Reloaded: Max & Moritz, Belair, Luxembourg

You might remember that, for the couple of years I lived in Belair, Max & Moritz was my nightcap place. I loved it and so I could have not been happier when Frank invited me last week end to try their new menu.

The place has not change much since my last recent visit: the space of the bar is separated from the one of the restaurant and I personally appreciate this choice very much. On the restaurant’s side, warm, cozy, intimate, plexiglass structures have been included to adapt the space to the new Covid rules. Still, the lovely couches on the windows, the tall wooden tables in the middle of the room, the lamps, the pillows, everything remained and welcome you in a lovely atmosphere.

Having a great bar on side means you could start your dinner with a great cocktail: the choice at Max & Moritz is pretty wide and my favorite one is definitely the Munich Mule, a Moscow Mule prepared with Hendricks Gin – sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

The menu is also charming: the first feeling myself and Rita had was that “we wanted to try it all”. As it was not possible, we decided to go for a “sharing option”, instead of ordering dishes just for ourselves.

We had: truffle croquettes (Rita’s favorite), bone marrow (served with home made pan brioche and red onions confit), Rockefeller oysters (my personal choice) and dry-aged Portuguese sirloin, served with vegetable and mashed potatoes.

If you are two people and you want to share starters, a number of four / five starters is more than appropriate, while another option might be to have a small starter each and then ordering a main dish. The focus of the main dishes menu is undeniably on the meat, but you have also some decent fish and vegetarian options.

We were pretty full after the meal, but we still had a small space for the dessert – you could not say no to dessert, right? Rita went for apple crumble, while me, as I cannot once again decide, I opted for the cafe’ du chef, which included 5 small-sized desserts chosen by the chef. Next to that, we had an unforgettable Espresso Martini.

Pictures of our dinner followed by my final impressions about Max & Moritz.

What I loved about Max & Moritz:

  • With no doubts, I love the place. It is extremely different from most of the places you can visit in Luxembourg and what makes it feel special is definitely the hearty atmosphere, relaxed, easy going. A place in which you can stay from after-work to after-dinner without feeling bored. The d√©cor is very unique and if it was not for the windows on the street, you can easily forget to be in Luxembourg and find yourself in a posh eatery in Shoreditch.
  • Food is to die for: I have been among the first clients of Max & Moritz, therefore I can testify how their menu, over the time, has found its identity and it is now mature enough to be defined not just as a restaurant annexed to a great cocktail bar, but a great restaurant itself. As said above, there is nothing on the menu which was not appealing, if you like sharing, this is definitely the place for you as well as if you are a meat lovers. The dish I liked most, together with the sirloin, which was melting in my mouth as butter, was indeed the Rockefeller oysters, which are prepared with garlic, parsley, baby spinach and bread crumbs and baked. I am sure, even if you are not a fan of oysters, you will love them! My next stop will be definitely the truffle burger ūüėõ
  • Service: kind, friendly, smiley. If you are in doubt, trust your waiter, as they are really prepared about the menu. Cocktails: what I can add? I think they are just the cherry on the cake of this amazing place. Do not miss the Espresso Martini to close your dinner – just espresso is boring, right?

What I liked a bit less about Max & Moritz:

  • Currently the only thing I don’t like is that I cannot just walk there (and back!) from my apartment anymore, like when I was living around the corner ūüôā

In conclusion: if you are looking for a warm and cozy restaurant for a night out with friends or your date, look no further. Max & Moritz is the perfect place to share a dinner with your loved one: food is delicious, cocktails well prepared and service welcoming. Whatever occasion you are celebrating, you cannot go wrong choosing Max & Moritz.

PS Rita has a great page on Instagram as well where she talks about Luxembourg, cooking and travels. Follow her here.

 

Kay, the new restaurant of Casino Luxembourg, City Centre

As promised on Monday, we got another “new place” on the radar which we tried this week. Kay, the new restaurant of the Casino Luxembourg, open its door last Thursday. The idea, this time, compared to the previous catering experiences at Casino, is to have a “real” restaurant, which is kind of independent from the museum – hence the entrance on Boulevard Roosevelt which allowed the access also in the evening.

The restaurant, from the press communication, proposes a creative Peruvian cuisine about natural ingredients. Ca va sans dire, I was very curious to try it and I booked a table with A. for Monday night.

The welcome was extremely kind. It was Monday and the weather was everything but nice, so the restaurant looks pretty empty. The décor has not significantly changed compared to before Рat least for what I can remember Рand table are left pretty minimal and naked. This completes a bright look of the main room, with the huge windows on the bridge, which should definitely give a suggestive view during less rainy evenings.

Our jackets and umbrellas were taken to the wardrobe and we were accommodated to our table.
First of all, we were given the cocktail list, which is pretty original – starting from cocktails’ names – and has alcoholic and non-alcoholic choices. We decided to go classic and ordered a pisco sour.

Together with two slices of tasty bread, we were given and presented the menu card: 6 choices for cold starters and around the same number for hot starters (meat, fish and vegan). Three choices for main: burger (beef or vegetarian), T-Bone and duck. We were explained in details the concept behind the dishes and the accent on natural elements – fermentation, probiotics, tastes.

We ordered 4 starters to share, 2 cold and 2 hot: the marinated nikkei, the “surprise dish” (osez! was the description), the vegan tiradito and roast-beef/peanuts butter potatoes balls. Three dishes out of the starter menu were not available (including octopus and razor clams), so we were offered a mini portion of clams to try.

We concluded with dessert: I had the Pan Comido (bread ice cream, honey, coffee, dates cake and tomatoes) while Angela had Ying and Yang, with chocolate and ginger sorbet.

The total bill reads 101 Euro which included: two cocktails, 4 starters to share, 1 bottle of water and 2 dessert (50 Euro each roughly). Pictures of the dinner followed by my impressions of Kay Restaurant.

What I liked about Kay Restaurant:

  • The concept behind and the idea of cuisine, for what we tried, is very interesting: in particular, I liked very much the marinated Nikkei and both desserts were surprisingly innovative and tasty.
  • The explanation of the dishes is made in details and the lady who is taking main care of the service is extremely sweet and polite.
  • I like the idea of having dinner in a museum and I am sure during sunny days the view would be amazing as well.

What I liked a bit less about Kay Restaurant:

  • Not all the dishes convinced us: the razor clams we tasted missed something and the vegan ceviche was a dish to forget. What confused me most, was the menu: while the starter section is well assorted, the mains look totally out of the contest and are very limited regarding choice – only one vegetarian dish, not even one fish one. The Pisco as well was not memorable.
  • While the main lady was very professional, the rest of the service was a bit shy and not very attentive. The restaurant was empty so small mistakes were immediately corrected, but we had the impression if the restaurant was full, the issues would have been more.
  • Finally: we felt we slightly overpaid for our dinner and this is my main blocking point to come back. It was Monday night, so a cocktail was fine for us and we were feeling sharing, so we had only two starters. But we made a quick calculation that with a main course (30 – 38 Eur) and a bottle of wine, the bill would have been scandalously higher for the feeling we had about the dinner.

In conclusion: the new Kay restaurant proposes a creative Peruvian kitchen in a very special atmosphere, the one of the Casino Luxembourg museum, in the city center. The restaurant has recently opened, so has definitely room for improvement service wise and in regards to the variety of the choices of the menu. I would definitely recommend it for a night out dinner or an after-shopping lunch with your girlfriends. Be careful: it might not be the place for you if you are on a budget.

The new “Rotisserie Ardennaise”

I am very excited as in the forthcoming weeks I put finally down a bit of planning and scheduled several visits to restaurants I have never been before. I have indeed realized I became a bit boring recently in my food choices and was going more to usual places where I feel “at home”, instead of being adventurous as I used to be in the past. Time for a change.

Last Friday night I booked at the new Rotisserie Ardennaise. The restaurant, you might remember, used to be one of my favorite when I was still living in Belair and has been now acquired by Come a La Maison group, so I was very curious to try it and see if and how it changed.

You can easily book online – I love places where you can book online! -.

We got there at 8 pm and the place was almost very packed. We were accommodated in the side room – honestly at the beginning I was a bit pissed, as it is definitely less charming, but soon I realized it is also less noisy than the main one.

The menu is mainly around meat, with three areas of choice: rotisserie (with chicken, pork, sausages to mention few), outstanding meat (as they call them, including beef filet, entrecote, burger..) and main dishes (where you have also couple of fish dishes, but no vegetarian options). Few starters are also in the menu and you have a great selection of sides (from truffle potatoes to aubergine parmigiana – one choice included in the price of your main together with the salad).

We started with a glass of champagne rose and one of wine to kick off the night, the chef welcome consisted in a chicken nuggets with ketchup sauce, both home made.
To follow, I had T√™te de Veau Croustillante while E. had burrata salad. As main I had Pigeonneau et Sa R√ītie, while E. had half chicken roasted. I had truffle potatoes as side, while he had seasonal vegetables (Brussel sprouts and potatoes).

Our final bill read 235 Eur, of which 119 Eur for the one, a bottle of St. Estephe – so around 50 Euro each excluding the wine. Pictures of the dinner followed by my impressions about Rotisserie Ardennaise.

What I loved about Rotisserie Ardennaise:

  • I like very much the place. I used to like it also in the previous version, which was very much old fashion. They keep the spirit of the old place but made it a bit more modern, with this very strong liberty accent which to me it is making it extremely chic (yes, you know I am not a fan of minimal places, so this is encountering my taste more).

  • Food was delicious: we understood our dinner was going to be very tasty from the amuse bouche. Generally I pretty much dislike everything which is proposed as amuse bouche in restaurants, this time it was extremely good. The burrata salad, prepared with almonds and strawberry, was the best starter and my pigeon was to die for. Pigeon is one of my favorite dish and I tend to be extremely critical – this one was amazing, and was accompanied by beans with bacon and his juice.

  • When we got the bill, we the price – if we took off the wine – was extremely fair. The wine list includes several choices for limited price (around 30 Eur) and pigeon was the most expensive item on the list. Therefore you can get out with a definitely cheaper bill – for a very nice dinner.

What I liked a bit less about Rotisserie Ardennaise:

  • We had a very pleasant night and I would definitely come back. It happened very often that in the questions I received through my Instagram page, people are asking about meat restaurants in Luxembourg and usually I am very much in difficulties about what to reply, as so far there was not a place with a strong meat menu that I liked. Rotisserie Ardennaise is definitely now this place and even if they have been open just for one week, I was incredibly surprised about how good the food is. Hopefully they keep it up.

  • If we need to find something to improve, it would be definitely the service: while ma√ģtre de salle was extremely competent, polite and present, the rest of the staff was a bit confused and out of the contest – one waitress was going around for our small rooms with dishes asking to whom they belong. The place is new, so it is totally understandable and I am sure they will improve.

  • Also, for my taste, the wine list has either extremely expensive wines or cheap ones – I would have personally preferred to have a better choice in the middle price range, but again, this is a personal point.

 

To conclude: I was impressed by Rotisserie Ardennaise. To me it can clear become quickly the best meat restaurant in Luxembourg city. The place is very fancy, food is delicious and the price is fair. Definitely recommended: perfect for a dinner date, a family gathering or a night out with friends.

Urban City Luxembourg, a lunch in town

I usually tend to avoid writing a blog post about places which are very much known, but this time I really feel that Urban City needs a mention, as it started to fulfill recently a need it emerged I have after the lockdown. A place to have a nice, fairly priced and easy going lunch in town, but with a cool atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong: Luxembourg city center is definitely full of pleasant places for having lunch, but was missing for me a category in the middle, in-between a fancy, rather expensive lunch (Giallo, Um Plateau, to name few) as opposite at a daily lunch at the office (like at La Table du Pain).

I decided to write this review after being there couple of times, on Fridays I had off work – hence the beers ūüôā

First time I had the falafel wrap – next to a classic burger for my companion of the day. Second time I had zucchini fries and avocado toast with poached eggs – while I well sold to my friend the falafel wrap I had the first time. To be honest there was a third time where I had a club sandwich, but I was too hungry to take a picture, so please use your imagination.

Here’s are the pictures of the lunch I had at Urban City, followed by my general impressions about the places and the food.

 

What I loved about having lunch at Urban City:

  • Food is to die for. The falafel wrap is to me probably the best dish they had on the menu, but having tried the burger, the sandwich and the toast, I can say that honestly everything I tried is really good, well seasoned, not greasy at all. Sauces and fries are also worth a mention.
  • Service is smiling and present – oh, what a pleasant surprise for such a crowded place! You never feel forgotten, dishes are coming quite fast and waiters/waitresses have even the time to share jokes with you – happened the last time, when we took huge time to decide what to order as I could already acknowledge everything is so good there.
  • I don’t have much to tell you more about the ambience compared to what you probably know already, but Urban City is definitely a cool place where you can go straight from the office, in your sweatpants after a walk around the city (or off your bed) or already dressed up for the night. What I want to add is that, even if so central, the price for the lunch is very fair: every time we spent around 50 Euro in two people (so 25 Eur each), including beers and coffee, euro more, euro less depending on the dishes. Probably it is not the place to have lunch every day, but it definitely well compares to other similar places.
    And don’t forget, kitchen is open non-stop, so you can enjoy your “lunch” at whatever time in the afternoon.

What I liked a bit less about having lunch at Urban City:

  • Not much honestly. Probably I recognize the fact that once it will be winter, having lunch inside will be less cool (for my taste) than being on the terrace, but still pretty good.
  • Finally, can you please cut the zucchini fries a bit smaller? Like actual fries? I think they will taste really better, but this is just a personal suggestion ūüôā

In conclusion: I had to re-visit my motto of not having food where I normally have drinks. Urban City is the perfect place for a lunch in town: cool, easy going and fairly priced. Amazing and well presented dishes, including a wide choice for vegetarian. I am very much sure they are so well-known that they don’t need my blog post, still we had such nice time there recently I find impossible not to share.

Where to: have a night out with friends in Luxembourg (Summer Edition)

It is Wednesday and, like Ulysse, I feel the voice of the Sirens calling me. I try to resist, after a week like last one, that has been the happiest one of my year (my best friend was visiting from Italy) but also, most probably, the most destructive one. I am seated down at my desk, overlooking a sad, orange landscape of offices and I am just dreaming about having a drink. So I decided to trick the waiting with another summary post, this time to include a question that I often find in the Google search related to my blog. I have friends visiting – someone to take out, where do I go for an easy night out?

If you have been living in Luxembourg for more than a while, you definitely know a day of the week can change everything about one place or another. With few exceptions (Paname, Urban, Goten, Tube, you name them), at most of the bars, you have been there last week on a Wednesday and it was the most amazing place ever, now on a Friday night it is creepy and boring.

Here some of my favorite – and as usual, feel free to comment with your own , I am always very happy to discover or revaluate locations:

On a Monday Evening: Come a La Maison

This is the saddest day of the week. First of all, because your friends have been drinking all the week end and now they are full of healthy life good purposes – which will last till tomorrow – and run away from whatever invitation (you have been drinking as well, but you never had good purposes to start with). Second, because most of the cool places are closed on Mondays.¬†But it might be the case you have a friend visiting only for the night (in Italian, I would say “che culo”), that your boss is off on Tuesday morning or you want to celebrate something special (like just being Monday) and you want to go out. Not many options, but my “to go” place is Come a La Maison. Even if you might remember from here, I am not very much fan of the restaurant, on Monday night they have the Italian after-work from 6 pm to 9 pm, really Italian style, meaning with a free buffet of food. Nice Italian food, like charcuterie, suppli’, meaballs, fresh marinated fish, pizza, cheese. It is not overcrowded, above all on the terrace during cloudy days, but yet at the third bottle of prosecco you might forget it is only still Monday – I know someone around here which occurred to be exactly in the same¬†situation last Monday.
So, to sum up: you pay for your drinks, you eat (or nibble) how much you want (for free), you have music, pleasant atmosphere (as always at Come a la Maison) and a nice surrounding of business people who are escaping Mondays like you are doing – or at least trying. If you feel your stomach is still empty (or too full of alcohol), you can even stop by for dinner.

(Pics from Come a La Maison website)

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On a Tuesday Evening: Tempo Bar

Becoming old, I started loving places where you don’t go for meeting new people but just for being around your own friends and enjoying it. Consequently, I also appreciate places where the music is not that loud and you can feel a bit “off the beaten tracks” (even if it is quite difficult in Luxembourg, but still). There is a place I love during the warm season and I always find underrated under the pure “night out” point of view and it is Tempo Bar, in Kirchberg. We start from saying that the interior design is lovely and the food is generally delicious, so I appreciate coming¬†here as well for a business lunch or dinner. But the terrace has an amazing potential that is, to me, mostly unexpressed. This is one of the place I tend not to talk too much about as I am feeling afraid to find it completely packed next time I am coming back.
What does Tempo offer you?¬†A unique, enchanting terrace. Overlooking Mudam, with the Philharmonie and its white shape at your back. A valid drink menu for a pre-dinner or long-afterwork drink, with fair prices – among which, my favorite, is definitely Alice Hartmann Cremant. Aside from the dinner menu, a variegate, interesting “appetizer” menu to share, including classic like oysters, charcuterie and cheese platters , but with some creative twists, – I recommend you¬†to try¬†the mini burgers – to die for!. It does not come like an extremely cheap place regarding food¬†– and I am happy it is not – but it is definitely worth a try, above all during sunny days and if you are with someone who is new in Luxembourg.


On a Wednesday Evening: Lady Jane

As most of the cool nights during the week are now happening on Thursdays, I tend to save myself on Wednesday night and to give my preference, in case I (really) (have to) go out, to more intimate places. At the moment, my favorite among them is Lady Jane, in the city center.
Now – you love it or hate it. The place is a speakeasy: so, the entrance is hidden, you need to book as they have service only at the table and you need a password to get in – not too complicated to obtain, but I cannot unveil you all the secrets, rights?
What I need to tell you: getting into Lady Jane, not with some difficulties if you, like me, totally miss balance, is like getting into the living room of an old aunt. A crazy one, who is hanging lamps upside down. The cocktail menu, which is changing on a regular basis and until end of summer will be just orally decanted, is amazing. Amazing meaning something you might have not regularly seen in other places around (a more polished and calmer Experimental Cocktail Club in Chinatown). For alcohol combinations and presentations. Smoke, flowers, bamboo straws are on the menu. Next to the drinks and the quiet atmosphere (when there are no DJs on the agenda), you have a nice and unexpected menu for appetizers – to share or to eat alone. Portions are fair as well as prices. A special note to the service, that still, more than one year after the place opened, it is still to me one of the best in town. The only downside? No terrace, so to smoke you have, again, to roll down the stairs.

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On a Thursday Evening: Briscolino or Project LuX

On Thursday you normally would be difficult to go wrong. If you don’t want to go to your¬†“usual bar”,¬†¬†there are several nights around town in which my favorite is definitely Briscolino, the Italian after-work (here we go, again), at La Briscola. The crowd is mostly composed by young professional, you have a DJ set which intensity is going up with the night and¬†a delicious Italian buffet.

Another similar option is proposed by Project LuX: while Briscolino, the name says it all, is always happening at La Briscola, Project LuX parties are always changing location Рand sometimes also day of the week. Ikki, Skybar, Boos Café, Le Sud. Follow their page and you will be updated on a regular basis on their parties. The concept is the same, replicated at different venues: dj set, finger food, drinks, cool people. The place to see and to be seen.

On a Friday Evening: This is your free night, I leave the choice with you¬†– my favorite list is too long, from L’Avenue to Tender, from Paname to Llama.

On a Saturday Evening: Metropolitan

Saturday is generally too packed everywhere – so if you want a cool place where you don’t have to wait ages to drink and you can also nibble something, my suggestion would definitely be Metropolitan, in Place de Paris. You will not miss a thing: you will have the “people watching” component, you will have a nice list of drinks (including a very good Bloody Mary and a lovely Sicilian red wine), you will have an appetizers (or dinner) menu served till late – go for the sliders, they are yummy! The place is always full, but, differently from some others around,¬†you will always find a table – and I love their white benches, they are so comfortable you can forget to leave.

(Pics from Editus)

On a Sunday Evening: Scott’s Pub, Soho and B13

Here I will close our week long drinking and eating around Luxembourg with three suggestions. If you want to let your hair down, Scott’s Pub. This place does not need any presentation on my side, but I would like introducing it here again¬†as, since they changed their menu card, I feel the urge to visit them at least once per week. My personal favorite are their Truffle Fries and their Unfiltered beer. Bonus point: the unbeatable view.

Second place, if you still feel like partying, at Soho they organize cool Sunday parties Рcheck out their FB page to be sure you are on the right Sunday! The atmosphere is pretty on the young and fashion side, but if you go with your friends early you will get into the party mood immediately. Outside bar, nice list of cocktails (a very good Aperol Spritz indeed) and normally a food corner if you feel hungry Рlast time I have been there they had a pasta corner and shisha was available to smoke.
(Pics from FB)

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Third place, if you are with your in-laws or if you are looking for some peace after a week-end of alcohol overindulgence – B13 in Bertrange pedestrian area – you can easily get there with bus 5/6 that are stopping just in front. This is again one of my favorite terrace in Luxembourg, they do nice cocktails, have a good choice of wine and have a pretty wide selection of dishes also to share – and if you don’t want to share, go for vitello tonnato. It does not come as very cheap, but you will start saving from Monday right?

(Pictures are mine, if not stated differently)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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)

After-work at El Barrio, Kirchberg, Luxembourg

One of the nicest things about working in Kirchberg is that, during the week, after work, I have often the possibility to visit places that I would normally not, as totally opposite than the area where I live now .

Over the week of Holy Mary, in August, I had some friends visiting from Italy and as I could not take all the week off Рeven if I would! Рduring the working week one evening they came to pick me up at the office and we decided for the first round of drinks to stay around there. We took the opportunity to visit for the first time El Barrio, the Spanish restaurant that recently replaced La Boqueria.

If you remember my previous reviews, La Boqueria used to be one of my favorite places for food and ambience and I had also a private dinner there with Sergi Arola and was awesome. On the other side, it was coming pretty expensive (that generally for me it is not necessarily a negative point but I could see where the comment was coming from) and, above all, the last couple of times I have visited it, the service was not memorable Рwell, I would say, it was awful. In particular, I have been there less than 10 days before the final closure and I remember I had the clear feeling things were going downhill Рwhile we spent more than 200 Euro only for drinks and some tapas and even if the place was completely empty, we have been relegated to the smallest table in the room and we were ignored for all the time of the dinner.

Anyway – this is history now and I was happy the place found quite soon a new investor.

The location of El Barrio did not change much and it is still stunning. Again, one of my favorite place in Luxembourg for ambience. We didn’t reserve and we understood in the future this might¬†be a bad idea, considering it was a Monday night the place was really full already at 7:30 pm. Luckily they were able to find us a spot.

We were accommodate at the first floor, that, even having an open view on the restaurant, it is slightly less formal.

We went right for tapas and sangria Рwhat else? We ordered octopus (clearly one of my favorite dish), cod fingers, patron peppers, garlic bread and tuna fish filled peppers.

Pictures of our after-work (and of our silly pose in their unique bathroom) followed by my impressions about El Barrio.

What I liked about El Barrio:

  • The food was delicious: we had only a small selection and I definitely could not judge the whole menu at this stage, but what we had was really, really¬†tasty. My favorite bite was definitely the octopus – if it was not for my friend to stop me, I would have ordered other 3 portions. So if¬†octopus is your thing, I would recommend to order it. Also the patron peppers were yummy and this is a dish I failed to find authentic out of Spain – not in this case.
  • The place, once again, is lovely: if you are fed up of the standard minimal black and white decorations that are being cool in most of the new restaurants in Luxembourg now, if you are looking for a place that brings you joy and light, this is definitely the place for you. This is not the kind of place where you can be in a bad mood. I bet you will smile as soon as you enter the door.
  • Last, but not least, the service: as I said before, the service was a big¬†NO for me at the previous restaurant and I was a bit afraid of seeing how service would have been managed in a place so big, as I understand it might not be easy. Indeed, we could have not been happier: we had only one server for the night – that to me is the best choice – and he was one of the most amazing server I had ever encountered in my “blogger career” – no jokes. He was nice explaining us the dishes and the formulas, to address our doubts without being pushy, great to ensure our night was going well and finally to accompany us to the stairs when leaving. Very good job!

What I liked a bit less about El Barrio:

  • So, as per above, our evening was very pleasant and I look forward to come back again to try the full menu. If I have only to find couple of notes: it was August and the weather was cloudy but not that bad. We want to eat on the terrace (that is covered, so not a big issue) and we couldn’t, as it was closed. We couldn’t even smoke there and had to go each and every time downstairs. I think one of the nice things of El Barrio is definitely the terrace and it is a pity to keep it completely closed for the clients.
  • Regarding the food, it was all tasty and well presented. The only dish I would not order again and I would not recommend would be the garlic bread. I was expecting some hot and salty grilled bread, what we received was a plain baguette accompanied by aioli sauce. Reading back the menu at¬†home, it was clear that my expectations were wrong (and it says bread and garlic mayo), but still not worth it to me.

In conclusion: I am happy to say that for what I have seen so far El Barrio really improved the general standards compared to the previous brand. Food is delicious, portions more than fair as well as prices and our service was amazing. To that, you have to add this is one of the most stunning location in Luxembourg and your view is completed. I would say this is perfect for an upmarket after-work, for a business event, a girls night out and definitely a date – in that case, if you invite me, be aware I would go for the Royal Sangria ūüėõ

 

Mu Restaurant at Sofitel Le Grand Ducal

Unexpectedly but true, we are finally back on track with our reviews. As you may have already seen, there are couple of news on the blog, starting from our new addition Angela, who will take care of gastro-events and will help Jenni and I in covering as much as we can about the social life in Luxembourg.

Now – talking about food – on Friday night it was finally girls-night and¬†with a big night ahead, Jenni and I decided to have some food, but in style, before hitting the dance floor. Normally ,when we go out on the week-ends, I don’t like having a full 3-courses dinner – I am 36, you know, and afterwards I would feel just the urge to jump in my bed instead of at Paname ūüôā
At the same time, while¬†having some tapas style dinner, we were looking for a kind of¬†poshy¬†location – as we wanted to dress up a bit for the night ūüôā¬†– so we decided to try Mu, the almost new restaurant inside Sofitel Le Grand Ducal. Indeed Mu has been since its opening on my “to try” list, but I was always skipping it, as my previous dining experiences at Sofitel were awful.

We got a reservation for 8:30 pm on Friday night and our welcome was nice and friendly. The restaurant has been completely changed compared to when it was “L’Etoile Top Floor” and has a more relaxed and young appearance – still stylish and sophisticated, but more on the urban side.

The mood of the menu has also completely changed: understood it was our first time there, our waiter was really nice to explain us the formulas. There are several tapas, perfect to share or as starter, and then a list of main. While the focus of the main courses can be definitely found in beef dishes (with a great choice of sides and homemade sauces), the menu is not shy of solutions for non-meat eaters.

We drunk a glass of champagne before starting and as per our plan, we went for tapas: we ordered babaganoush (eggplant hummus), vegetarian fataya (pastry ravioli), clams, tuna tataki, scallops and octopus.

Dishes were surprisingly good: as said, based on my past experiences with Sofitel Le Grand Ducal, my expectations were not that high. I was glad to be extremely wrong. In particular, the scallops were amazing (and I am not a fan of scallops), lightly hot and with grilled pineapple. Octopus, prepared with pimento du patron (one of the dishes I miss most from Lanzarote), was soft and tasty. And finally the tuna tataki was just fresh, delicious and perfectly prepared.

The other two tapas – babaganoush and fataya – were definitely nice but personally speaking missed a bit of the quid other dishes had (the fataya in particular) so I would not order them again.

Over the course of the dinner, we drunk an amazing Chassagne-Montrachet 2012.

After 6 tapas in total we were pretty full, so even if the list of dessert (and the cheese selection) was great, we decided to conclude with a coffee and two rounds of digestif.

Pictures of our dinner followed by my impressions.


What I loved about Mu Luxembourg
:

  • I loved the mood of the place: it is refined and sophisticated, without being too formal. The view, ca va sans dire, is worth alone the visit and it is perfect for a date but also for a night with friends.
  • The tapas we had were to die for: I loved, loved the food and I cannot wait to come back to try further dishes on the menu. What was also impressive for me was that portions were not too tiny (6 tapas in two were enough for a girls’ dinner) and the prices are extremely fair (tapas are between 8 and 12 euros and main courses between 15 and 37 euros). This is definitely a place you can visit for having a lovely, tasteful, elegant dinner without asking for a loan.
  • The service was nice and polite, with some ups and downs, as normal: in particular, our welcome was great and at the restaurant reception they¬†were outstanding. During the night we had a bit the feeling to have been forgotten, but it was quickly recovered at the end with a delightful farewell.

What I liked a bit less about Mu Luxembourg:

  • I enjoyed very much our time there. As said, maybe because my expectations were very not that high, our evening came out amazing and I would definitely recommend the place and come back again soon. If I only have to find something I was less than impress,¬†the prices for SOME drinks. While the food menu is more than reasonable for such high-class restaurant, a glass of pink champagne is billed 37 Eur (yes, you read right) and the cheapest Cognac is also around 20 Eur. Still, if you want not to faint when you get the check, you have other options (international digestifs, like Limoncello or Bayles, for example, are still around 8 Euros) and the list of wine is coming with some nice options around 40 Eur.

In conclusion: if you are looking for a place with a modern elegant twist, but without unneeded white gloves, Mu is the place for you. They propose a fairly priced menu with amazing tapas – and some good-looking meat choices I have yet to try, including burgers. The service is lovely and the place definitely perfect to impress a date or for a night out. Watch out the drink choices if you don’t want your bill to add up.