La Biblioteca, Clausen, Luxembourg

Taking advantage of the visit of one of my best friend, on a relatively quiet Friday night – after a Thursday ended up at Saumur – we decided to try the new Mexican restaurant in the Rives de Clausen area, La Biblioteca. The restaurant opens its doors just the Tuesday before.
You can book your table online – thanks God, finally this is starting to be common as well in Luxembourg – and we got there ready and hungry at 8ish.

The place was still calm and we were allocated to a table indoor – unfortunately the terrace was already fully booked. The location is very cozy: forget Calavera and sombreros around, the place is all dark wood, books (La Biblioteca literally means The Library) and linear, minimal décor.

We started with a Corona beer and ordered a guacamole starter. The menu choice is limited: together with some entrée to share, you have a selection of main ingredients (chicken, beef, vegetables, etc.) to apply to the main course, in the shape of a burrito,  tacos or quesadilla. I went for a carne asada quesadilla, while M. went for a burrito.

We concluded with an espresso and a cognac and our final bill (starter to share, two beef mains, 3 beers, one bottle of water, one espresso and one cognac) read slight less than 90 Euro, 45 Eur per person.

As routine, pictures of our dinner are followed by my impressions on the restaurant.

What I liked about La Biblioteca:

  • I loved the mood of the place: finally an “exotic” restaurant with no cheesy decorations and music. The terrace is lovely, reminds me of some intimate places around Southbank in London. The service was friendly and all smiling, while kind of fast and a bit apprehensive, but the restaurant has been just opened for couple of days, so definitely understandable.
  • I loved the food: as it’s clear from my reviews, I definitely don’t appreciate much restaurants with an infinite menu choice. I prefer a shorter list, that maybe provides you with limited decisions, but definitely with fresher ingredients. Having been to Mexico, I was finding my quesadilla so similar to those I was eating in Cancun with my feet in the ocean (take me back please!) as much as I loved the guacamole with its nachos – forget processed food, this was truly delicious. I also loved the fact they did not provide you with French fries as side as basically everywhere around Luxembourg, but rice and a tasty, seasoned salad were in the dish.

What I liked a bit less about La Biblioteca:

  • For being a place that opens just in the same week, I feel things are almost all perfect. Definitely a bit of finishing here and there might be needed. The thing that might be less than impressive is how close tables are indoor. If you are booking on the week end for a romantic date, you might want to consider it. And a spicy sauce option with the main would have been highly appreciated on my side 🙂

 

In conclusion: I really liked La Biblioteca and I am looking forward to come back soon: it definitely has the ambience factor and the food is tasty and authentic. Remember to specify in your reservation if you want to dine on the terrace – I would do it next time – and definitely perfect if you are looking for a new, different informal place for a dinner with friends.

Rotisserie Ardennaise, Belair, Luxembourg City

On a quiet and sunny Monday evening, Kochi and I decided to start our week in style and spontaneously meet up for a drink in town immediately after work.
Following couple of rounds of wine in the very city center, we were exploring reasonable and nearby alternatives for dinner and decided to head to the Rotisserie Ardennaise, an old fashion Belair institution that is very close to where I live.
As said, the restaurant has been there for ages but has recently changed management and that looked a valid reason for us to try it.
Moreover, even if in my neighborhood, I was always a bit hesitant to try, as mostly attended by those formal and polished Luxembourgish families and aged couples. But wines overcame our shyness and after a quick call to ensure there was place available – yes, it was Monday, but in Luxembourg you never know! – we were welcomed at the restaurant.

The settings, as for above, are coming from another age, but personally speaking I find them quite sophisticated. The service on the other hand was smiling and quite informal – maybe because we were the youngest in the room 🙂 – and we were feeling immediately comfortable in the place.

Our order was anticipated by a carrots gazpacho and a small terrine. We went then both with bresaola carpaccio with truffle as starter. As for main, I decided then for a classic (beef filet with maître d’hôtel sauce, accompanied by crunchy vegetables and fries) while Kochi chose a ravioli dish with ham and truffle, again.

We drank a perfect bottle of Nuits Saint Georges during the dinner and concluded with a round (or maybe two as usual) of Grappa Le Diciotto Lune, a nice Italian grappa in barrique I have discovered already at La Briscola.

The final bill for food read 46 euro each, plus 98 Eur for the bottle of wine. Both rounds of digestif were offered.

Pictures of the dinner and then, comme d’ahbitude, impressions.

What I like about Rotisserie Ardenneise:

  • The food was unexpectedly bloody good: surely, the choices on the menu, the presentation as well as the dishes that were coming to the table were very “classic”, but in a good way. The quality of the materials is exceptional and the combination of tastes does not feel boring at all. My meat was butter, fries to die for (yes, I have a problem with French fries, I know) and the bresaola rich of flavors.
  • The service is nice: the restaurant manager used to work in a very well known Italian restaurant in town and inherited from there the radiant smile and the lovely manners.
  • The wine card proposes great choices for all your (wallet) mood, from “I will get my salary only next week” to “We need to celebrate in style”.

What I liked a bit less about Rotisserie Ardenneise:

  • We arrive at the restaurant 15 minutes before 9 pm and you can smell they were in a hurry to make us finishing “on time” as this is the kind of place where people go to eat at 7 pm. The order part and the last 30 minutes were a bit on a rush, that at list was my feeling: as soon as our main was over, we were immediately asked if we wanted a dessert, etc. Yes, we need to specify we are girls who love taking their time for dinner, having our break, ciggy pause, relax. Still, if you want to have dinner there, we suggest you to ago no later than 8.00 pm to enjoy it fully.

In conclusion: Dining at Rotisserie Ardenneise was pretty much a surprise. The food proposal is very classic, therefore it is suggested if you have to take out someone who needs an introduction to French cuisine, it is perfect for a family affair or a business dinner. Indeed we had pleasant time: the food is delicious and never boring, the service is lovely, for real, and the old fashion atmosphere is not much more than a pleasant surrounding.

 

Discovering Luxembourg’s Most Popular Sports and Pastimes

 

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You might be surprised, but I’m quite the sports fan! But having lived in Luxembourg for more than a decade, I’ve never really delved too deeply into the Grand-Duchy’s favorite sporting pastimes. That’s why I thought it was high time that I took some time to discover the most popular sports and pastimes that have become a way of life for Luxembourgers.

Despite the country’s small size, you’ll probably be surprised to learn that more than 100,000 Luxembourgers are licensed members of at least one sports federation. That’s quite a figure given that the nation’s population is less than half a million. Though the nation is small, they certainly take their sports seriously! Let’s take a look at the most popular sports for both playing and spectating in Luxembourg.

Earlier this year, TNS ILRES surveyed residents in Luxembourg to discover what sports Luxembourgers prefer to watch most. Unsurprisingly, football ranked first as the most popular spectator sport, both nationally and internationally. Almost one out of five (17%) of Grand Duchy respondents said they supported a local Luxembourg side and in fairness, Luxembourg football is very much on the up! Fola Esch recently made it through to the next qualifying round for the UEFA Europa League, while Progres Niederkorn stunned the football world by kicking the Scottish giants the Glasgow Rangers out of the same competition!

The second most popular spectator sport is cycling; also, unsurprising given that the nation has developed several successful professional cyclists and the proud tradition of the Tour de Luxembourg, which tends to act as a precursor to the Tour de France. Both motorsports and tennis are tied third for the most popular spectator sports among Luxembourgers.

I quickly learned, too, that although Luxembourgers love to watch professional sports, they like to play amateur sports themselves. Tennis is a particularly popular pastime for many, with 53 tennis clubs dotted around the Grand-Duchy. The sport is likely to grow in popularity, too, given that compatriot Gilles Muller is in the form of his life after reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals this year, knocking out Rafael Nadal along the way.

Road cycling is very popular among enthusiasts as well, thanks in no small part to the relatively flat terrain, which makes it easy for amateurs to get involved!

Cricket, on the other hand, is a sport that has experienced growth in Luxembourg in recent years. Supported largely by the community of ex-pat Brits, the domestic Luxembourgish league is growing steadily, and even the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Pierre Werner, is now a patron of the national game.

Luxembourgers do partake in rather more sedate games, too, with table and card games still proving popular amongst new and old generations. Luxembourg doesn’t quite have the same tradition for casinos as other principalities like Monaco, but it does have its own casino in the heart of Mondorf-Les-Bains: Casino 2000, which has plenty slot machines, table games, and a poker room. Texas Hold’em remains one of the most popular forms of poker in Luxembourg, ahead of diversified games like Omaha and 7-card stud.

It seems that the people of Luxembourg very much have a “marmite” attitude towards sports — they either love it or hate it! In the same TNS ILRES survey, it was found that while many people love watching and partaking in sports, almost a third (31%) said that they don’t follow or play any sport at all. Oh well, horses for courses, I guess!

 

Leonidas: More Than Just Chocolate

Leonidas chocolate shop recently opened its doors in the heart of Luxembourg on Grand Rue 99. This famous boutique selling exclusive chocolate pralines,  truffles, orange peel, marzipans, macaroons and other small sweets was located at Station district before moving to this more customer friendly location.

 Leonidas celebrated its official opening a few weeks ago by giving its customers a chance to sample several different kinds of chocolates and enjoy bubbles while having the professional explain the secrets of their products and answer any question the potential customer might have had. Personally I’m a huge fan of anything sweet, and I go crazy when I see chocolate especially. Leonidas didn’t disappoint me with their selections as the delicious flavours of chocolate exploded on my taste buds. My ability to eat chocolate is amazing and I probably tasted each one of the different chocolates available. Finding a favourite was more tricky as they all were really excellent quality and I liked many of them for different reasons. Leonidas’ probably has something for everyone.

Besides buying ready-made assorted chocolate boxes, there is a possibility to pick pieces on your own and customize the box according to your preferences. Leonidas is also a great choice for presents for all different occasions. Their boxes are nicely wrapped, chocolates nicely formed and the taste is mind-blowing.


Now that the location is closer to the city center, I’m sure the shop will enjoy more customers  as the clients can include Leonidas on their city shopping routine in an easier way.

 

Leonidas

86, Grand Rue L-1660 Luxembourg

T: + 352 22 44 50

Lunch at Au P’tit Max, Luxembourg City

After some very quiet months, we are slowly trying to make it up on new restaurant openings. On a sunny Friday, not yet back in the job routine, we decided to have a late lunch on the terrace of Au P’tit Max, that open its door quite recently on the pedestrian road leading to place d’Armes.

We reserved a table couple of hours before and we were kept a nice one on the window – other terrace tables are a bit more “in the middle of the street” for my tastes.

We ordered some water – that took ages to come – and went then for two Prawns / Avocado / Mango starters, followed for me by a Beef Tartare and for my partner in crime by a turbot filet with veggie side.

We accompanied our lunch with a bottle of Champagne and concluded with coffee and digestifs.

Pictures of our lunch followed by my review.

What I liked about Au P’tit Max:

  • The place is lovely and cared in details: I went in for a visit to the restroom and the first floor – the restaurant one – is like “OMG, I want to come here for dinner every night”. The terrace is similarly pleasant, even if in the busy Place D’Armes might sound a bit touristic.
  • The menu offers various choices, all very attractive  – classic but with a strong bit of creative ego. In particular my Beef Tartare presentation was super – as well as for the taste and the fries were one of the best I have tried in town – I could not stop eating them even if I was quite full.

What I liked a bit less about Au P’tit Max:

  • I definitely find the gastronomic effort a bit too much exaggerated for the dishes presented: a similar, even better result might have achieved with less pretentious portions. In particular, I was very deluded by the prawn starter – ridiculous price for 3 (right, 3) overcooked prawns. Our final bill, including a 60 euro bottle champagne and a round of digestif, read 180 Euro (1 water, 2 3-prawns-starters, 1 beef tartare, 1 grilled fish half filet, bubbles, coffee and simple digestif). I honestly feel I overpaid or, depending on the point of view, I could have eaten better for the same price.
  • On the slight delusion, the service has its very strong impact: except for the one who seems to be the manager, who was smiling and very responsive and kind, the other waiters looked bored and annoyed by our requests. After seating down, we remained almost 15 minutes without anybody coming to cheer us or give a menu and we had basically to stop a waiter to ask some water – we wanted an aperitif, but.. As said, the water itself took further 10 minutes to come. The place was definitely not busy and for that prices a bigger effort on that side must be definitely done.

In conclusion: I had not a bad lunch at Au P’tit Max: in particular I was surprised by the location – very nice – and my beef tartare would be definitely a dish to order again. On the other side, the service is definitely not in line with the bill and the feeling you got at the end is that you might find better places to spend the same amount of money. But as the experience was not bad in toto, I would definitely be back to eat inside and see if this makes any difference. Stay tuned.

I

 

A Night Out at Casino 2000

Many people visiting Luxembourg aren’t aware that this little country sports a fairly vibrant casino area. Casino 2000 is the main venue, but an array of restaurants and lounges (as well as the main hotel) surrounding it make it feel like its own little nightlife district. It’s a fun place to spend an evening out in the Mondorf area, so let’s go over some of the highlights.

It’s actually best to start the evening checking out one of the nearby restaurants, as there are some great gourmet options in the area (specifically in Mondorf-les-Bains). LE PARIS is a nice option, and is affiliated with Casino 2000, but the best restaurant in the area is probably Les Roses, a French-inspired establishment that offers fine dining in an elegant setting. Said to combine flavors of tradition and modernity, it has a menu that’s sure to delight and surprise. Dishes look simple and artful but taste complex, and nothing is too heavy—which makes it great as a first stop on a long night out.

Next comes a visit to the actual casino, which offers a large gaming venue with a fairly conventional aesthetic. You can seat yourself at slot machines, play both French and American roulette, and perhaps most interestingly, engage in some blackjack so long as you arrive after 7:00 PM. This is one of the games that’s migrated largely to online and mobile formats for a lot of people, particularly given that there are several variations of the game available through digital casinos. But even though online blackjack is simple and accessible, it’s an entertaining game to play in person, and Casino 2000’s focus on the game in the evenings is one of its most charming attributes.

As you enjoy the actual casino floor, you might also want to fit in a visit to the Purple Lounge, either to interrupt your evening of gaming or to cap off the night if you’re all finished. Another establishment directly associated with Casino 2000, the Purple Lounge is also a nice place to eat. But it’s best known as a place where music and food go hand in hand, given there are often live performances going on. Even if you already grabbed dinner at LE PARIS or Les Roses, the Purple Lounge is a nice place to have a drink and listen to some music, or perhaps enjoy a dessert or two.

All in all it makes for a nice evening out if you have one to spare in Luxembourg.

Let’s Cook Something Luxembourgish!

On June 10th, the morning of my birthday, I attended a show cooking event organized by well-known Luxembourgish chef Anne Faber together with kitchen store Eggo in Howald.
Eggo is specialized in customized kitchens and focuses on creating tailor-made kitchen solutions that are simultaneously fresh, practical, ergonomic, chic and ergonomic. Their store offers multiple models of different styles depending on your taste and budget and is worth of checking out if this topic is relevant to you.

Anne Faber welcomed me and the other guests with a glass of cremant as we arrived at the venue. She had also prepared some cheese biscuits that paired well with sparkling wine. We had some time to mingle around before the actual event started.

The idea of the show cooking was to explore some of her new recipes that are simple and fast to cook for a big crowd of people and yet are tasty to munch away during the Duke’s Day for instance. Summer is an excellent time to invite friends and family over and try out some typical Luxembourgish food which foreigners, such as myself, have very limited knowledge of. These recipes are also going to be part of Anne’s new cook book that’s scheduled to be out some time in autumn. All recipes can be found here.

The first dish we saw being prepared was Mettwurscht Muffins. Preparation didn’t take much time nor seemed to require much of special cooking skills. The key was to throw all ingredients in a bowl, blend and mix everything well together, pour the dough into muffin tins and voila, the mixture was ready to go in to the oven.

The second dish and the main course was Rocking Kachkeis Pasta which was noodles with Kachkeis, German “cook-cheese”, arugula and nuts.  The preparation of this dish wasn’t that complicated either and the end result reminded me of American mac and cheese dish though this was the local version of it. Kachkeis definitely gave a bit of a more intense taste and adding in some arugula and nuts gave a nice touch and balanced out the flavors. This was especially an interesting combination and definitely something I could imagine cooking in winter time. Kachkeis can be bought in any supermarket in Luxembourg.

For dessert we enjoyed some Spiced Orange Crème. I’ve always been a big fan of desserts and quite critical to judge them as well. This version of orange crème was very much like a mousse when it came to consistence and was much better in taste than I expected. I think I was expecting the type of orange crème that was served in my school canteen when I went to primary school and that was nowhere close to what I was eating on that Saturday. The recipe she was using was originally her grandmother’s well-kept secret that she had only recently shared with Anne. This dish required 3 freshly pressed oranges, whipped cream, eggs, sugar and cornstarch; the key was to make the dessert already one day prior to serving it in order to create right texture and soak up the flavors.

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Overall the event was a lot of fun. It wasn’t at all as formal as I had been afraid of but it was in fact, very casual. Anne was cheerful while she was demonstrating how to create these wonderful mouth-watering portions and we even had a chance to come and feel sauces and creams in progress.  Everyone had also a lot of time to talk to one another and make new contacts. I had great time and couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday.