Ukelele, Clausen, Luxembourg

If you are following my blog, you have probably already realized my “restaurants to try” approach. I have a “to do” list with new openings and restaurants I have never been, but it often happens that if I don’t visit a restaurant immediately after the opening, I loose a bit of interest, as I have the impression my readers will not be extremely reactive, considering there might have been written already enough on the subject.

It was the case of Ukelele, this Thai corner located in Clausen, just off the Rives. I wanted to try it so much as soon as it opened, I lost the moment, for one reason or the other, and then everybody was so much talking about it that it went at the bottom of my “next restaurant”. What could I added if a general public idea is already wide-spread?

I love Thai food indeed and I tend to stick to ordering delivery from Bangkok Thai at the station – the place is a bit dodgy (sorry!), but the food is authentic and well priced, compared to other Thai restaurants I have tried in the city (not the time to mention now, but you can easily find in my reviews).

So – I have almost forgot about Ukelele, when my boyfriend decided to surprise me with a reservation that read “I passed there in front, I liked it and I pop in for reserving”. I could not say no: first of all, because generally speaking I am the one in charge of restaurant reservation in our family and therefore it came pretty much as a shock (no offense intended, just the fair truth 🙂 ). Second, because normally M. is very picky concerning food – and as much as he can eat his Delirio Culinario pizza with gorgonzola and salami at least three times per week, he is totally unmotivated regarding exotic cuisine. So – I told myself, why not.

I got to Ukelele a bit earlier than him and the place was half-busy. I gave my name at the counter and I was indicated two tables on the main street side. There were actually three tables available in total – one in the corner with two chairs and two on a bench. I wanted to be on a chair but I was told to choose between the other two.

I ordered a Thai Tonic while I waited for M. to arrive and I was given the menu. He got there from work with his usual delay and, little by little, the restaurant got really packed.

He also had a Gin to start with and we ordered. We went for a mixed starter to share, I follow with a basil beef, while he had red curry chicken. We concluded with espresso and cognac.

After the pictures of our dinner, you will find my thoughts about Ukelele – and yes, I know lots have been written already, so these are just my two cents.

What I liked about Ukelele:

  • The place is very nice and I loved the decorations – specifically the reversed umbrellas on the ceiling. The atmosphere is warm, welcoming and casual, as well as the service. If you are not familiar with Thai cuisine, the staff is very glad to help you doing an informed choice, advising on hotness level, sauces and so on.
  • I liked the food: the basil beef was definitely MY dish and would order it again straight away. Perfect level of hotness and delicious, authentic flavors. The starter platters was as well tasty. The spring rolls were so good I wanted to have other ten probably, while I liked the fish cake a bit less, but it was a kind of starter I would have not ordered in a single portion. Go for the rolls, definitely 🙂
  • While you could not expect to pay the same price you would in Thailand – in Bangkok, I probably had the same dinner for the equivalent of 17 euros and my Thai colleagues were complaining about the fact it was a rather expensive place – Ukelele is fairly priced, with main around 15 euros. We had basically everything (Gin Tonic to start, a shared platter of starters, two main, a good bottle of wine, coffee and cognac) and we spent a bit more than 100 Eur.

What I liked a bit less about Ukelele:

  • We had a lovely dinner and I would definitely consider to visit the restaurant again – even if over week-end it is often fully booked, so having to reserve well in advance might be, for me, a restrain factor. There are just few points I would note, as you know I am picky: the place is small and very cozy as said, but if you end up in a night where the are big groups, like the night we visited, it becomes a bit noisy. Second, on the same side, you are basically dining with the table next to you. That might be positive if you are in the mood for talking, not really if you want to have a reserved conversation and the table next to you speak your same language. Lastly, the bench where I was seated was very uncomfortable as it is at a different level to the table compared to chairs, at least if you are tallish like I am. Ask for a table with chairs 🙂 Silly points, as usual, indeed, and nothing that would stop me to consider it as my first choice for Thai dining in.

 

To sum up: Ukelele is a lovely Thai restaurant in Clausen. The location is very unique and warm and the atmosphere is casual, with a friendly service. Food is on point and prices are fair. My recommended dish would definitely be the basil beef, if you like spicy food. Perfect for a night out with friends. Reservation needed – in advance for the week-end.

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Alterego Restaurant, Luxembourg City

Can creative cuisine be as well affordable? I had the truly impression recently that the most sophisticated one restaurant gets, the more expensive the final bill is going to be. Sometimes it is perfectly justifiable as well as appreciated. I tend to save at least couple of dinners per year for outstanding places – mostly Michelin stars – and even if when the check is close to the 4 digits, I have never had real regrets, as they definitely deserved. But, from my experience, there are more and more restaurants which tends to offer a slightly gastronomic proposal and to have Michelin-starred prices – I can definitely find couple of examples in Luxembourg. I am not perfectly comfortable with this market approach and I am recently looking forward as well to find some good food at fair prices – who is not?

So couple of weeks ago, I was pretty keen to try a new Italian restaurant that opens its door less than one month before. The place is called Alterego and it is located in route d’Esch, next to the BIL headquarter.

If you are about to close this review before going ahead as you are fed up of “Italian places” in Luxembourg, I would suggest you not too, as this is definitely a different one!

So, I spontaneously met with Jenni at our own headquarter (aka Paname) and we decided to try something new, at least for eating. We called Alterego to reserve and arrived there around 8ish on a Thursday night.

The restaurant is very cozy – tiny, but lovely arranged in a way not to make you feel suffocated. Thing I like is that while from outside the place is quite anonymous – looks like a neighborhood brasserie – inside you have a warm and welcoming unique feeling.

We started with an aperitif – a great Negroni – and we then ordered a selection of starters to taste, one primi piatti to share (black tagliatelle with cuttlefish) and one main to share (crispy codfish), followed by a homemade tiramisu and its relevant cocktail.

Find the pictures of our dinner followed by my comments.


What I liked about Alterego:

  • The food was OMG: when I decided to try this restaurant, I had good expectations about a fair, well executed traditional Italian cuisine. Gosh, I was wrong! Dishes are sophisticated, exceptionally presented, food combinations unusual and traditional plats revisited. Among the starters, my favorite one was definitely the “Knodel”, these sausage and potatoes balls in a light broth with smoked ricotta. The best dishes of the night, to me, the black tagliatelle – a perfect combination between the imperfections of homemade pasta and the rounded, deep taste of the ingredients. Finally, the dessert: I don’t have sweet tooth, you know, but this deconstructed tiramisu, accompanied by a tiramigiu cocktail, enchanted me. It was too good looking to eat and too tasty to finish the meal without. As the menu is changing every month and it is based on a regional cuisine – this month it was Friuli Venezia Giulia, from February 19th another (surprise!) region – I really look forward to come back again and try new proposals from the house.
  • The service was great: we were a bit bitchy, honestly, but they maintained their aplomb. In particular, after we ordered the selection of starters, we realized that Jenni does not eat meat and we asked to not have meat dishes. Only the first couple of appetizers came with meat and after that the order was adjusted, even in progress. Then, for the following two dishes, we requested to have them to share and instead of bringing a portion in the middle, they already split the dish in two, both for the primi piatti and for the main course. Smile, great attitude and explanations as well as in English made the rest.
  • The bill came out incredible fair: we had a huge dinner (several starters to share, two main to share, dessert, a bottle of wine, coffee) and the final check read 104 Eur in total. We had aperitif and digestif offered by the house.

What I liked a bit less about Alterego:

  • Our dinner was great and I would honestly strongly recommend the place with no exceptions. The night we have been there was really quiet, but honestly I don’t mind being in a calm place once in a while!

In conclusion: We loved Alterego. It is a very special Italian restaurant, definitely different from those you might have tried so far. The cuisine is regional based and the menu changes frequently. Dishes are sophisticated and well presented. The restaurant is perfect for a romantic date, a rendez-vous with friends or a night “you just don’t want to cook”. Above all, prices are extremely fair. Recommended!

Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People: Cecilie

A new week starts with a new interview for our Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People column. Today Jenni is introducing us Cecilie, a dynamic, smiling lady who is reminding us, among all, how important is to believe in your dreams.

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Good Morning and Welcome Cecilie! Can you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about who are you and what are you doing here?

Sure! My name is Cecilie Rigneus, I am originally from Norway, and I’m a nurse (former one!), a mom and a personal trainer. I arrived in Luxembourg 17 years ago with my husband, basically because of his job. At that time, my children were very small and the prospect of working was stressful balancing child care and long working hours. So I decided I was going to look another way and began to look at options of starting my own business. This would then give me a more flexible working schedule and allow me to work from anywhere at any time and around my family. Being able to share my business opportunity with people is something I am truly passionate about as I am able to change their lifestyle with reduced stress and added freedom. I also wanted to inspire people to pursue a healthier lifestyle in the long run.

My friends and family would describe me as a happy, positive and including person who love living life to the fully.

Can you tell Barefoot in Luxembourg readers a bit more about your business?

It was 8 years ago, whilst I was looking for a flexible business that I was introduced to this opportunity and I just knew it was for me. I call myself a “Lifestyle Optimizer”. My business is divided into two categories: clients and partners. With regards to my clients, I aim to inspire them to look and feel younger in the long term by encouraging them to make the best choices with health, fitness and wellbeing. Partners are typically people who want to get away from regular office jobs, want more flexibility in their working hours or have moved here and have a hard time finding a permanent job due to the language barriers, education or skills.

My motivation of helping people is to offer them a possibility to earn money with the option of working from any location and country with totally flexible working hours.

Why should people in Luxembourg be attracted to your business?

It’s a great way to make money on your own terms. As a business owner you set your own goals and get the necessary coaching and support to help make it happen. There are also no special requirements for success, just the right attitude! To get a better idea how to be more involved is to come to our next event, which is on Saturday the 3rd February at 11.00. To receive more information people can send an email to info@lifestyleoptimiser.com.

What are your future plans?

To continue living life the way I do! My business allows me to travel and to meet so many inspiring and interesting people.

My motto is that I don’t live to work but work to live.

Coming back to your Luxembourg background, you told us you have been living here for 17 years.

Yes, and in this 17 years I have seen a lot of change in Luxembourg and I love to be a part of that change. Luxembourg is such a diverse community with so many nationalities and cultures.

What is your favorite place in the city?

I like Come a la Maison because of its unique concept. It’s truly a lifestyle kind of place with stylish decoration, healthy choices, food and the best coffee.

What is your preferred night-life spot in Luxembourg?

I don’t have the same desire to hit the nightlife anymore. I tend to go out for drinks with friends and if I have to choose some places then I’d say Boos Café in Bridel or Mansfeld in Clausen.

What do you like about Luxembourg life?

I love the diversity. You can just be yourself and people will accept you for who you are. Luxembourg is also very family friendly and I’m happy to have my children growing up here. It is also very green and the healthcare system is excellent.

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

I would love to see more of the cheaper health stores. I have to say I have seen a big change when it comes to people getting more health conscious and availability in healthy options. There is definitely room for more. I love both fashion and home deco, but have to admit I don’t find much of my Scandinavian style here.

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

Champagne region is my personal recommendation. I love the rustique French countryside, I love bubbles so I can’t really ask for more.

How would you describe Luxembourg with three adjectives?

Safe, international and open minded.

Thank you for being with us today Cecilie.

To discover more about Cecilie you can follow her Facebook page here.

 

Barefoot in Luxembourg meets people: Andrea

2018 is starting with a new chapter of the Barefoot in Luxembourg meets people column. If you follow my IG stories, you have already realized probably that one of my favourite place during winter has been La Briscola, this cozy Italian wine bar and restaurant off the station where I can relax after some very long days at work, in front of a lovely glass of Italian red wine. As it helped me so much taking the stress away in these last weeks that have been, for a reason or another, so tough, I decided starting the 2018 of our series from here, having a chat with the guys behind this concept.

I met Andrea, one of the owners, at my usual table, in front, ca va sans dire, of a glass of red wine.

foto per articolo

Good evening Andrea and welcome to Barefoot in Luxembourg. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about how you and your partners met?

Good evening! As you already unveiled, we are four Italian guys who met through a common passion, the one for wine and Italian authentic food. We come from different experiences – three of us are working in a bank, while I am the manager of the restaurant and I have a hospitality background – and come from different places – two of us are from Lombardia, while the other two are from Friuli region. We had all since long time this dream about opening an Italian restaurant, while enjoying it, and with “La Briscola” we finally managed to do it and we are very excited to celebrate our first year of activity this Saturday (ED: more information here).

What are you enjoying about La Briscola and why people should come here?

“Briscola”, in Italy, is a famous card game. The name indeed is not random: we wanted to have a place where to enjoy ourselves, like during a card game, and to put ourselves in action, not just as owners or managers, but as active players. Our La Briscola is not only a restaurant, the place where you eat and leave, but, also and above all, a place where you feel home, that welcomes you when you have an argument with your partner and needs a glass of wine, when you want to relax with your friends or celebrate a great day at work, when you want to discover more about wines and take a bottle home for your sweet half or your parents.

Why La Briscola should be different from tons of Italian restaurant we have already in town?

La Briscola is different, firstly, because it is not only a restaurant, it is a place to meet. That means that our customers are welcome for lunch or dinner, but as well for after-work, a night-cap drink, to discuss about wines and to discover our products.

Under the pure “food” point of view, then, we are proud to say that we have an offer that is completely different from the other Italian restaurants in Luxembourg: we have a seasonal, very short menu that changes every two months, including some forte that you can always find – for example: tartares. We do not propose the usual classic you might find elsewhere – the infamous carbonara or similar,  – but unique, designed dishes, with a strong regional orientation. In particular, while we try to cover the cuisine from North to South of Italy, we are very keen of being almost the first in Luxembourg to present as well several dishes from Northern Italy – while the major part of our “competitors” have speciality from Apulia or Sicily. We are glad to say that probabily 90% of the products and wines you are having at La Briscola cannot be found elsewhere in Luxembourg as well as offering them at very fair prices.

So La Briscola is organizing also getting together. What are the upcoming events of La Briscola?

As said in the beginning, this Saturday La Briscola will celebrate its first birthday. An occasion for us to thank our customers. We are having a special dinner menu and an all-night-long after-party with DJ set.

Moreover, we started already from some time the concept of Briscolino, an after-work evening once per month where our clients enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine, taste for free our dishes at the appetizers buffet and dance with a DJ – set. Briscolino is different from the other after-works in town because we are not changing our style for the event, but we are proud to present our same, usual products we import from Italy, from Gorgonzola on the spoon to Breasola to home-made pasta dishes. Briscolino is not an evento to fill up the restaurant for one night, but for having more people trying our cuisine and come back as regular clients.

Another great event we repeat on a regular basis are the Wine Talks: again, it is not just an occasion to taste and learn more about some great Italian wines, from a professional perspective, but above all an occasion to meet other wine lovers and discuss also with them about wine – a monthly “wine club”, if we want to define it so, that make clearer our idea about being not only a restaurant, but as well a reference for people passionate about wines. In fact, for example, during our Wine Talks, you have a chance to buy our wines – that are on sale normally at the restaurant anyway – for a discounted price.

So one year passed already, where do you see La Briscola in 1 year?

Our first year was basically to get known, that might not be easy considering that we are not in a fashionable area of the city. We want to continue to propose our Briscolino and Wine Talks and we have great surprises coming – for example the Italian Sunday Brunch and the kitchen open all Sunday afternoon for Italian football matches – or, if you don’t like football, just if you are too lazy to wake up on time for the brunch on Sundays.

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

I came to Luxembourg one year and a half ago for opening La Briscola. I was convinced by my other three partners in crime, who have been here for more than three years and know I was getting myself into real trouble moving here (laughing).

What is the place that has the most special memory in the city for you?

The bridge on the Alzette in Grund…one of the first places I saw in Luxembourg and still my favourite one.

Out of interest, and taken La Briscola out of the candidates :), what is your favorite restaurant in town?

I recently went to Tomo, a sushi place in Merl and tried their special menu with marinated sushi at the bar in front of the chef. In my opinion the best sushi in town!

What about your favourite night-life spot?

Being a pub-lover, Steiler is definitely the place I go on the weekends to enjoy a good atmosphere and good music.

What do you like about living in Luxembourg?

What I enjoy the most about Luxembourg is its international environment, which is something you can experience in very few cities in Europe. Lots of people are moving here from all over the world and are very open to make friendship. Going from bar to bar at night, you can easily spend the entire time with people you met on the spot, which is something that rarely happened to me in other cities I lived in before.

What do you miss most about living in Luxembourg and would change about the life in Luxembourg?

As Italian, the only thing I really miss is a better, sunny weather! Seriously, I hope the city will continue to grow and to increase the offer for entertainment, which is definitely needed, considering the relatively young age in average of people that have been moving to the city in the last years.

And finally, to conclude, what are the best three adjectives that describe better Luxembourg for you

International, cosy and forward looking!

Thank you very much Andrea and See you at La Briscola!

 

TramCrawl: we have been to the 1st Edition!

Pub Crawl Luxembourg started its first event in November little over a year ago with the idea of bringing party people together every month. Due to its great success and the need of constant improvement – indeed, in Luxembourg it gets easily repetitive to browse around same bars -, the concept changed recently and was transformed in the very first Tram Crawl, which took a place for the first time just after the Christmas holidays. I was very curious to see how this event looks like and be among the first people to witness this craziness. Also it was the first time for this kind of events to cross the border of the very city center.

As opposite to previous Pub Crawl events, the Tram Crawl was organized in cooperation with Manso group and had an entrance fee between 27 and 37 EUR, depending on how fast you were to get the early bird ticket or if you got yours just last-minute at the door. To be honest, I was quite surprised to see how quickly the event got sold out and saw a lot of people looking for last minute tickets on different Facebook groups – I admit I was also one of them but was lucky enough to also find a ticket on the “black market”!. The ticket price included drink tokens, free finger food at every bar and free entrance to Limbo, which I found a rather good deal.

The idea of Tram Crawl was to discover 5 different bars around Kirchberg ending at Limbo. I arrived 18.30 at Chimi Churri to meet up with my friends.
Upon arrival, we were given bracelets and divided up into different groups. The restaurant got quickly very packed and I went to order my glass of wine. On the event description, it said gathering time at the first place was until 19.45 but soon enough there were guys with the loud speakers ordering the first groups to leave already for next stop. I then rushed to ask what was going on and was told that different groups would visit all different locations at different times due to capacity constraints. This totally made sense but I wished this had been more clearly informed to avoid all the hassle at ChimiChurri.

The second place was The Game, where we received some fried finger food: mozzarella, calamari and onion rings. I again felt that we were rushed out to the next place way too soon (not sure if this was a fact or just my own impression as I didn’t keep track of the time).

This time we actually took the tram to the JFK restaurant where they had an indoor terrace set up for us. I remember it was super cold and the wind was blowing very heavily. To compensate this misery, we were offered free Jäger shots together with mini-burgers and fries.

Before leaving Kirchberg we visited next door, the Manso restaurant where it felt amazing to be inside. There we were offered mozzarella and tomato sticks and some other small tapas. I bumped into a lot of friends from the previous group who just had stayed to ”hung out” a bit more before moving to the next place. I guess it wasn’t a very big sin if you didnt follow your initial group all the way through 🙂

On the way from Kirchberg to the city center it was only like 21.00ish but we had already enough alcohol in our blood to sing Barbie Girl and make every other tram passenger to stare at us. Most of them probably found us just funny…right?

Limbo was practically empty when we arrived there as normal as I consider it as a place to go after everything else is about to close. Some brownies and a chocolate fountain with fruit sticks were waiting for us at the entrance. Despite the club being empty (ish) at arrival, it quickly got full when the rest of the groups reached us.

Over all, I had a lot of fun. I went there with a group of friends but also made some new acquintances (I noticed new messages from people whose numbers I hadn’t even saved the day after LOL). It was a very casual though a lot of people had made an effort to dress up since the majority of the bars were anyway a bit nicer. Most people were around 30ish but it was the first time I saw also some older people attend.

Personally I think the deal with food and drinks were great especially since you could have a lot of shots as well (if you want to, but who doesn’t?!). The only thing I liked a bit less was the beginning, when it wasn’t clear that the departure time to the next place was much earlier than 19.45 and caused some confusion. I also found the time spent in each bar a bit short and I think we could have stayed there just a bit longer especially as we arrived to a night club then very early. But for being the first time it was normal to have some small areas to improve!

I loved the Tram Crawl and I’d recommend the event for anyone who likes to party and wants to try something out of the ordinary!

Next Tram Crawl will take place on January 27th: check here.

Maison Steffen: where good food matters

Established in 1989 in Steinfort, Luxembourg, Maison Steffen is, without a doubt, one of the trendiest places to go grocery shopping when you are looking for a boucherie, a shop to get some good quality meat and cold cuts. Barefoot in Luxembourg was invited to the re-opening of Maison Steffen’s oldest boutique in Steinfort and it was a great occasion to discover more about this brand!

The boucherie itself was recently renovated and has now a completely different look. In my opinion, it’s very inviting as one of its walls facing the street is made entirely out of glass and lets a lot of light in. The interior of the butchery, is however, kept rustic, simple and harmonic; there are some sausages and cold cuts hanging and old butchery equipment is also present. When it comes to the selection of their products, you can choose from raw meats to ready to make meals and even catering options.

After visiting the shop, the night continued at another venue where we were taken by a shuttle bus. At this event hall, we were offered drinks followed by a short promo movie explaining the history and the current status of the shop. When the clip was finished, the food buffet was opened and we had a chance to sample many different dishes, that were made by using products available for purchase at the stores. Most of the dishes were very typical Luxembourgish dishes and small enough so I could try several of them – all delicious!


Overall, my experience at Maison Steffen was great and I was left with a very positive feeling about the shop; it is definitely worth visiting if you happen to find yourself in Steinfort. For those who live in Luxembourg city or other parts of this massive country, you have an option to check their other shops in Cents, Petange, Esch-sur-Alzette or Dudelange. Exact addresses and opening hours can be found on their website. Maison Steffen also owns a restaurant La Table de Frank, located in Steinfort.

Naturalia – A new Organic Grocery Store

For a long time, Luxembourg Gare area has been a very shady one but recently there have been a lot of improvements and new businesses have opened up. In the end of September, I attended at the opening of Naturalia at Luxembourg Gare. Originally from France, Naturalia is a  specialized in selling organic food items  such as vegetables and fruits but also cheese, wine, bread, rice and pasta. They also have a big selection of hygienic products, vitamins and food supplements.

Their new store is quite small but very bright and attractive. Presentation of fresh veggies and fruits at the entrance is lovely and the store even makes fresh “smoothies to go” in the morning. At the event, I had a possibility to try some of the different combinations they make and also some vegan raw cakes and other appetizers. I also liked the idea of them selling seeds, nuts and cereals from plastic containers from which you could choose the amount of each item you want to have  without additional waste or packaging.


The proximity to the train station certainly attracts many clients, especially because there are no other organic stores with a similar concept nearby and they have long opening hours. Even on Sundays. As ecological lifestyle is starting to be a growing trend in Luxembourg, I’m sure that once the possibilities for buying organic gets easier, people will also be more interested in green eating.

Naturalia Luxembourg
Address:
12-18 rue Joseph Junck

Opening Hours:
Monday-Thursday: 8.00-20.00
Friday: 8.00-21.00
Saturday: 8.00-19.00
Sunday: 9.00-19.00