Tasto: an Italian experience at your door

Couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity to be invited by Giovanni at the launch party of Tasto, a website who promises to delivery Italian products at your door.

I did not know what to expect: while on one side I am a voracious online shopping user when it comes to clothing and kitchen appliances – that actually represents 80% of my purchases out of alcohol and food every month -, I have only been deceived in the past by grocery shopping experiences. In the specific, concerning what it is available in Luxembourg, Luxcaddy has unjustified sky-high prices while at Auchan-drive I have always been provided by products extremely close to their due date – last time, I picked up my delivery at 7 pm and I had some diary products which expiry date was the following day.

I also didn’t know what to expect because in the press release of the event it was mentioned a show cooking and a tasting session – so definitely something different from what I have been seeing so far.

Indeed, what I attended, at the end, was more a pleasant evening at friends’ place and not a formal press event.

Giovanni welcomed us in a lovely, secret location and seated around the kitchen, with a bubbles glass in one hand – as there is something to drink in all the great stories – and the mobile for taking pictures in the other, we were explained the background of Tasto.

Tasto is born from the passion for Italian products and decades of experience within the food distribution of his founder. The name, Tasto, that is symbolically represented in the website logo, is an instrument coming from a horse bone used to pinch a ham and check its maturity.

On Tasto, you can find products that might be available in some supermarkets in Luxembourg but also niche specialties for different Italian regions.

Giovanni used several products available for purchase on Tasto to prepare us a delicious dinner. As appetizers, we had linen seeds grissini rolled in Coppa, Parmigiano cheese with almonds and bell peppers cream –  my favorite -, tarallini, mozzarella cheese with truffle honey. This was followed by Bresaola with oregano and olive oil and a pizza prepared with a ready to go base, ham and artichokes.

As main, we had a typical dish from Apulia, orecchiette prepared with cime di rapa (a South Italian variety of broccoli), anchovies and crumbs of taralli. Finally, we concluded our dinner with a cheesecake in a glass. I chose the one with hazelnut.

The entire dinner was amazing and you could definitely not tell that was prepared “out of a box”.

My personal highlights were definitely:

The base for pizza: while you cannot definitely compared it to the pizza you have at the restaurant, this to me is an extremely valid alternative to frozen pizza – you wake up drunk on Sunday morning, this is very easy to prepare, request the minimum effort and it is ready in 5 minutes. I can confirm because I did it the Sunday after the event ūüôā Also, it is perfect to keep in the fridge when you have unexpected guests and you want to prepare something quick to accompany a drink but not totally industrial.

The cherry tomato sauce: this is the product where mostly I noted the difference with the commercial correspondent product. You can taste Italy and sun in this sauce and it is a product I would be really happy to pay the surplus compared to the supermarket.

The olive oil: this is another product which is slightly different in price compared to what you can find in store but you can feel (smell and taste) the difference. I would definitely keep a jar at home to be used “raw” and give dishes a very different touch.

The ricotta cheesecake: I am not very much into sweets, you know, and above all I am not into industrial ones. A jar of Nutella can get totally untouched to the expiry date in my flat, but this cheesecake was to die for. Creamy, tasty, intense. This is a product that I would definitely recommend you to buy but I will not buy myself, as still want to fit my clothes ūüôā

So: why should you order on Tasto instead of buying Italian products at the supermarket?

  • Tasto is at your door (at home or at the office) within 72 hours from your order. The package is eco friendly and includes for fresh products a specific packaging with dry ice that keeps your products cool up to 5 days.
  • Tasto ensures your ordered product to have at least 12 days till the expiration for fresh products and 3 months for dry products (so, no products due the day after delivery ūüôā ). The invoice will include the detailed expiration dates of your order.
  • Delivery is free over 25 Eur order (in Luxembourg, Germany, France, Belgium, UK, The Netherlands and Italy). So you can even send your pasta stock to your holiday rental home on the Belgian coast where you don’t have big supermarket.
  • On your first order, 50% is off. Off everything. Isn’t this already a good reason at least to try?
  • There is a specific category called “Take away” where you have products you can take to the office for lunch and just warm up in a microwave. The average price is 5 Eur, that is a huge saving compared to the spent you have buying sandwiches or eating out for lunch in Luxembourg city.
  • And if you are vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free, Tasto has a specific category for you as well.

Tasto aims to be not only a website where you buy occasionally, but the one you can buy most of the products you need in the day to day life. You can stock up pasta and tomato sauce for example, what is more convenient than have it delivered at your door instead of loading and unloading your car?

Let me know if you will use Tasto and how do you find it. And have a spoon of ricotta cheesecake for me as well please ūüôā

 

Advertisements

Tailors Concept Restaurant, Luxembourg City

Here we go! I am closing my busy season at work and coming back at full-time blogging with probably the least expected review yet. If you are following the Facebook page of the blog you are aware of the background – and, if not, you can find the post somewhere there.

You know, I never stop at the first bad experience – I have at least a dozen before I can feel satisfied. This happens with restaurants – and with men, definitely. How bad¬†someone can be, I should have at least couple of sips of it, I am not happy otherwise. I am the queen of disappointments and the favorite target of my friends “I told you”.

With the “no same day reservation” in my mind, I decided to book quite in advance at Tailors Concept for dinner.¬†Look guys, just to be transparent: this review refers fully to my restaurant experience. My repulsion for the idea about having to reserve in advance for drinks is still pretty strong – even if I am not ruling out the possibility that I will try¬†also the Speakeasy¬†at some point in the future.

Now. We got at the restaurant around 7ish. It is located in the prime heart of Limpertsberg, this sepia tones, residential landscape, in a quiet, still postcard. You walk the door of a suits shop, tailor-made, where you can just have a glimpse of people, seated. If you didn’t know this was a restaurant, you would have expected them to be business men discussing on the couch of the shop, while waiting to have their measurements taken.

The restaurant area is dominated by a huge wooden counter and the atmosphere is extremely old fashion – I love it. I am feeling like getting into a movie, where suddenly I am not wearing my Isabel Marant dress anymore, but a midi, wide skirt and a fascinator and my boss is changing into a charming man with moustache (no, not the one you are thinking of, thanks).

We are taken to our table and ordered an aperitif – went for bubbles, as we were celebrating the closing of the season. Shortly after, we were given the menu, that is pretty wide and offers a dish for almost every taste – raw fish, including oysters, pasta, an astonishing selection of meat -.

As I normally do when I visit for the first time¬†a restaurant with so much on the plate – not just metaphorically – I went for the tasting menu. There are two versions, a shorter one –¬†mainly meat¬†based – and a longer one – mainly fish based. This solution to me is an excellent one for couple of reasons: you have the possibility to try more than two dishes (starter and main) and it is also great if you are in-between some choices. Also, in the tasting menu, you normally have smaller portions, that it is also positive if you end up not liking something – so you don’t have a full dish to finish in front of you. And, lastly, I would expect that tasting menu¬†to be¬†a “best of”, so the greatest expression of the chef, perfect to understand – or at least try to – its philosophy.

We had a first welcome from the chef composed by a cheese gauffre, panzanella and foie gras. Cappuccino of cod and Croissant. King Crab Salad. Cappellacci with Prawns. Risotto with Prawns, Cacio e Pepe, Lime. Cod with tomato, olives, capers, garlic. Mini-pastries with ricotta & red berry and cannoli with Marsala. A sweet bread to share with vanilla butter, bitter orange jam and zabaione cream.

We closed with two espresso – accompanied by some more sweets (salted chocolate and chocolate truffle).

Total bill read 296 Euro, of which 85 each were for the menu, 64 Euro for a bottle of Pouilly-Fuisse we had over dinner, 20 euro for two bottles of water and 16 eur/19 eur for the champagne glasses.

Pictures of¬†my dinner at Tailors Concept, followed¬†by¬†my impressions – there’s always a pause when the jury goes out to consider its verdict*.

(I apologies for the quality of the pictures, that it is even worst than my usual shitty ones, but unfortunately the restaurant has very dark lights and being with my boss I could not stretch around having her to wait and giving out my second life as a blogger..).


*This is only a quotation from the favorite scene of my favorite movie. If you comment and get it, I will give away¬†couple of¬†invitations for Luxembourg Nightlife Awards night – just as I don’t like the boring “post and re-post” giveaway and I am not your¬†usual blogger¬†ūüôā Competition is open till end of September 2019.

What I loved about Tailors Concept:

  • I loved the atmosphere. As said, you feel like you are getting into a costume drama and you expect Colin Firth to walk by at any second with a walking stick and a top hat. I loved the idea of the restaurant hidden behind a shop – even if in Luxembourg secrets are easily out – and I loved the interior design of the place – reminding me easily the great times in the blue Bob Bob Ricard booths, in a modern, restored Orient Express.
  • Food was lit. I am being honest saying that my expectations were not set high, as some of my best friends did not have great experiences there. But, jez, happy for once we had different opinions in food and not only in men. I was flabbergasted. Some dishes were definitely better than the other – I loved the cappellacci, on the other side the crab was fine but not memorable. But what surprised me most was the bravery about some mix and matches, as some dishes – the risotto and the cod cappuccino for example – were so over the edge to almost digress into arrogance. Well, that limit has been well touched but never crossed over. Like taken out the courage to stick out almost to the limit of the ravine to admire the best of the gorge. I think we had the best in those dishes, and the combination¬†between the cheese, the lime and the prawns in the risotto was almost divine – and strong, you have to consider that.
  • Service was definitely fine. Actually I did not want to include this point, but I received couple of messages from followers pointing out that the service there for them¬†was superficial and rude. I did not experience that. Actually the service was on point, on the casual side – that is definitely my favorite option, between a¬†posh service and an “Italian” style one – well, you know what I mean… Moreover, I have to add, that both our credit cards got declined – this will request another post, so stay tuned – and they were so nice to prepare us an invoice to pay the day after. So – really, nothing to complain.

What I liked a bit less about Tailors Concept:

  • The place is not cheap definitely and it is not the kind of place you just walk by when you don’t want to cook – and you cannot, as you have to reserve in advance ūüėõ
    Still, the price for our menu of 5 courses plus several bites was definitely appropriate and I did not feel at all that I overpaid Рwell, actually I felt the price of the menu was a steal compared to what we had. A la carte, it might be a slightly different discussion, but still I would personally prefer paying the prime for eating here than giving away 25 Euro for eating a pizza Рgood and everything, but still pizza Рfew blocks down.
  • Having confirmed that for me the price is not an issue at Tailors as you get what you pay for, I would say that for me the downsides were only two: first one is the recurring one of my reviews – tables being so f*ck*ng close. We were definitely lucky yesterday as the restaurant was not packed, so the table next to us was empty. I was also with my boss, so I did not care if the people next to me would have listened to our debt restricting plan for Ireland or for my next Turkish trip. Still, it would have been less pleasant if I was out on a date – also because most of my recent dates ended up in a fight LOL – so not pleasant for our neighbors. As said, this is a recurring issue in Luxembourg, so nothing new here.
  • Lastly, I really would have expected a better wine card. I know that the place is famous for cocktails, but I would have really liked to have a wider choice, in line with the amazing food we had. As wine is important part of my preference for a restaurant or the other, I would say this might be the only blocking point for me to come back soon.

In conclusion, as I felt this review took ages to be over and I digressed quite a bit, I loved the food at Tailors Concept and I loved the place. Food is sophisticated and, for some side, subversive. It is the perfect place for a business dinner and if you feel like splurging for a special occasion. Atmosphere is lovely and service informal.

Kobe Sushi, Luxembourg City

The last couple of months have been hectic. My working schedule during this time of the year is draining me, I have been travelling for work and several projects, including the Luxembourg Nightlife Awards jury and the organization of my birthday party, have been keeping me busy. So, during week ends, the only thing I wanted was to stay in, have healthy food and do some sport Рand sleep.

Finally last week end, even if I was coming back from an overloaded week in Zurich, Mary Ann was able to convince me to go out and we took the occasion to book at Kobe, a new sushi restaurant right in the city center, which journey I have been following on social media since the day 1. While on one side I am definitely very glad restaurants are starting to anticipating their openings on the net, on the other side I am afraid this might award places with the best social media manager and eventually not those with the best food, so I was very curious to try it.

At Kobe, you can book your table online: our reservation was at 8.45 pm and the place was full Рa couple trying to sneak in before us was sent back.

The location, as said, is right in the city center, few steps from the Grand-Duke palace, with a minimal, clean and bright décor, mostly wooden, with sushi preparation on display and also seated places around the counter.

The menu has a pretty interesting list of starters, three combination platters (for one, for two and veggie), single portions rolls (signature, maki, spring rolls, nigiri, sashimi) and bowls.

We went for a portion of Japanese oysters (prepared with ponzu sauce, ikura, scallions, chili pepper and vinegar) as starter, followed by the mixed sushi – sashimi for one person (“The Lone Samurai”) and a portion of signature¬†rolls “Fuego” (prepared with crayfish, tuna tartare and spicy sides).

As for drinks, we had a bottle of Sake suggested by our waiter – dry, but an intense, pleasing floral note.

Pictures of our dinner, followed by my impressions, as usual.


What I liked about Kobe:

  • Our food was amazing. I would say that to me currently this might be the best sushi in Luxembourg. I loved the fact the Japanese style is kept, without too edgy mixes, and you can still feel the fish in each and every rolls. Our mixed platter had a fair balance between types, with classic numbers and special combinations. The oysters were OMG – I just wished I knew it ahead so next time I will order two portions (maybe three).
  • You have a great selections of cocktails, wines and sake, for different budgets. Our total bill reads 145 euro, of which the biggest part was for the sake bottle. Our platter for one portion was huge – I would say that if you don’t have a big appetite the portion for two that we saw on other tables might be too much. So you don’t definitely have to splurge, if you don’t feel to (this is normally not my case when it comes to alcohol, but just for you to be aware ūüôā ).
  • Service was really nice and polite, on the informal side and this makes the place really relaxed, I would say even good for lunch after shopping errands, as well as for a week-end date.

What I liked a bit less about Kobe:

  • I think if you know me a bit after all my reviews, you can already guess the reply from looking at the places from outside: tables are bloody too close and this is normally for me a bit turnoff. At the same time, we perfectly understand that with city center rents it might not be much different and food was outstanding, so I will easily ignore it this time. Still, it might not be the place for a business dinner discussion.
  • Our dinner was very pleasant and I loved the place and the food. If I only have to find one negative point, but you know I am very picky, the temperature inside was really too hot. Just in case, wear light clothes ūüôā

In conclusion: Kobe¬†is a new, informal sushi place right in town. Their sushi is really raising the bar for sushi restaurants in Luxembourg and I would definitely indicating it as my favorite sushi place in town so far. Perfect for a girls night out, friends’ gatherings, informal dates.

A coffee with… Enza Fuzio

When I discussed with Corie next interview to publish on the blog, the one you are about to read today, I was initially perplexed. Corie in fact proposed me to meet¬†Enza Fuzio, the owner of Ottika Enza. I was told that even if she is neither a chef nor a restaurateur, she is still a very central figure in Luxembourg lifestyle (and nightlife). Enza was born here in Luxembourg, by Italian parents, Corie added, she might have many things to tell you, ‚ÄúI am sure you will enjoy meeting her!‚ÄĚ

I trusted her and went straight to Rue Aldringen. Finding my way around Royal-Hamilius construction site, that is evolving visibly every single day and totally changing the skyline of the city. Arrived at Ottika Enza, the first question that comes to my mind is ‚Äúhow did I manage never noticing this shop?‚ÄĚ ‚Äď indeed I pass here in front a thousand times per day.

Ottika Enza is a small but cozy space where the original mood of the glasses blends with the passion that its owner, Enza Fuzio, has for pop art ‚Äď and you definitely cannot miss it. It is also the only eyewear store in Luxembourg to sell the Italian Independent brand. And Enza, around it, has created a community or, as she loves to say, a fan club, built up around the passion for glasses that are a bit special. Just like her.

9d570d26-dec9-4755-9aad-97404b0462ed

Angela: – Enza, good morning and many thanks for having accepted our invitation. Do you prefer to speak in Italian or in French?
From this question we move straight forward talking about orecchiette for a moment, as Enza, like me, is from Apulia.

Angela: How was your interest in glasses born?
Enza: It was my vocation since I was a child. When I was 10, I had to put the first glasses. I went to buy them from Ackermann, in Place de Paris, that does not exist anymore. I was so fascinated by those white coats and their know-how that at the age of 12 I told my parents “I want to be an optician when I grow up.” At the age of 19, after completing my studies and internship, I came to Optique Berg, where I worked for¬†28 years as if it was my own shop. Until 2 years ago, when it closed.

A: A year ago you opened this store, Ottika Enza, which is your own, this time for real. And which has a very strong personality. It is colorful, effervescent, and modern. What is your philosophy behind?
E: My shop must be like I am, I told myself before having clear ideas about how I would personalize it. I looked inside and I realized that I wanted to propose something different that would reflect me, which would bring out my passion for creativity and art. A passion dormant during the years when I was married. My then-husband did not believe in art and this curbed me in expressing myself to the maximum. Thank God he left…

A: Do you want to keep this part or do you prefer I cut it out?
E: Oh, you must include it for sure. Everyone tells me “you’ve become another person‚ÄĚ (after he left). This is totally incorrect: it just came out who I really was. All the path through the difficulties I’ve had to face in recent years has led to what I am today. A rebirth.

A: Tell me more about all these street art works displayed here in at the shop, in “your home”. Especially that giant mural!
E: I love photography. When the demolition of the old Hamilius area begun, I started taking pictures, I documented all the demolition, I had a huge archive at home and many people asked for it. So I was printing these pictures and putting them on display on the window of the other shop. The owner of the LTL, the company that made the demolition, passed casually in front and complimented me.
When they finally dug and they went more than 33 meters below ground, I was able to go down 2 times with them. They gave me a helmet and a vest and I was taking pictures. When down there, I saw all the graffiti that were there and they were going to be destroyed. At that point, I had a heartache. Center Aldringen has always been a meeting place for young people for ages; after school, we were meeting with friends to spend there our spare time. So it has been a crossroads for many generations who have left them the signs of their passage. So I asked if I could keep a small fragment of the wall to preserve a piece of art and to remember the past years…

A: Very brave! But I suppose it was impracticable, wasn’t it?
E: This is not over yet, listen! One day a guy who was working on the excavations sent me a picture of a fragment 2 meters long asking me if I wanted it. I wondered how he could take off the graffiti. End of the story, a few days later I got in the shop the whole marble plate with the amazing graffiti on it and that’s the original that you see on that wall. It is the only piece that has been saved from that underground gallery. It is also signed because I contacted the artist Al√ęxone Dizac, who now lives in Paris, and when he came to Luxembourg at the opening of an art gallery he passed by to sign it.


A:
This is a beautiful story! Thanks to your sensitivity you have given new life to this work of art that would have been destroyed! What about all the other works you have here?
E: Here in the shop there are works by Daniel Mac Lloyde who last year received the first prize Young Street Artist in Rotterdam. A work by Thomas Iser, realized a few days ago: it is a window with clouds, behind the window everyone sees his future, the one that he / she dreams, his / her dreams. Madeleine Putz realized my portrait. And then there is also a work by Jacques Schneider.

A: And from street art to design, tell me about Lapo Elkann, who brought you so much luck.
E: I met Lapo Elkann at a fair in Milan and I was the first to export his brand (Italian Independent) outside Italy. Now they tell me that I was their brand ambassador. I believed in this design, I wanted it and I promoted and still promote it. Now there is a wonderful relationship with all of them.

A: I know that there is such an interest in your choices that you even manage a community on social media.
E: Yes, when people are interested in a brand then they follow you, and for Lapo brand I created a small fan club and I often organize events in store. I love to invite my clients in a festive situation, allow them to see glasses without the obligation to buy them, drink some bubbles together. On those occasions, I choose a complete collection, I display it, then there is a DJ, prosecco, photographer … people come to drink a glass, look at the collection dancing¬†at the rhythm of music.

A: I know that in December you celebrated the first year of this eyewear boutique. Too bad not to have attended, but thanks for the invitation. How did it go?
E: It was Saturday and it was beautiful. I had the opportunity to show the glasses of Italian Independent collection made especially for me: a Unique Edition, 50 glasses with the skyline of the city of Luxembourg, as per their tradition when they open a single-brand store in other major cities of the world. On the frame there is written Unique Edition Ottika Enza Luxembourg. A hit. I have 25 pieces left.

408aaee3-41c0-4a62-b14e-98b805ab22f9

A: These glasses are beautiful. They really suits me as well J Let’s go out for a moment here. Royal Hamilius Project. How do you see it? What do you expect? Will Les Galeries Lafayette be a positive or negative news for the commercial activities around here?
E: Absolutely positive! The whole area will become a point of attraction, will be made totally pedestrian, other shops will move or come here; I do think it will be the most beautiful area in the city. They will open at the end of the year, November, and I cannot wait.

A: Not afraid of competition?
E: No, because my shop is not like the others. I have my clients who have been following me for years. Moreover, the spaces inside the Galeries Lafayette will not be easily accessible from an economic point of view and therefore I do not think that my small and independent competitors can afford those costs. And then I believe that healthy competition is only good.

73d39401-8b9f-46bc-8ece-26be9561f4e0

A: I agree with you. (We move back inside). From what I can see on social networks you are very involved in the nightlife of this city, you were born here and you have certainly seen its evolution. They tell me that Luxembourg was quite off before. Is that true? What has changed?
E: When we were young, we said that Luxembourg was dead. The places for ‚Äúgoing out‚ÄĚ were very few. Then, over time, there was a mega revolution. When I was a teenager, there were only 3 or 4 bars, Clausen was not there like we see it now. We had to travel out of Luxembourg most of the time for having fun. All the bars you see now have perhaps opened in the last 10 years.

A: What do you expect then between 2 or 5 years? Will it become a more attractive city?
E: Yes, thanks to the arrival of the University center. This has allowed the birth of many activities related to leisure, nightlife and catering. First the city center was dead because the youth was missing. Now it’s different. Too bad that the university center has developed in Belval and for me it was a huge mistake, but still an improvement that will bring so much more movement. Luxembourg is reborn!

7b4a1d0b-caa9-43f8-a57a-d835681aedec

A: And now a ritual question for us: what are your favorite places in the city? And in what genres, styles and tastes do you recognize yourself?
E: If I go out to the restaurants, I eat essentially Italian or French, I do not like exotic tastes.

A: So you’re not a sushi lover like me?
E: No no no!… (laughing) I love going to the Essenza restaurant, the owner is very special, I like him as a character, I like his restaurant, I like his cooking. He’s a bit crazy, like I am!

A: Coffee, ops, pardon, espresso, where you drink your favorite one?
E: At Caffè Torino. No doubt. We support Juventus in my family and in Turin we visited the original Caffè Torino, we became friends with everyone in Turin. When they opened here for me it became a little bit like home. Every morning I take the cappuccino there, the only one for me.

A: Enza thank you for this nice chat. Before going to drink our cappuccino at Caffè Torino which is nearby, tell me, when will your next event be?
E: Follow my Facebook page Ottika Enza and you will discover it.

Brilliant!

Here with this wonderful woman, sparkling, avant-garde, I go to warm up with a good cappuccino. I remained to chat with her twice as much time as was used for the interview. About restaurants, family, the courage of women, the power of awakening!
I know that this new friendship will bring me much more than this interview!

Jazz Night at Come √† la Maison

It has been quite a while since we had a girls’ night out and the perfect occasion came last week, when Come √† la Maison organized a Jazz Night at dinner.

The restaurant Come à la Maison is located just between rue de Hollerich and Merl and have lived over the past years an incredible ascending parabola, starting as an informal Italian eatery inside a furniture shop and expanding its activities in the same building, diversificating the offer, with a seafood corner (Come à La Mer), a wine corner (Come à la Cave) and more recently a pizza and a winter corner (Come à la Montagne).
I admit I have been there only couple of times for the brunch, which was and continues to be one of the main feature of the restaurant. The brunch offers a unique and amazing selection of dishes, from fresh oysters to homemade pasta, in a buzzy but posh atmosphere, perfect above all for a celebration or if you feel you want to have couple of prosecco to spice up your Sunday – and if you are hungry, as definitely does not come up as cheap.

Finally Рit was the time to try Come à la Maison for dinner. We got our reservation at 8.00 pm and we arrived quite on time despite the light snow. The concert was already on in the main dining room, where you get through a labyrinth of accesses. The restaurant, the whole one, including the other rooms and annexes, was packed.
We were given the menu and took our time to decide while enjoying the music. Finally, we went for a shared board of charcuterie and cheese with truffle. As main, I had a “Focaccia Burger”, Angela a pumpkins soup and Annamaria a beef tartare. We drunk a bottle of Valpolicella Ripasso Giusti and concluded with espresso and Amaro del Capo.

Now it is time for the pictures of the dinner, followed by my impressions of Come à la Maison.

Things I liked about Come à la Maison:

  • The atmosphere is mint, really. I can definitely understand this to be one of the main success factor of the place. It was kind of noisy, but in a positive way, very Italian, warm and pleasant. Perfect to unplug after a day at work and have fun.
  • I found the food offer to be nice, far from the boring ‚Äúalready seen‚ÄĚ in most of the Italian restaurants in Luxembourg, but without being too edgy. Mostly classic dishes but made modern and appealing, at list in the presentation. Also the wine list proposed fairly priced bottles next to great labels.
  • The service is very informal and perfectly in line with the place, waiters are smiley and kind and even if as said the place was packed we never felt forgotten.

Things I liked a bit less about Come à la Maison:

  • We had an extremely funny evening, made even more pleasant by the vibes of the Jazz Trio. I was positively surprised by the restaurant and above all by the atmosphere. Said that, would I come to Come √† la Maison only for its food? Honestly not. Food was definitely not bad, but was nothing too special that you feel the urge to eat again tomorrow and my friends shared my same view. In particular, the selection of cheese and cold cuts with truffle was delicious ‚Äď with basically zero input on the restaurant‚Äôs side ‚Äď while the main was slightly disappointing ‚Äď bland taste, zero fantasy, plain ingredients.

To sum up: I was positively surprised by the lovely atmosphere at Come à la Maison. While, to me, the food is not the main reason to visit the restaurant, the combination between the music, the atmosphere and the service makes the restaurant perfect for a night out or a celebration, where food might definitely not be the priority. Moreover I definitely love the events they propose, so watch out their Facebook page if you want to spend a different evening accompanied by good music.

Frida Cantina Mexicana, Luxembourg City

I have started 2019 with the resolution to try as much as new restaurants I can. Finally I got the first chance yesterday night and, even if I have still quite a backlog of reviews to publish, I decided to write about Frida Cantina Mexicana immediately today, instead of waiting any further.

So if you follow my stories on Instagram, you might have seen I planned to go to Tom Odell concert with Federica at den Atelier yesterday night. As the weather was incredibly cold, we decided to have a quick dinner in a place nearby den Atelier and unfortunately options on a Monday night are quite limited. So, as Frida Cantina Mexicana was already on my “to try” list and it is just few steps away from den Atelier and from where I live, we decided to go straight there¬†– without reservation, but, again, being a Monday night, we supposed it would have not been an issue.

We arrived at the door at 7 pm, with the restaurant busy but not particularly packed. We waited good 5 minutes on the door, with the two waiters in front of us at the bar totally ignoring the world outside, until the chef, from the kitchen window, noted us and called them. Not a good kick off, but after that we were seated.

The atmosphere was nice, colorful and informal, even if not particularly distinctive. We were handled the menu and made quickly our choice. We ordered one margarita and one beer, with a Mexican mix as starter to share, followed for me by an enchiladas with roja sauce (marked as extra spicy) and a chilaquiles for Federica.

From that moment on, it started be more a nightmare than a proper dinner. As said, we got in at 7 pm and got our food ordered by 7.15. While Federica’s beer and water were taken at the table after fair 10 minutes, my margarita took more than 20 to arrive. Finally, at 8.10, so almost one hour after we ordered, we got our starter to share: a basic dish of commercial tortilla chips, guacamole, pico de gallo and¬†re-fried beans. The dish was cold – as it should have been – with beans probably just out of the can (I can suggest you also the brand, as I buy the same at home). Would this kind of dish need one hour to be prepared in a restaurant not full? I doubt. As we were starving, we finished it in less than 5 minutes. I ordered a second drink – that again, took 15 minutes to be ready – and we waited for our main course, starting feeling pretty nervous about the time, as concert was supposed to start at 9 pm. We also were very surprised to discover that the table next to us, arrived when our starter was out, were served cocktails and main courses in less than 5 minutes. At that point, very nervous, we called the waiter to cancel the order and he promised us that the main course would have arrived in 2 minutes. So finally, after 1 hour 40 minutes in the restaurant, while served only a commercial dish of tortilla chips, we got our dinner.

I said to Federica: I would have easily forgotten about the wait, if food was worth it – you can clearly remember from some recent reviews. Unfortunately my dish was probably one of the most disgusting thing I have ever had in Luxembourg. This soggy wrap – where you cannot even taste the chicken – totally covered up with this that was far being a homemade roja sauce, but was more a mild-spicy watery ketchup. I got to half of the dish only because I really needed some food, but in other circumstances and without a gig to attend, I would have left the dish and have gone somewhere else to have proper food.

Total bill for 2 margarita, 1 beer, 2 half-liter bottles of water, 1 starter, 2 main read 75 Euro (37 Euro each).

Pictures of my dinner followed by my final impressions.


What I liked about Frida Cantina Mexicana:

  • This is probably the first review were I can honestly say: nothing at all. It was one of worst dinner I had in my life. I might have said that the margarita was pretty good, but if I have wait 20 minutes every time¬†I rather have something else to drink.

What I didn’t like about Frida Cantina Mexicana:

  • Service was horrible. It was not only a question of wait, 1 hour and 40 minutes to have a dish is already a great support to this evaluation, but also the attitude of the waiters was awful. They were both walking with their chins down, avoid the eye contact with the clients… how are you supposed to ask for another drink or whatever? Not to mention, when clients were leaving, dirty dishes were remaining on the table forever, basically until the next clients would have been seated.
  • Food was horrible. 12 euro to have a dish “to share” composed by a bunch of commercial tortilla chips, guacamole and pico de gallo (plain ones) and beans out of a can. Main course was something I want to forget as soon as I can: watery sauce and a soggy wrap that you cannot even understand what you were eating. I am not a fan of franchising, but I honestly can say that at the Tex-Mex in Place d’Armes food is way better (while still on the bad side) of the one I had at Frida.

In conclusion: my experience at Frida Cantina Mexicana was personally bad. While I can tell you that on the service side they might have been understaffed and having hired (very) inexperienced servers, on the food side there was nothing I would say it can be saved or improved. This is definitely on my list of places I would not go back even if it was the only restaurant open in town.

Luckily Tom Odell concert was amazing, so our night was not totally ruined.

A coffee with… Remy Manso

Sitting in a quiet restaurant off the station for a dinner-briefing, Corie asked me:  РWhat about Remy Manso for next interview?
– Who? -,¬†I replied –¬†clear signal I have moved to Luxembourg only¬†very recently.
РHe is the owner of numerous and interesting restaurants in Luxembourg. It manages at least a dozen, mostly Latin, including El Barrio.
– I love El Barrio. – I suddenly replied,¬†after that name caught my attention ¬†– So, of course I’m in -.
I followed up Corie’s contact with Remy and took an appointment with him – guess where? –¬†at El Barrio, which, at 11 am, had a surreal calm atmosphere – if you have been there in the night, you will definitely understand what I mean.
After few minutes¬†into our talk, I’ve found out that there could not have been a better chance to meet Remy, since he just opened his thirteenth place. Yes, you read that correctly. Piri Piri is number 13 restaurant of Manso Group. And it is a Portuguese restaurant, that aims to become the top of its genre in the city – but we will get there later.

Angela: I am so pleased to meet you, Remy, I cannot hide that I imagined you to be older. How can you be so young and have all this responsibilities? And managing so many restaurants and being so relaxed?
Remy: I work in a structured way, starting at 8.30 am with reservations and finishing at midnight after going around all the premises, or almost. I try to be present here and there every day, except one: Sunday, that¬†for me means football… (laughing) …And then I surrounded myself with trusted collaborators, without¬†them I would never have arrived here. You need to invest in¬†reliable people, the best ones and I have chosen them among my old friends.¬†We grew up and evolved together. It’s not only me¬†to succeed in¬†the business, but the whole team.
A: Do you give me a few names of your children?
R:¬†D√§iwelskichen, Batucada, Chimi Churri, Manso, JFK, The Game Utopolis, The Game Downtown, Toro Toro, El Barrio, El Gato, Boca Loca¬†in Echternach, Gringo’s and Piri Piri, the latest born.

A: Wow! So many! So we can talk about the plans for the future in a while.¬†Now I’m curious to know how you started. Can you tell me¬†more about your takeoff?
R: After school, I went to work with my father, who is no longer there. I learned a lot from him because he was a self-made man, really starting from nothing. He arrived in Luxembourg from Portugal in 1982 and in the evening, after work, he slept in the car. I owe him everything. I started out as a dishwasher, then as a cook and then, together, we managed Daiwelskichen and Batucada, both of which still exist. Growing up without skipping steps is very important. Only in this way can you learn to know how to really manager your business. There are many people who come from a completely different background and want to open a restaurant. They believe that it is enough to put their banner outside the door to make millions. It does not work like this. I have the notion of reality. I study the market and try to understand it, without ever believing I have fully understood it.

A: On the other hand, how do you choose what and where to open?
R: Here we are neither in Paris nor in Milan or New York. The population is limited and you have to study the territory and the public well before opening a gastronomic point of any kind. The people of Luxembourg invest a lot of their free time in the gastronomic circuits or in the cocktail bars, but, even if it is high-handed, they do not like to be fooled. The Luxemburgish do not give a second chance. So I open a new place only after doing an X-ray to the market. At that point, if I decide to start a new adventure I choose the best, point to quality, adequate and valuable interior design and I pay attention to the quality / price ratio. I do not mean to be a perfect owner, but I always work very honestly and this allowed me to get to the number 13 ūüôā

A: Yes! Quite right! You mentioned that with the new entry you are at a peak of 13. Tell me about the newborn!
R: It’s called Piri Piri and it’s a bomb. The kitchen, for the first time for my group, is Portuguese, like my homeland, but far from the one already proposed here in the city. Our culture is melancholic and evokes calm and sadness. This is why I have always preferred to open local Brazilian, Argentinian, Mexican and Spanish. I like to dance and also mojitos¬†ūüôā But it was time to do something to pay homage to my father, who would have wished to open a restaurant with the flavors of his land. I also wanted to do something for the Portuguese community that is very large here. With my partners we had a lot of fun choosing the pottery and furniture, and I tested all the dishes. It is a restaurant completely different from what is already there in Luxembourg. Beautiful inside, with attention to the smallest details, with a traditional touch, but with a modern, refined and very rich design. Even the cuisine¬†has its roots¬†in Portugal, the flavors are authentic, but pervaded by a new twist. Some hints? The cod ceviche for example.

A: What does Piri Piri mean?
R: (Laughing). It’s a curious name, isn’t it? It is a spicy pepper typical of Portuguese cuisine. I chose it because it is very evocative.

A: Good luck then! So now we got a bit on the personal side. How can you be sure you differentiate one place to the other and you just don’t “copy paste”? I want to say: out of 14 restaurants, it takes imagination to avoid the same concept from happening again, doesn’t it?
R: Since working with my father, we have always¬†chosen to address to an audience that loves the “Latin fiesta“. And so from the local Brazilian, to Argentine meat, passing through Mexican cuisine, without forgetting the Mediterranean area, one thing is certain, in my restaurants there is always a common factor that is the caliente style and typical of the Latin culture, but with an always different menu. I choose some detail that differentiates them, so that each place has its own identity. And where the food proposal looks similar, it is the location to be different – in the city and out-of-town for example. Said that, I believe that El Barrio is the strongest of all, is the “maison m√®re” because here everything has been done to perfection, just thinking about the fact¬†that we have chairs¬†for 400 Euro each, we have 20 people only in the kitchen and we have a¬†kind of¬†meat that is the top: the wagyu beef. Maybe I will seem arrogant, but I think there is nothing better in the city for quality / price ratio. I must also add that a great job had been done before I arrived, when it was still La Boqueria. I’ve always been fascinated by this place, in fact I wanted to direct it many years ago, but I was too young and they did not take me seriously. Better like this! Now I’m more mature and able to manage it.

A: Tell me the truth Remy, do you have a place in your heart among all?
R: Yes, Manso Restaurant¬†occupies a special place. That’s where I put more about myself! The concept and the menu talk about me. Before and during the opening, in every place of the Mediterranean in which I went on holiday, I identified dishes that excite me most and put them in paper. Some dishes are Spanish, some Italian, some still Greek, and Portuguese and French are not lacking. But this choice was a mixed blessing! Do you know why? The “Mediterranean Cuisine” category is too vast and does not allow the Manso to have a well-defined identity. Usually the identity makes it the nationality of origin of the gastronomic proposal or the main ingredient of the menu. This is missing at the Manso. In the eyes of the public you can eat anything and everything, which is equivalent to nothing precise. So if at lunch I have a good customer basis mainly due to the offices nearby, in the evening we are penalized because people choose¬†to go there¬†they know exactly what to expect.

A: Oh, I’m sorry. Do you have a plan B?
R: Of course! Despite being in my heart, I will soon say goodbye to it!

A: Ah no, it was your favorite! And then will they become 12 again?
R: Noooo! Not at all! They will always be 13 because¬†Manso Restaurant¬†will turn into something else. And here’s the news for the year 2019 ūüėČ

A: Are you telling me that you have another opening in mind when you just opened Piri Piri?
R: Yes, yes. And yes, this will be an absolute novelty because for the first time I will be completely different from my kind to open a restaurant serving Greek cuisine. On the other hand, half of my members are Greeks. And we want to do it well! In the best way. We will also go to Greece to get ideas, so we will gain in authenticity and ideas.

A: Fantastic Remy. And when do you intend to open it?
R: We will start work in January.
A: Wow. I’m afraid that if we stay here to talk a little bit, you can make me a program of openings until 2030 …
R: Hahah no. I do not intend to reach 20, but creativity and the desire to do are certainly not lacking.

A: Thank you for your time Remy. It was a true pleasure meeting you.

I greet my interlocutor, but before going he shows me something that I adore. A nice piece of wagyu beef comes out of the kitchen to finish immortalized straight in my hands. Ok, I do not know what to put on my 2019 to try list first: Piri Piri or wagyu here at El Barrio. What would you say?

Pictures: Giacomo Salvemini (instagram.com/slv)