New place: Skybar Restaurant and Bar, Bertrange, Luxembourg

Happy Monday! Another week has just started and I though it would have been a good idea, instead of fishing into my still pretty deep backlog, to inaugurate it with a brand new restaurant review. I posted some updated on my IG account during / after my visit at Skybar restaurant and bar and I received so many questions I felt very motivated to write this morning, despite a cold and unproductive week-end.

The opening of the new Skybar restaurant and bar was highly anticipated by a very mysterious social media campaign. A website was in place already couple of months ago, together with the possibility to reserve a table starting from November 15th, the day of the official opening. Pictures were very limited until the opening day, referring just to few interior design details, and they were no indications regarding the menu card or what kind of the food to expect. This was enough to make me very excited and to book my table for the day after the opening as soon as bookings were possible!

The Skybar is part of the new extension of City Concorde mall in Bertrange, not exactly in the city center, but still easily accessible by car and by bus (bus n. 6 from Gare Rocade / Hamilius taking around 15 minutes from the latest, off-peak hours).

As I really did not know what to expect, we reserved at 7:30 and, at that time, the mall shops were still opened and packed, so it was a bit awkward getting in fully dressed up. Once out of the elevator that is leading you to the second floor, the situation totally changed. The Skybar welcomed us with dark and wide windows on the floor and a crowd of curious people trying to spot what inside.
The atmosphere, there, was sophisticated and cosmopolitan, definitely reminiscing of an upscale lounge in a European bigger capital. I loved the contrast between the baroque bar at the entrance and the huge, linear kitchen on display at the end of the room. Space between the tables is more than fair and we were accommodated to one on the second row. Do not expect Heron Tower view – the issue here is not how tall the building is, but mainly that outside is very dark. The view should be amazing during the day. The space on the terrace is large almost as much as the one of the restaurant and it is already furnished with minimal, colorful design piece – we were already anticipating with Jenni long happy hours over the next summer season.

While sipping our fist glass of champagne of the night, we were studying the menu just handled to us. There is a very interesting separate drink list, with classic choices mixed with innovative cocktails’ names. Next to that, an alluring food menu: starters, mains including a wide vegetarian list of proposals and a ceviche bar, desserts, all with classic roots but contemporary mise-en-scene.

I went for salmon as starter and Jenni for scallops – but we ended up having half and half to try both. As main, I chose out of the ceviche menu – even if I was intrigued as well by most of the dishes proposed – the langoustine and pimento ceviche. Jenni had the octopus.

I concluded, ca va sans dire, with a plat of cheese, while Jenni had a matcha cheesecake. During the dinner, I had two glasses of Viognier and one glass of bio red proposed by the waiter with the cheese. We concluded with espresso and a grappa.

Total bill, including 2 starters, 2 main, 2 desserts, 2 aperitif, water, wine, coffee and digestif (we check all the boxes 🙂 ), read 170 Eur.

Pictures of our dinner and my first impressions regarding Skybar restaurant and bar to follow.


What I loved about Skybar restaurant and bar:

  • This is going to be definitely my week-end place to dine. I loved the atmosphere: sophisticated, without being excessively formal, modern, made of strident contrasts between the predominant dark colors of the interior and the colorful, bold details around the furniture. Background music (electronic/minimal): definitely an asset. Interesting crowd around: well dressed people of every age, great to see and to be seen. I talked a lot in the past reviews about places where you can have drinks & food in the mood for clubbing afterwards and this is definitely that kind of place that was missing.
  • Food was my personal highlight, as it overcame my expectations: I did not know what to await and when a place is such a show-off on the appearance side, it often ends up being boring or “already seen” on the gastronomic side. Not the case of Skybar: the food, from the amuse-bouche down to the cheese, was amazing. Every dish was complete in all its sides: difference in consistency, mix of tastes, roundness to the palate, presentation. I would definitely order again the langoustine ceviche (maybe not during a date LOL), but all the dishes we had were outstanding.
  • Couple of reviews ago I was talking about the fact that places that are just opened normally have room for improvements and it is normal to accept some small deficiencies in terms of service, as the team is still working on trial. Well, at Skybar there is nothing I could say about the service, except that it was great. Smiling, precise, on time. Our breaks between courses were never too long and we were offered cordial suggestions on our choices. Bravo.

What I liked a bit less about Skybar restaurant and bar:

  • I think if you get here, you already understood I loved the place and there is nothing to date I would change. Personally speaking, I would book again at a later slot for dinner – as said, it is a bit strange getting in through the mall with people still shopping – but this is definitely a failure on my side, as I was too curious to try it for booking later. Also – if you want to go there – booking is almost mandatory – try to make up your mind in advance, as they are now fully book for the next couple of weeks – I placed my next reservation, as soon as out, for mid-December. The online reservation system is very smart and user-friendly, so check online availabilities.

In conclusion: I believe the Skybar restaurant and bar might be the next place to be in the Luxembourg gastronomic and nightlife scene. The place is perfect to have dinner with friends or a date, before going out, for a celebration, “just because you need champagne”: it is posh, without being formal, the atmosphere is glamorous, the interior design urbane, the service young and fresh. It is definitely a place with a bold personality and an interesting menu, including vegetarian choices. Highly recommended if you fancy something different and new.

 

Advertisements

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 🙂
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 🙂 – 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.

Jam BBQ at Windsor: Unexpected and Full of Surprises

Corie and I have been invited to the last summer appointment of the Jam BBQ series, an evening of show cooking at the Atelier du Windsor in Bertrange.

It was a warm Wednesday of September and for us it was the first time.

Those of you who follow the blog probably know pretty well the level of expectations of Corie, mine not yet. Well, as it was a BBQ event, we said, let’s wait for a lot of succulent meat, grilled outside and soft to the heart, – sorry we are not vegan tonight!

When we arrived, the dehors of the Atelier du Windsor was already almost full, the fires and the stove were heated on a long table made available for a show cooking with several hands (I didn’t know, mea culpa, so it was a surprise and I loved it!). I only knew there would have been a barbecue, a DJ set and a cocktail stand held by the Atelier du Barman.

On one side, the bartender prepared delicious cocktails that my adventure partner and I missed out with the desire to taste the wines on display. Sigh!

For starters, the waitress served us a plate of sushi. Aaah! Although I am notoriously a sushi lover, I could not hide my expression of amazement mixed with confusion. I look at Corie and read the same loss in her.

windsor1

Keep calm, let’s try to understand.

Ok, a chat with Charlotte, the communication manager of the restaurant, and we understood that, apart from this entrée, the rest of the dishes would have provided after a nice hot bath on the grill, but no dish could be anticipated at that stage. Each recipe would have been improvised at the moment by five local and international chefs during a battle with hot forks and at the rhythm of their favorite playlists.

It was very interesting.

Here, between a Cremant and a IG story, we were served the first courses: scallops and prawns with salad at Chorizo, prepared by the Luxembourger chef Guy Kohnen and then rare Oxiblue grilled, served with braised pumpkin and apple foam, all infused with ginger. A well-chosen and unusual combination with the intriguing Asian scent, prepared by François Jagut chef of Les Roses, Mondorf-les-Bains.

And, listen, listen, finally the meat! Imagine the joy!

Indeed, three courses for carnivores followed. The beef “tagliata” by Gilbert Welter of Op der Leiffrächen, Kayl, also with strong Asian references and served strangely in a bowl. Homemade tacos with meat and vegetables by Francisco Arroyo Ramirez, Casa Natalia, Los Cabos, Mexique, lovely presentation and amazing tasting. Last but not least our coup de coeur: porc “Schneidewind style”, by Jan Schneidewind, pork in strips served on spicy bruschetta. I think I took the dish at least three times, while Corie did not stop until the owner shake hands to greet us 😉

The summer Jam BBQ at Atelier du Windsor was definitely a success.

During the colder months, the party will move indoor, with a similar formula, for a Sunday brunch children-friendly, Kitchen Party. On the menu: show cooking, entertainment and surprises for children, cocktail bar for adults and non-alcohol cocktails for the little ones, live music … It’s happening every first Sunday of the month: October 7th (SOLD OUT), November 4th, December 2nd.
Price is € 45 per person excluding drinks and a reservation is needed.

Cineast Festival: the 11th edition

Participating in a press conference always allows you to get in the mood that the event intends to transmit. This was the case of the presentation conference of Cineast, the Central and Eastern Europe Film Festival in Luxembourg held last week at the Cinématèque, that this year celebrates its 11th edition.

Together with Corie on my side and with a pen and paper (I had not done it for quite a while), I took notes 😉 to give you some more excitement and insider tips regarding the Festival.
In the warm atmosphere of the main cinema room and after a hot tea with croissants, the speakers told us with great humor the strong motivation that led them here.

“An X-ray of the former communist countries, a story of their sociological ghosts, traditions and history through a selection of the most beautiful films from Central and Eastern Europe expressed through a new wave of Czech, Polish, Romanian cinema and in general European Middle Eastern cinema “. The words gave us an idea of the main focus of the Festival, that will kick off on October 4th and will invade the Grand Duchy (so not just Luxembourg city, but as well other areas, as Vianden and Esch and off the boarder in Saarbrucken) with its events until October 21st.

CinEast2018_poster_nologo

We will see film contaminations and new trends that mirror the multiculturalism of the countries left by Communism, but also of their search for identity.
No iconic characters, but power of images and dialogues to celebrate with this edition the centenary of the independence of the Baltics.
On the menu, at the Cinemateque, Neimënster and Ciné Utopia, but also all around the capital, more than 100 films between movies and short films with a new entry: a film from Georgia, a novelty of this edition.

7 films in the race:

Ága / Ага, by Milko Lazarov

Alice T. by Radu Muntean

One Day / Egy nap by Zsófia Szilágyi

Take It or Leave It / Võta või jäta, by Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo

The Load / Teret, by Ognjen Glavonić

Silent Night / Cicha noc by Piotr Domalewski

Winter Flies / Všechno bude, by Olmo Omerzu.

An international jury will award the “Grand Prix” and the “Prix Spécial du jury” while the jury will award the “Prix de la Critique”. And the public? It will also be protagonist with an important role: the spectators will be called to contribute with the “Prix du Public”. The awards ceremony will be held on October 19th at the Cinématèque.

The festival will be not only an occasion to go to the movies, but also an opportunity to party, Luxembourg certainly does not pull back and will honor the countries represented with gastronomic evenings, photographic exhibitions and musical events, all to remember the precious link between
film and music.

Laco_Deczi_2_photo_by_Tomas_Krist

The musical program starts on Friday October 5th at Melusina with the traditional Balkan Party, hosted by the Macedonian brass band Džambo Aguševi Orchestra and DJ Tagada. A few days after the Polish group Pasimito will accompany live the classic silent film Battleship Potemkin at the Cinematheque (11/10). The Baltic Party at the Rotondes will be headlining the Latvian indie rock band Polifauna (13/10) and the next day the Slovak legend of the jazz trumpet Laco Deczi will perform at Neimënster during the Jazz Apéro (14/10 in 11:00). To finish in style, the closing party will be hosted by the French group Attoft Fanfare (Melusina 20/10).

Attentat_Fanfare_4

The cineart program is centered around the great photographic exhibition “Identities” (4-24 October), which will take place on Thursday, October 4th from 5:30 pm in the vaulted cellars of Neimënster, festival also offers two exhibitions of film posters: Polish Film Posters: Kliś Kubica Urbańczyk at the Ancien Cinema in Vianden with modern creations for well-known Polish films (October 4-20) as well as Art_Desire_Freedom: Czech Film Posters at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Luxembourg with original posters for films of the Czechoslovak New Wave (October 10-18).

Finally, the cinema-gastronomy program consists first of all of the gastronomic evening with a large selection of Eastern European dishes and drinks on 9 October at Brasserie Wenzel. In addition, there will also be specialties and snacks available during the concerts as well as special evenings dedicated to certain countries: the evening Georgian (6/10), Latvian (8/10), Czech (9/10), Slovenian (13/10), Slovak (13/10), Bulgarian (15/10) and Lithuanian (16/10).


Enjoy the show and find the detailed program here.

Tapas at Chez Rafael, Luxembourg

There are those nights you feel like eating out but not having a proper, formal dinner. This happens to me pretty often actually – if you follow our IG account (@corie.bratter), you realize we have many shared platters, Italian style apero, more than separated courses. As we wanted a bit to change last week, Jenni and I decided to head to Chez Rafael, a Spanish restaurant located in Place de Paris – our favorite area recently! – that proposes, among others, a great selection of tapas.

The restaurant has been there for ages – before I arrived in Luxembourg probably – and I have actually been there couple of years ago for lunch on several occasions when I was working in the area, but never visited during the evening. So, to change from our usual “charcuterie and cheese platter” we said, why not?

We got at Chez Rafael on a Friday night without reservation around 8.30 pm and we were afraid for a minute it was a bad idea as the place looks quite full. Luckily the owner was able to find a comfortable space for us quite quickly and we took a seat. There is a main menu of Spanish specialties, including paella – that seemed to be the main choice for all the other tables – and a separate list of tapas, available in the same number for the categories meat-based, vegetarian and with fish.

We ordered Patron’s Peppers, Galician Octopus, two times Bread with Tomato (actually we supposed the portion was just one slice, indeed it is composed by several…), Codfish balls and Tortilla. We had two glasses of Sangria to start (and 3 more in total afterwards) and we concluded with one espresso.

Total bill read 67 Eur for 2 persons.

Some pictures of our tapas dinner and my impressions.


What I liked about Chez Rafael:

  • Food was really amazing. Authentic taste, natural ingredients, a triumph for the palate. In particular, the octopus was extremely tender and it was prepared with fresh tomato and onion. The codfish balls were to die for and while normally I am not a fan of tortilla, the one we had was the best I have ever eaten in my life!
  • Service was extremely friendly: the owner was always smiling and doing polite jokes with us.
  • The price was exceptionally fair: we were very full (as the food was a lot, portions are not micro) and we spent barely 30 eur per person.

What I liked a bit less about Chez Rafael:

  • The place is not very fancy: the interior design is very basic without any particular feeling. Colorful, very clean, but still plain. That is perfect, but might not be appropriate if you are looking for something for a posh date.
  • Let’s face it: the service is “Spanish way”, so it took quite some time to us to be served, receive the food, have the bill and coffee. But that, again, was definitely fine to me, as I was not in a rush and I wanted to have a very relaxed evening with my friend. If you want to have dinner in 1 hour, it might not be the place for you.

In conclusion: I loved Chez Rafael, dining there took me back to Spain for one evening. The tapas were great and the service nice. Very recommended for a dinner with friends in a relaxed, informal ambience for a fair price. I cannot wait to come back to try more tapas and above all the wonderful paella that was passing in front of us.

Bouncewear: where basketball enthusiasts meet

On Saturday September 16th , Bouncewear opened its first store in Luxembourg near the station in Dommeldange .  The location, while a bit out of the city centre, is easy reachable and well connected.

The weather wasn’t the best but the store was nevertheless busy with clients who wanted to see what Bouncewear was all about.

Bouncewear is a Belgian retail chain specialized in pure basketball selling everything related to the sport: shirts, hoodies, footwear, basket balls and even books and accessories. Basically everything you can think of in connection with playing basketball.

On the opening day, they had a food truck serving Italian style pizza slices and pasta boxes with some different beverages. I don’t think the salesclerks had much free time to kill during the time I was there as many customers required their attention and assistance and were really interested in the products. I liked the interior design of the shop because it has lots of free space so the store wouldn’t feel too packed even if there were plenty of people at the same time. Also the articles of clothing are hang neatly and not squeezed close to one another as opposed to many cheap retail chains.

I think this shop will cater the needs of many basketball players and hopefully even encourage people for a more fit lifestyle!


Bouncewear

Address
2, rue Nennig
L-2214 Dommeldange / Luxembourg

Opening Hours
Monday:  closed
Tuesday to Friday:  11h – 18h
Saturday:  10h – 18h
Sunday: closed