White Dinner 2017 is approaching…

As each and every year, the White Dinner is one of the event I am waiting most during summer in Luxembourg. I think it has a special allure and the fact that every person is basically responsible for the success of his/her table makes it for me even more interesting.

In order to get ready for this year edition, we propose an article we published already some year ago – slightly revisited.


Did you ever heard about the White Dinner?

This is a truly amazing event organized in several European cities during summer (check some pictures of the one in Paris here).

The rules are more or less always the same: the dinner is taking place in a public place that is kept secret till the very last, everybody should be dressed in total white and you must provide for everything for your group (table, chairs, food, etc.).

It is actually less complicated than it looks and having been to six White Dinners in Luxembourg already, I can ensure it is definitely worth the effort – and each and every year you want to improve!

It is just important you try to plan a bit in advance the event and to share the tasks with your group of friends.

Keep the group limited, above all if you are inexperienced. A table of 4 or 6 is easier to manage and you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Previous White Dinners in Luxembourg took place among all at the Roses Garden in front of Arcelor Mittal building, in Rue Philippe II, on the Corniche, at the Lycee des Garcon.

Some suggestions on my side, based on what my personal experience at White Dinners has been:

– Normally you receive indications regarding the “meeting point” on the morning of the event. The “meeting point” is at a walking distance from the place where the White Dinner will be actually taking place. Therefore, start to wonder where the dinner could be and above all try to find the closest parking place/bus stop. You can share the easy things to transport with your friends (have backpacks, boxes and cooler bags ready and filled). Have just one friend with the car that could move heavy stuff and tables when the X location is announced. Use foldable tables and chairs for garden that are lighter and easy to clean.

– If you are afraid of taking china with you, check at shop like Hema or Ava, in Luxembourg city. They have wonderful catering items at small price and some nice decoration solutions. We did not take china with us until the very two last editions and honestly don’t regret it.

Coordinate the food and the drinks, to avoid ending up with ten red wines bottles and nothing else. Take in consideration that, from the announcement of the “place”, it takes some time to arrange the tables and collect people, so be ready with an icy cold champagne bottle or a nice aperitif for your friends, while you are setting your table. We like to already mix our aperitif in nice plastic bottles at home, filled as well with flowers and fruits.

Go cold (pasta salad, raw fish, cheese and charcuterie) and simple (what about a bento box for your friends?). If you are afraid is going to be too complicated, you might consider to take something take away (Sushi shop box, for example).

Don’t forget ashtray if you have smoking friends, big bin bags to clean everything at the end and eventually some rags/cleaning paper as disaster recovery option (open Aperol bottle overturned on the table anyone?)

– If it is your first year, don’t bother too much about the appearance. Try to be clean,  have a nice organized table and above all to enjoy. You might see crazy stuff that night, like people having their own butler carrying them stuff around, but White Dinner is not about the best table. It is about having a different special night, about a secret place, about being thrilled of organizing something with your friends and enjoy this special and lovely moment.

Have fun!

Some pictures of my previous editions are following:

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PS As the event is secret we cannot disclose more than what we have already done, but should you be interested, send a private message to Barefoot in Luxembourg on FB and we will try to help you out..

 

A luxurious evolution: Le Chatelet, Luxembourg City

As you might have noticed if you follow the blog, we tend not to review a place more than once in a couple of years – even if, when the feedback is good, I visit it again.
We recently did an exception for Le Chatelet, the refined restaurant located in Boulevard de La Petrusse, that welcome us last time when was still part of a famous Luxembourg brand.

The restaurant has been acquired by Jean-Baptiste and Aleksandra, this refreshing couple who decided to leave their previous professional life behind and jump in a new adventure. They gave their chef “carte blanche” with the idea of moving the restaurant concept from a steak-house (remember, also Barefoot in Luxembourg was there for meat) to an innovative bistronomic brasserie.

The step to get to this level was achieved as well with some noticeable improvements to the appearance of the venue: the tables on the main road have been removed, there have been some major reviews in the internal settings and at the wine bar, but it is on the terrace that the main changes have been operated. The cheap coverage has been removed in favor of a more open and green terrace, a Parisian corner in the heart of the station area.

In regards to the cuisine, forget about bouche a la reine and toast au champignon, the card is surprisingly creative and have limited choices, but for all the tastes – it must be said that the evening menu changes every two weeks and some seasonal suggestions are proposed on spot. The a la carte menu change with seasons as well.

We had ourselves a tasting menu with wine paring.

The amuse-bouche was the prelude of an exceptional dinner: an exquisite tartare of carabineros prawns accompanied by tomato and mozzarella foam. A symphony of taste in only couple of spoons, the freshness, almost kinky taste of the prawns dancing with the comforting, bold intermezzo of the mozzarella and closed by the acid notes of the tomato.

We were already gobsmashed.

The first starter was an unpredictable combination with old-fashion reminiscences  and exotic notes: risotto with celery, lobster in two consistencies, homardine sauce and coconut milk. The intriguing part of the dish was indeed the mixture between classic tastes (lobster) with creative elements (the celery risotto was unexpectedly to die for, the coconut milk was taking you to a Bangkok food stall and back).

Then it came the foie gras ice cream, a dish that would have definitely not disfigured on a Michelin starred restaurant table. Tasty but not sickly sweet, accompanied by a crumble of hazelnuts and spices, it managed to wrap the palate without tiring it.

As main course, we had ray with semi-salted butter, young carrots with kaffir lime, emulsion of shellfish and fried capers. Again, a mishmash of a classic dish with brush strokes of originality. To me, this was as well the best combination between a dish and its wine, as the salty note of the sauce and the capers perfectly mingled with the sweet delicacy of a local Riesling.

Finally, the meat dish: lamb rumsteak with ratatouille cake, tapenade and potatoes. An astonishing presentation for a pretty vintage closure of the meal with a delicious drive.

Together with the coffee, we got our dessert, last dish of the menu: apricots, cacao crumble, coconut and vanilla ice cream, apparently a simple blending, indeed a very elaborate twist of consistencies, tastes and aromas.

Pictures of our dinner with the relevant wine pairing, followed, as usual, by my overall impression on the restaurant.

What I loved about Le Chatelet:

  • As general consideration, I have to say I was positively surprised by the new restaurant imprint, innovative but not in an aggressive or exaggerate way – as well at pricing level. Our tasting menu was fantastic, but the “a la carte” choices include some very impressive numbers as well – the fried creamy egg in the starters for example or the Carnaroli risotto with truffle and pata negra.
  • The wine selection is amazing – not in the sense of general commercial wines or just big names, but of a very attentive selection and experience. For example, with the lamb we had a Spanish red wine. We were skeptic, but it was a great wine, intense and powerful.
  • The timing of the dinner was perfect: generally with the tasting menu you often risk to have dishes coming in too quickly and to fill up immediately. Or – vice versa – to wait too much between courses and get bored. In this case, nothing could have been done better.
  • The service was great: spontaneous and attentive. A special mention to the lady who was introducing the wine, she was really showing a great passion and explaining the pairings in a detailed way, but easy to understand.

What I liked a bit less about Le Chatelet:

  • We had fabulous time and our dinner could have not been better. If I want to be picky and find one item to change, it would be the combination between the lobster dish and its wine, a Chardonnay with significant citrus notes. The dish to me was on a sweet side, as well was the wine. While my partner in crime observed a drier wine would have been better, on my side I would have kept the wine and added a bit of chili or cayenne pepper to the dish. De gustibus.

In conclusion: The visit to the new Le Chatelet overcame our expectations. We found a renewed brasserie with a strong gastronimique accents. Perfect if you are bored of the “usual” standards and expect something “more” from your dinner, without ending up in the pretentious. Strongly recommended for a date, a dinner with friends or a business meeting.

And if you wish to enjoy the sun informally, a tapas menu is also available.

Moroccan lunch at Le Gourmet Oriental, Luxembourg City

Couple of weeks ago, Sunny and I have been invited to try a corner of Morocco in Luxembourg, this exotic restaurant called “Le Gourment Oriental“.

The place is located on the busy connection between Avenue de La Gare, Place de Paris and Avenue de la Liberte’. The area is flourishing of new venues recently and started to be positively animated even during the evening. Indeed, Le Gourmet Oriental has been opened for more than two years, but it changed the original concept on the way.
At opening, in fact, the restaurant was active only as lunch eatery for the nearby offices: dishes could be ordered at the counter, were warmed up quickly and taken directly by the client at the table.

Now the restaurant has a more sophisticated appearance, even if still pretty much informal: there is though a corner for take-away and delivery, but it is also and mainly possible to seat directly at the tables and be served – at lunch there are a lunch formula and a la carte menu. From Wednesday to Saturday, Le Gourmet Oriental is also opened during the evenings, with a bigger menu – and the formula “Take your own wine“, that personally I adore, as allow you to save a substantial part of the bill and to bring a good bottle in restaurants that normally would have had a very basic wine list. Even if you pass by randomly and decide to stop, Monoprix is just in front and you can buy your bottle at the same time. Alert: No cork fees are charged on the bottles!

The location itself is very cozy – furniture are oriental style but without the “too much” cheesy effect. The service is smiling and refreshing.

I ordered Harrira Soup as starter while Sunny had Aubergine Caviar. To continue, I had Tajine with green olives and chicken while Sunny had Cous Cous with Kefta – all meat is Halal at Le Gourmet Oriental.

We concluded with a delicious Moroccan tea, very digestive.

Find the pictures of our lunch – shot by Sunny – and my usual impressions to follow:

What I loved about Le Gourmet Oriental:

  • We had a delicious lunch in a very authentic ambience: our dishes tasted lovely, different from all the exotic plats I had so far and the combination of spicy is fair  but powerful – and should you wish to elevate your experience they bring you homemade harissa at the table. The owner and all the kitchen team are from Morocco, so this is definitely ensuring an high level of credibility in the proposal.
  • The menu is various and could satisfy different palates, from meat eaters to vegetarians. There is also a great choice of various lighter wraps and of tasty-looking Moroccan patisserie. Not to mention, prices are very fair for Luxembourg standards.
  • The service is super nice: if you have any doubt, dishes and formulas are explained in details and with a smile and the owners are stopping at the tables to check if you are enjoying the lunch.

What I liked a bit less about Le Gourmet Oriental:

  • We had a very pleasant lunch and I look forward to come back to visit the restaurant as well in the evening. The only thing I might say, with reference to our lunch, is that portions are quite big, so the combination starter plus main at noon for a girl is a bit too much – if you cannot take a nap afterwards. Still definitely suggested for big appetites 🙂

In conclusion: Le Gourmet Oriental was a very pleasant discover. The venue is simple and informal, but dishes are colorful, authentic and very tasty. I enjoy the service and was surprised by the night formula where you can take your own wine without additional fees. I would definitely recommend it for an after-work dinner with colleagues or a girls night out!

If you want to see more picture of Sunny, check her blog here.

After-Work at L’Avenue, Kirchberg

Couple of weeks ago, on a Wednesday night, we had a business meeting to plan and as we were already around Kirchberg area we decided to try for the first time L’Avenue, the modern new bar – restaurant in Arendt building, near Auchan.

The design of the venue is stunning: modern, clean, bright, slightly posh but exceptionally client-friendly. Entering, you have in front a luminous and striking bar counter – reminding me of some “Made in Chelsea” favorite drinking places -. On the left, the bar area, on the right the restaurant tables.

When we arrived, the bar area was already totally packed – we requested to the waiter a table for three people, but he was unable to find one, so we moved to the terrace. Indeed the terrace is one of the bonus point of the location but unfortunately on that specific night the weather was not compatible with a long stay. Our waiter was really nice: we started ordering two glasses of red wine – a nice Italian Primitivo – while waiting for our guest  and when our waiter saw I was actually shivering, he called us inside after having found a table.

Even if the bar area was packed, the tables allocation inside is really comfortable: you don’t get the impression to be suffocated by other people standing, like it happens in similar places and still have a good view – isn’t people watching one of the favorite hobbies in Luxembourg?

With the second round of drinks, we ordered as well some tapas: the kitchen was about to close, but we were still able to have some vegetable tempura with their dip. The presentation was very accurate, the portion quite fair for the price and the taste surprisingly good.

Some pictures of our evening followed by my general impressions – and for more pictures of the venue just check out L’Avenue FB page.


What I liked about L’Avenue:

  • The design of the location is “wow”. I really love the place and I cannot wait to be on the terrace during the warm season. It is the kind of place you might like to go straight from the office or after a business meeting like we did.
  • The service is extremely friendly: even if the place was packed and the waiter serving the bar area only one, we never felt we were forgotten and we got everything we needed on time and with a smile. Well done!
  • The drinks list is wide, including appealing cocktails and great gin selection. Tapas are served after-work and have several choices – including veggie – at a small price. Perfect if you are having dinner afterwards – and cannot wait to try the dining area in the next future.

What I liked a bit less about L’Avenue:

  • We had a super pleasant night so nothing to complain about, definitely. Maybe it would have been nice, even if you don’t order tapas, to have some chips or peanuts to snack while having your drink, but as usual this is one of the silly points of mine – I have an addictions for chips, I admit.
  • Not a real downside, indeed, but only a suggestion if you plan to visit the bar. Even if prices are very fair, it is a classy place, you cannot deny it, and being in the financial district, the customer base is mainly composed by lawyers and bankers. If you have gym-wear and sneakers on after having shopped at Auchan, it might not be the place for you. Come with high heels ladies 🙂

In conclusion: L’Avenue bar is the perfect for a fashionable drink in Kirchberg, with friends, colleagues or business partners. The lovely terrace and the stunning interior design, together with the attentive service, are making this place one of our favorite for after-working in town. 

An easy night out: Brooklyn Bar, Luxembourg City

Last week we had finally the opportunity to visit Brooklyn Bar, a cozy new American bar that opened last year in avenue de La Gare. The occasion was a live show of my friends’ duo, On Two Feet, who were playing there on a Friday night.
Together with F. we decided then to book for dinner ahead the event: the restaurant has a very simple system of reservation online, valid as well for the same day, and we got a very quick confirmation via email.

We got to Brooklyn around 8 pm – watch out, the parking situation is quite tragic at the moment in the area and you might want to get there via public transportation – bus n.3 stops just on the corner.

The atmosphere were very warm and friendly: we were reserved a nice table on the windows, and started our evening with soft drinks and beers. We ordered a starter to share (“Partners in crime”), composed by chicken wings, nachos, mozzarella stick and much more. The dish was pretty big and even if some products were clearly frozen, the quality was good. We continued with two burgers, prepared with ciabatta bun and with gorgonzola cheese and Parma ham topping. We concluded with coffee and moved then to drinks while listening to the music show and being joined by other friends.

Pictures of our dinners and couple of the live show – from Brooklyn fan page on FB – followed by my impressions.

What I liked about Brooklyn bar:

  • I loved the easy going atmosphere and the variegate client targets. This is definitely the place you come straight from work in your suit or when you don’t want to dress up with trainers and t-shirt.
  • There is a very good selections of drinks – if you come in just for a drink – and the food menu is also interesting – starters, burgers, meat and veggie dishes, anything sophisticated but the care about the food was impressive and my burger was OMG!
  • The bill comes very fair compared to other lookalike places in the city – being there from 8 pm to closing at 1 am, had friend joining for drinks and spent around 100 euro for all the table (food for 2 and drinks for 4).

What I liked a bit less about Brooklyn bar:

  • As said, the mood of the place is really cool but accessible hence the service is pretty much relaxed. Might not be the right place if you are in a hurry.

 

In conclusion: Brooklyn bar is the perfect place for an easy night with friends – they have live music shows, great drinks selection and their burgers are definitely worth a try. Highly recommended and will come back soon!

Iron Bartender Competition

Two weeks ago, Barefoot in Luxembourg has been invited to a new event concept that took part among five bars in the city center of Luxembourg (The Tube, Bellamy, Go Ten, Octans, Konrad). The idea is based on the cult Japanese TV show Iron Chef.

Each month a “mystery ingredient” will be chosen which the bars have to use to develop a special cocktail. That ingredient could be a special spirit, or fruit, or juice etc. Each bars cocktail is then judged by an independent panel and a trophy awarded to the winning bar to display until the next month.

Barefoot in Luxembourg was part of the jury of the first edition and the selected mysterious ingredient for that time has been Diplomatico Reserve Exclusive Rum from Venezuela.

We started our night as jury at The Tube bar, where we were proposed a very refreshing cocktail called About Figgin’ Thymes – the name has been based on the words assonance with “freaking times” and thyme, one of the main ingredient of the cocktail.
The drink was pleasantly sour and complex, you could not feel much the alcohol and was enjoyable to drink – perfect for a summer after-work. Personally, I found it a bit too much “ladylike”, but I would not mind ordering it again to start a night out.

 

We moved then to Bellamy where we were offered their Capitaliko cocktail – prepared with Rhum Diplomatico, Amaretto, chocolate and orange. The preparation was impressive but in this case the taste, while very good even for me that I am not an Amaretto fan, resulted quite strong. On the other side, we were offered some great food to share prepared by the Bellamy kitchen. I did not know that at Bellamy you could have as well some food – tapas style – and I have to say it was delicious. I would definitely come back to try some more in the next weeks!

 

Third stop was at Go Ten bar: their special cocktail – Diplomatico Choice – was a kind of Mojito prepared with coconut milk and chili. The cocktail presentation was the best one to me: the drink was served in a metallic glass covered on ice and accompanied by some exotic bites with beef and pineapple. The taste of the cocktail was as well for me the best one of the night: definitely a drink I can have all night long, above all during the warm season – I was imagining myself on a panorama pool in Cancun, sipping this ice glass. As some other members of the jury noted, indeed, it was not very much innovative cocktail – but it was the best flavor for most of us.

 

At Octans, the cocktail Carascastagnette was prepared with Rhum Diplomatico, home made pineapple liquor, Gran Marnier and Habanero. It was served together with an home made pineapple mousse prepared with cinnamon (heaven!). The combo was great, as well the cocktail. As taste, it reminds a bit the first one at The Tube, a bit girly.
Octans had definitely one of the better atmosphere for the night and the preparation was very captivating. I would have stayed there all night long!

Last but not least, it was the turn of Konrad. We were welcomed in the downstairs cozy bar room: their drink was called Cozaron, another word  game meaning as well “Konrad’s Son”.
The cocktail was prepared homemade cranberry jam. To me, while the idea was pretty much the most original one, the flavor was too much sweet, but the innovative effort was extraordinary.

 

Based on the average vote of the whole jury – about the name, the presentation, the taste, the originality, the winner of the first Iron Bartender competition was the Go Ten drink.

For us, it was a very nice initiative, something finally different that gives the possibility not only to the jury but as well to customers to try new cocktails – they will remain in the bar menu in fact for an entire month until the next competition.

A huge thank you from Barefoot in Luxembourg to Paul for the invitation, to Olivia our wonderful hostess for the night and to the teams of all the bars participating – you did great and we are really curious to follow up the results of next round.

The amazing pictures coming with this articles are kind courtesy of Nena Corner Photography, who joined us in the jury.

Nemo’s, Kirchberg, Luxembourg City

After long time, last week was finally the time to go to the movies again. I had a girls night with a friend and we decided to go to watch the new “50 shades”. I was a bit skeptical as I was very deluded by the first one of the series but I have to say this one, to me, was definitely better. Not an intellectual movie, for sure, but at least a better plot and some very romantic bits (yes, I cried).

After the movie, we decided to stop at Utopolis for dinner and we headed to Nemo’s, a small Japanese restaurant. It was full being a Saturday night and we did not reserve ahead, but they were anyway able to find us a small table. I ordered once from them online and the sushi was not very good – but it was already couple of years ago, so I wanted to give them another try.

The service was informal and pretty fast, we went for a beer and a glass of wine and ordered a Sushi Sashimi Combo. The platter was quite good for sharing – I had a huge box of pop-corn during the movie – for more consistent appetites it would definitely be better order the bigger combinations

Couple of pictures of our dinner and my considerations about the night.

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What I liked about Nemo’s:

– It was a very good after-movie solution: fast and smiling service, nice food combinations, comfortable location.
– Our sushi sashimi combo was a good portion to share, the fish was fresh and well prepared and the variety was impressive for such small platter.
– The price was more than fair (less than 30 euro each for two drinks, the sushi platter, coffee and sake).

What I liked a bit less about Nemo’s:

– Indeed, being in the middle of the Utopolis and with clear windows, the location is definitely not fashion and a bit chaotic. I would not consider to visit it on purposes, but this is indeed the best after-movie solution for me.

In conclusion: Sushi at Nemo’s was pretty good. If you are around Kirchberg or at the movies and you want to have some nice Japanese food, this is definitely a recommended informal place for me.