course was almost at the end. Moreover, especially for white wine, the quality of the wine pairing was  not in line with the one of the dinner. As said, everything else was just perfect.

In conclusion: to be reserved for a special occasion, a romantic rendez-vous, a family gathering or someone you want to spoil, Lea Linster might be a “classic” Michelin starred restaurant, but does not fail to impress, above all for the unforgettable touch of the Chef. We had a remarkable food and personal experience, to be kept in our memories until next visit.

 

Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People: Kristy Thibodeau

It is time for another interview of our series “Barefoot in Luxembourg meets people”, today it is the turn of Kristy Thibodeau, an American masseur and blogger living in Metz.

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Hi Kristy, do you want to introduce yourself to start?

Sure. My name is Kristy Thibodeau and I am originally from Boston, MA USA. I am working in Kirchberg, Luxembourg as an English speaking sports masseur. I have my doctorate in physical therapy, am a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and The Fit Wanderluster blogger.

Sounds interesting! Could you describe us a bit better your work?

I work at LuxChiro and my specialty is sports and deep tissue massage. Comments I’ve heard from clients is that my specialty is difficult to find in Luxembourg. I focus on sports rehabilitation, trigger point and myofascial release, and am certified in the Graston Technique, but can also focus on specific muscular tension release that cause pain or headaches. The massage can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable but I do it with a smile! I have experience working with the fatigued desk-job worker, amateur athletes to professional basketball, football, cyclists, marathon and triathletes.

So I see why – with all these professional workers in Luxembourg – people might be attracted by your work…

My specialty is taught from the States and my experience in sports outpatient orthopaedic rehabilitation gives me a very strong foundation on anatomy and kinetics. I have also run a dozen semi-marathons and 8 full marathons, so I have full understanding on the demands and taxing work that can affect the body with sports training. My hope is also to develop an running injury prevention education course for beginners and intermediate runners in Luxembourg, if there is enough interest.

What do you enjoy mostly about your work?

I love meeting so many people, from so many backgrounds and nationalities and hearing their stories and goals to achieve personal bests from their first 5k to marathon.

Talking about your Luxembourg background, how long have you been living in Luxembourg?

Currently, I’m living in Metz, France and commuting to Luxembourg 3-4 days a week.

What is your most beloved place in the city?

My hope is to move to Luxembourg in the very near future because of the diversity and accessibility to so much culture, options for traveling, outdoor activities, music concerts, etc. The options are endless and comparable to Boston lifestyle.

Nice to hear! And what is your favourite restaurant in Luxembourg?

La Boqueria

What is your preferred night-life spot in Luxembourg?

Hitch or The Tube

What do you like about Luxembourg life?

I love the broad range of professionals with diverse nationalities and the welcoming attitudes of the locals. Also, I’m a big fan of the outdoor music festivals and exploring the forests and countryside to go running.

What do you miss here and you would like to change or improve?

I miss living near the beach and really, really good seafood in the summer (lobster rolls!)

What is the best place you visited in a range of 200 km from the city and that you would suggest for a daily trip?

I’m biased as I live in Metz, but the city is great for shopping, dining, bars, amazing architecture, beautiful parks and walking/biking paths. Also, Reims, for champagne tastings of course!

What is the best adjective to describe Luxembourg?

Intriguing.

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Business Lunch at Amélys Restaurant, Le Royal Hotel, Luxembourg city

How blissful is to spend a lunch break in town during summer time? Since my office moved out of the city centre, I more and more appreciate this pleasure.

Last week, together with Patricia, we decided for a farewell in style before each other holidays, booking at the renewed Le Royal Hotel restaurant, Amélys. Since the great and advertised restoration that took place during the year, I was really curious to visit the new restaurant and, above all, to see their  new settings. We used to stop off at Le Royal in the past, for business meetings or after-work, but I was always a bit sceptic, due to its old fashion set-ups.

Indeed, when we entered the hall, it was extremely refreshing: seeing how the hotel has now a brand new imprinting. .The luxury signature that has always impregnated its wall stays, but has been met now by a trendy influence and a cool design – something that will not be past next year, but mix and shake, in the perfect combination, classical opulence and contemporary fashion.

We headed to the restaurant Amélys, that is now pleasantly bright. We were welcomed with a radiant smile and accommodated on the terrace – we learned in Luxembourg that when the sun shines, you have to take advantage of it!

We were handle the daily menu and the “a la carte” one and explained we could choose between the weekly proposal – in case you are in a hurry, they are available to prepare and serve you business lunch in one hour – or the classic menu. We decided to go with the suggestions and we started with a glass of Luxembourgish white wine, served at the table from the bottle.

The menu consists in a buffet of vegetarian (and fish) starter, one main dish and a dessert. You can choose only a main or a combination of the three.

From the starters buffet, I had an egg pot, a smoked fish gluten-free roll and an avocado and shrimps cocktail. Patricia had a gazpacho and a feta salad. We could (and wanted!) to take more – you can refill your dish how many times you want basically – but while standing at the buffet, we saw a lovely dessert passing by, so we decided to keep some space till the end of the lunch!

I continued then with the meat dish, an amazing beef steak prepared with artichokes and olives, while Patricia had the cod filet. I accompany my dish with a light red wine..

Finally, we had our dessert: a chocolate macaroon with ice-cream and a fruity cake and sorbet for Patricia. An espresso was the perfect conclusion of our lunch.

Find some pictures of our lunch followed by my usual impressions.

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What I loved about Amélys restaurant:

  • The food was superb: even classic choices like shrimp cocktails or the beef steak are prepared in a refined way, that makes them never boring. Portions are more than fair and the presentation is lovely.
  • The starters buffet is a very alternative concept: I was at the beginning a bit questioner, as I am not a fan of buffet. Indeed – you could have already noted it from the pictures – the Amélys idea of buffet is very far from everything you might have seen so far in Luxembourg: the stands are clean and refrigerate, the food choice is wide and has a great attention to dietary restrictions (vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options).
  • Service is a real five stars item here: from the welcome, to the wine, to the dishes explanations, everything is cared in details. As I was still finished my red wine, they proposed to wait to bring my dessert and when the sun went missing, they turned on the heating on the terrace only for us. All small attentions that are highly appreciated.
  • The price is more than reasonable for the service you get and for the quality of the food and you have several options, including a la carte one, for different budget.

What I liked a bit less about Amélys restaurant:

  • Our lunch was indeed perfect: we really enjoyed every single minutes. There would be nothing actually I will change , and I shared the same feeling with Patricia. I am really looking forward to visit Amélys again for dinner and for their Sunday brunch.

In conclusion: We had the perfect lunch time at Amélys restaurant: the new settings of Le Royal Hotel, refined environment, tasty and eclectic kitchen, enjoyable service. I definitely recommend it for business lunches and gathering with friends,

Summer lunch at Beet, Luxembourg city

Finally, after having postponed the meeting several times, I managed to meet Sunny over lunch in town and to try the (now not so) new vegetarian restaurant Beet. The restaurant is located on the place Guillaume, just next the Tourism Office, has a quite large terrace – that was empty due to the cold weather – and two main rooms inside.

Sunny booked a table for 1.15 pm and we were assigned one in the back room – the restaurant was really packed but the service was on point for a quick lunch.

The menu has several options – only vegan and vegetarian – mainly divided between burgers and falafel, in different combinations. I went for a vegetarian patty with eggplants – accompanied by fries and salad – and a thai infusion – warm water with lemongrass and ginger. Sunny had a crispy burger and an home made apple juice.

After the pictures of our lunch you will find my usual impressions.

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Things I loved about Beet:

  • My burger was very tasty as well as the fries. You can choose an homemade sauce to accompany them and I had the chilli one. OMG – it was to die for! If your idea about vegetarian food is still stuck to bland raw vegetables, here you will definitely change your mind. I have seen also nice dessert going around – a pity I was too full to try one.
  • Drink selection is also good, wide and insolite. My infusion – even if a bit difficult to handle – was perfect for my lunch.
  • The ambience is fresh and minimal, same than the service. I would have loved to be on the terrace, a shame about the weather.

Things I liked a bit less about Beet:

  • As general impression, I found it a bit on the pricey side – 14 euro per the burger and 4 euro for a water infusion. I anyway perfectly see this could be mainly due to the very central area and prices would be different if the location was different.
  • Similarly, for my personal tastes, I find the place perfect for a lunch, but it definitely miss some atmosphere for a dinner.

In conclusion: Beet was a very nice discover. I will definitely come back again to try other burgers on the menu and the falafel dishes. With its minimal style and fast service, I find it perfect for a girly lunch in town.

 

Following the hype: Gastronomica Luxembourg

In the last couple of years, I noted less and less traditional concepts open their doors in Luxembourg and left the place to hybrid forms of business, similarly to what happened already in most of the other European capital. So – not just bar, but spaces integrated with shops, not just restaurants but also library, meeting point, concert hall.

It happened also recently that there are places most of my friends have been already to and I did not feel interested to visit yet, until a certain point when their descriptions became so pressing, I decide to check in myself.

Gastronomica Luxembourg, located in the area of Hollerich, is a clear example of both cases: a shop for Italian authentic products but also a restaurant and an after-work spot. A place most people I know loves, due to its products and its prices – this is a recurring reason, indeed.

So, on Wednesday night, after a business meeting with Jenni, I propose her to give Gastronomica Luxembourg a try. Their Facebook page was sponsoring an after-work on that day, so we headed there around 7.30 pm.

The restaurant is located in the complex of “Troc”, so we parked our car outside and walked in the building. The area is not very fashionable: the restaurant is overlooking a parking space and the atmosphere is very post-industrial..

We expected to find an Italian aperitif style, indeed when we entered everybody was seated at the tables having kind of dinner. Without hi or hello, a waiter came to us, asked if we reserved and, when we say no, he pushed us on a table next to the fridge. Actually – we said, we prefer staying outside.

We move on the “terrace” and we took place on a old and dusty couch. The table in front of us was dirty but the waiter did not take care of it. We asked for two glasses of white wine and the waiter shortly came back with a half litre pitcher – he did not ask if we had preferences for the wine nor if the pitcher was fine. He then proposed us a mixed platter to accompany the wine and we accepted. The platter indeed, even if composed only by cold items (charcuterie, cheese, salads, pickles) took ages to come.

The food was very good and there was a quite good selection. Mostly cold cuts and cold salads, as well as some pieces of cheese and grilled  vegetables. The quantity was huge for two persons and was accompanied by a huge basket of Italian bread.

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During the further hour we spent outside nobody came to check on us. We got to draw  the attention of the waiter waiving to him inside. We ordered some more wine and a small cheese platter to conclude.

The wine he took to us lately was different from the first one, randomly: the waiter just told us, he decided to give you some different wine – I wonder that was just the bottle they had open at that time-.  Then, when the cheese arrived, he placed the platter on top of  the fist one, that was still unfinished and with some pieces left. I can perfectly understand the needs of not being formal, but that was a bit too much.

We finished the cheese and the wine and as the night was pretty chilli, we went inside to pay. I wanted to offer my friend the night, so I just asked the waiter how much it was in total and handle him my debit card. He said “15 euro” – no ticket and no menu with prices.. -. I found it incredibly low, but I supposed we paid only the wine and indeed everybody was describing it as very cheap place. I was leaving the room when the waiter shouted at me: “and you friend is not paying?”. Sorry – I said – I supposed it was the total, in fact I asked you “how much we pay in total”.. He told me he split it already for us – who asked? Gosh.

To sum up, what I liked about Gastronomica:

  • The only thing I liked was the food that was pretty good and definitely cheap. Unfortunately, having a small bill is not the only important thing when going to a restaurant – otherwise it would be the same buying nice products and have them at home.

What I did not like about Gastronomica:

  • Even if the place is brand new, details are left there, unattended. The worst I have seen in the restroom an unattached Ikea mirror left in front of the wc. The idea about having spare furniture to fill the “terrace” is not that bad, but still a bit of cleanness would help.
  • Service is unbelievable: table left dirty, no questions about the wine, wine randomly changed, dishes left on the dirty one, no bill……

In conclusion: I perfectly see people like Gastronomica for its good Italian food and cheap bill. At the same time, while I understand a place like this should not be formal, to me the service is an important part of the dining out experience and here was completely missing. I don’t feel I will come back any time soon.

Sunday for Pizza: Pulcinella, Mamer, Luxembourg


On Sunday, after having spent most of the day at home recovering from some great party, we decided to keep the kitchen shut down and have a pizza outdoor.
As part of the discover of the restaurants around Luxembourg city, we decided to head to Mamer to Pulcinella. We booked a table at 8 pm for the terrace.
The restaurant Pulcinella is less than 15 minutes driving from Luxembourg city – on Sunday, at that time, motorway was very calm. You have to park in the streets and we actually found a spot only few minutes from the restaurant. We were accompanied to our table and given the menu. The terrace was quite full and in less than half hour it became totally packed  – we did well booking in advance.

We had some water and diet coke and after a while ordered our pizzas – I went for a Carrettiera – with spicy salami, cherry tomatoes and arugula – while hubby when for a Capricciosa and a glass of Primitivo wine.

Hereafter you will find the pictures and my impressions.

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Things I liked about Pulcinella restaurant:

  • Pizza was good and prepared with fine Italian ingredients. I enjoyed as well the chilli oil that was left on the table.
  • Service was simple but effective. Even if we had only two pizzas – and hubby a small dessert at the end – the dinner was very relaxed – arrived at 8 pm, we left at 11 pm.
  • Bill was extremely fair: 2 pizzas, 2 water, 1 coke, some wine for hubby and a dessert were in total 54 euro. With that price, in some places in the city you barely have 2 pizzas.

Things I liked a bit less about Pulcinella restaurant:

  • The terrace is on the main street, therefore can be somehow noisy and this I have to say was the only negative point.
  • Then to go the extra mile, it would have been really nice to receive some small amuse-bouche (even some bruschetta with garlic and oil, nothing too sophisticated) in the quite long wait for the pizza.

In conclusion: Even if without a special wow factor, Pulcinella was the perfect place for a relaxed Sunday authentic Italian pizza. Very competitive prices and a kind service, I would definitely recommend it for a pizza with friends.

Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People: Anneke & Farrah

For a new chapter of our Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People, today it’s the turn of Anneke Hudson and Farrah Gillani, founders of City Savvy Luxembourg.

Credit: Pippa Herbert
Credit: Pippa Herbert

Anneke, Farrah, you are welcome to start this interview introducing yourselves!

In a previous life, Anneke worked as a lawyer in financial services. Half English, half Dutch, born in Kenya and raised on several continents, it’s the multicultural side of Luxembourg that appeals to her. 7 years and 2 children later, Farrah walked into her life with a fun new proposal and City Savvy Luxembourg was born.

Farrah came to Luxembourg from London in 2013 with a 7-year stint in sunny Stockholm in between. Combining a degree from Cambridge University in English Literature with marketing and sales experience at a top FMCG firm, Farrah was delighted to fuse her passion for writing and service together in what is now City Savvy Luxembourg.

Can you tell Barefoot in Luxembourg readers a bit more about City
Savvy Luxembourg?

City Savvy is the online magazine for English-speakers in the Grand Duchy! We seek to inform, entertain and simplify the lives of Anglophones living in, moving to or visiting Luxembourg. We try to combine the style of a glossy, the substance of a journal and the eye of an event planner. People seem to like it!

Every Thursday we have our ‘What’s On’ for both those with or without kids; we have a weekly giveaway and feature inspiring people in the Duchy. We also boast have some hilarious expat columns, restaurant and bar suggestions, and of course a big family section. So if you’re looking for where to do yoga, how the Luxembourgish school system works or have a giggle over expat life, we’re there for you!

Why should people in Luxembourg be attracted by your magazine?

A study commissioned by the EC in 2012 claimed over 200,000 English speakers  in Luxembourg, although English is not one of the three official languages. Despite this, there are relatively few resources providing relevant and up-­to-­date information for Anglophones here and it is challenging for these people to connect to the services, the places and products they require. City Savvy is their meeting point.

What are the best three things about City Savvy Luxembourg and what do you enjoy about working there?

We love meeting new people and Luxembourg is a melting pot of talent and diversity. There are contributors who have their own specialty, be it comedy or research; and then there are the ‘Extraordinary Expats’ and ‘Celebs in the City’ that we feature in the magazine itself. And of course we love working with each other!

We also love helping people, which sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Our happiest moments are when we receive positive feedback from our readership about a service we’ve alerted them to or made them laugh out loud. We publish counselling articles by a qualified therapist, which are tailored specifically to solve expat problems and the response is phenomenal.

Our privilege is to showcase Luxembourg. There are so many wonderful things about living in the world’s only Grand Duchy: the amazing food, the fun festivals, the child-friendly living. Some of the world’s most talented people live here; others visit via the Philharmonie, Grand Theatre and Rockhal. It has all the benefits of a small community and world-class city combined.

Coming back to your Luxembourg background, how long have you been living in Luxembourg?

Anneke has been in Luxembourg for just over 8 years; Farrah only 3. We’re staying.

What is your most beloved place in the city?

Anneke loves to walk through the Petrusse Valley. It’s a great place to take visitors, walking down from the Golden Lady (after taking in the view) towards the Grund. There is lots to see and do on the way, and a drink on the small terrace at Scotts Pub is a perfect end.

Farrah has a soft spot for Vianden – it’s got the most romantic castle, an open-air swimming pool, a cable-car with views over the valley and of course, the nut festival!

What is your favourite restaurant in Luxembourg?

Anneke’s favourite restaurant for a takeaway is Restaurant Tandoori in Beggen, and for a special treat it has to be Ma Longue Sourit in Moutfort.

Farrah’s introduction to fabulous Portuguese food started at Lisboa II, in Bonnevoie. She’s also partial to Le Sud, when the wallet allows.

What is your preferred night-life spot in Luxembourg?

On a sunny evening Anneke loves to sit outside at Go Ten, having a glass of rose and watching the world go by. Farrah loves Clausen as it offers so many options for a cocktail under the fairy lights.

What do you like about Luxembourg life?

Since having children Anneke appreciates the slower pace of life here; the long lunches, the better working hours, the many events and festivals which are always served with plenty of cremant.

The opportunity to see so many theatre shows from London, Paris and even New York is what appeals to Farrah. For a tiny country, Luxembourg definitely punches above its weight!

What do you miss here and you would like to change or improve?

Anneke was living in London before she moved to Luxembourg, and being a city girl at heart, she really misses having everything on her doorstep and all that London has to offer. London is a world class city and it’s hard to compete with! And of course, good ole British humour.

Farrah misses good public transport. Coming from London and Stockholm she never needed a car and it’s been a really bad move, health-wise, to have to rely on it so much here. It would take her husband an hour to get to work if he relied on the buses; it takes 8 minutes by car!

What is the best place you visited in a range of 200 km from the city and that you would suggest for a daily trip?

Being half Dutch Anneke loves visiting the Netherlands, and Maastricht is one of her favourite cities near Luxembourg. It’s fun, young and beautiful .. and just under 200km away!

The Moselle Valley is just beautiful; even more so when you’ve had a bottle of wine from the nearest vineyard.

What is the best adjective to describe Luxembourg?

Cultured.

IMG_0233 A&F gate1 credit Pippa Herbert IMG_0220