A Drink at Brasserie Philippe, Luxembourg City

Being in Luxembourg for almost 12 years now, I noted that there are restaurants/bars that have been the same for ages – notwithstanding the quality or level of prices – while there are some places that changed management / name / kind of activity very often in a short period of time. I can name few, but one example I had in front of my eyes recently was the brasserie located on Rue Philippe II almost at the cross with Avenue Monterey.

It used to be for long time an Italian bar – I remember I was going there to watch football matches when I did not have TV at home! – but after that it lost a bit the plot – ice cream parlour, brunch place, restaurant, after-work.. it was not really clear to me what it was and it looked in all the cases a very touristic trap. During one of these changes, I got in to have an ice cream and prices were mad and service unbelievably rude.

Anyway – the place I am talking about now has a new name, Brasserie Philippe and look more one of those neighbhood places you can find in Limpersberg or Belair, a nice, refined one.

It was not on the top of my “to try” list, but it happened that on December 26th I got back to Luxembourg in the afternoon. I was a bit too cold to stay at the Christmas Market – well, just the addendum in Place Guillamme was still on -, it was too early for dinner and I was not in the mood for getting into one of the usual bars in the Old Town.

As Brasserie Philippe was open and not empty, we said, why not to try.

The menu out of the meals’ hours reads several kind of drinks and some snacks. We started ordering two glasses of Montepulciano, followed by a charcuterie platter, a wine refill and a further platter of cheese.

Find quick pictures of our afternoon treat followed by my general impressions.

What I liked about Brasserie Philippe:

  • Service was very nice. As per above, you have more the feeling of being in a local brasserie than in a bar in the very city center. It was public holiday and it was over week end, so they had finished the normal bread, but before taking our order the waiter informed us, saying they had just industrial bread and if it was fine. I am sure in some other places they would have not cared.
  • Prices are extremely fair: wine glasses were between 6 and 10 euro while the shared platters were in a range of 8 / 12 euro. Definitely more than acceptable for a downtown bar!
  • Location is cozy and warm. I also spied a lovely mezzanine dining room.
  • Choice of wine and drinks again is pretty wide (table next to us had gin tonic prepared in the big glasses with cucumber) and reasonably priced.

What I liked a bit less about Brasserie Philippe:

  • Let’s face the thruth: while the place is very nice, due to the location the client basis is very mixed – hence you have tourists and families, nothing too posh or sophisticated. So the perfect spot if you are around for shopping and you want to have a drink / a snack, not the place I would plan in advance to go for a night out.
  • My mum is always saying: If you don’t spend much, you cannot expect much. So, while I definitely appreciated that the shared platters were pretty cheap compared to the Luxembourg average, at the same time you cannot say they have an amazing quality – and cheese was mainly just brie. Still, while kind of commercial, they were fresh and tasty.

 

In conclusion: The renewed Brasserie Philippe, in the very city center, is the perfect place for a stop during a shopping afternoon or in-betweens errands. The selection of drinks is wide and prices are extremely reasonable compared to the location. Bonus point: a very kind service.

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House 17, Luxembourg City, Reloaded

Finally I made it for getting my (company) membership to House 17 and I decided to inaugurate the season inviting a client for a business dinner there. We reserved on a Monday night and got there ahead him with M. The bar area was quite animated and we stopped by for a drink before dinner.

During the past year, we visited the House 17 several times for drinks, but actually my last time at the restaurant was the one I reviewed here. Normally in the past I did not review a place more than once, but since the blog started to be quite mature and places are changing, I decided to tell you more about this new experience at House 17 as I felt several things were different – and several not – so would be good to have an update after long time.

House 17, located in this lovely building in the very city center, is generally a members-only club, but if you watch out for their calendar there are several occasions in which it is open to the public and you can join their events, mainly after-works, even without a membership card.

Coming back to us, at the bar, our glass of champagne was accompanied by some small, sophisticated appetizers. Once our guest arrived, we moved to the restaurant – that was very quiet instead, but we did not expect anything different for being a Monday night.

We started with a small amuse-bouche, followed for me by foie-gras and afterwards by a suggestion from the chef, roe deer. I did not take pictures of the other dishes as it was a business dinner and did not sound very appropriate – sorry! Anyway my other two companions had my same main, but a risotto as starter, that looked tasty. We accompanied the dinner with two lovely bottles of red wines – an Italian Barolo and a French Nuits Saint George. We concluded with coffee and digestif.

Some pictures of our dinner followed by my impressions.

What I liked about House 17:

  • I like the idea to have an evening in a members-only club once in a while. It is reserved and a bit posh. Atmosphere is uptown and welcome is great. It does not feel old-fashioned as other similar places in Luxembourg and I would definitely go there with my friends as well, not just for a business related event.
  • Wine and drink selection is great, really. There are several nice choices at different price level and cocktails are well prepared – I did not have one in this occasion, but several the one before 😛
  • The food, compared to last time I was here, improved significantly. It was a lovely dinner, presentation was cared in details and my dishes were delicious, classic but never boring. In the menu you have evergreen numbers and seasonal suggestions, including veggie choices. The bill does not come out extremely cheap, but definitely in line with the place and well worth it!

What I liked a bit less about House 17:

  • Our evening was perfect. Almost. While the service generally was on point – great at the bar, fine at the restaurant -, at the very end I was quite disappointed by the behavior of one of the waiter. As background, this guy did not take care of our table during the night, but apparently he realized I was speaking Italian while I went out for a call.
    So, the lady who was responsible for our table came at the end with the bill to check and I noted the tips – a gracious one – by pen on the receipt. As already agreed with the reception ahead the dinner, in fact, we would have needed to pay by invoice to be charged to our company. The lady took the bill and went back to the counter and, at this stage, this waiter stepped in, speaking directly with me in Italian – in front of my client – telling me that if I note down the tip by pen on the bill, they (the waiters) would not receive it and I should have given it by cash. I was quite embarrassed honestly, as something like that never happened to me in a similar place. Now I don’t know if the story is true – if the restaurant is not giving the waiters the tip that is not paid by cash – whatever: this is not my problem and should be sorted internally, not involving a client out on a business dinner.

Except for this small episode, our evening was great and I was really happy to subscribed my membership to the club so I would have more occasions to go. House 17 is a mondaine place, perfect for a drink or for a dinner – a romantic date, a business meeting. Don’t miss the occasion to visit it during the open events. Bonus point: the food is delicious!

New Confucius, Strassen, Luxembourg

Have you ever noted the strange relationship you have with the restaurants in your neighborhood? When I was living in Bonnevoie, I almost tried all the restaurant in my area. I had some favorites and to some I did not any any further chance after couple of strong delusions.

For the short time I was at the hedge between Belair and Strassen, it was quite different. As the area was not very lively, I have always tried to move “downtown” when I could. And there were couple of restaurants I passed in front each and every day but I tried probably just at the very end of my stay. One of these, for sure, was New Confucius, located on a corner of Route D’Arlon. I actually had dinner there several years ago, but it was those kind of dinner that you remind more for the quantity of alcohol you drank than for the food. The surprising thing, for me, was that, whatever day of the week, whatever time, New Confucius was always packed when I passed in front.

So, couple of days before moving, I told M. that would have been the case to have a dinner there before leaving the flat.

We got there on a week night without reservation and the main room was almost full and the side smaller rooms were fully booked.

I had a Chinese beer while M. had a coke to start with while we analyzed the menu. The offer is huge, from starters to meat to fish.. there is really too much!

Instead of going a la carte, we opted for one of the set menu, specifically the one for 33 Eur. We had both the Wan Tan soup (with Chinese ravioli), followed by a mix of starters, including steamed dim sum, nems and fried chicken. As main, I went for the Pekin roasted duck (that was the only reason because I wanted the menu for 33 Eur instead of the one for 23!) while M. had Shrimps with spicy sauce. We concluded both with Dame Blanche and Chinese Sake (this one not included in the menu).

Find the pictures of our dinner followed by my final impressions about New Confucius.


What I liked about New Confucius
:

  • The location is nice and in the main room you have lots of space between tables. If you are having a celebration, you can also reserve in the separated rooms. This will keep the noise away from the other diners and will ensure a very cozy atmosphere. A special mention for me goes to the restrooms upstairs: while generally the whole restaurants have a great attention to details and precious decoration, the restrooms are out of a Chinese Michelin star restaurant in a European capital, amazing!
  • The food was a bit a hit and a miss. The soup was good – but not amazing, a bit too salty for my taste. The starters, above all the fried one, were very cheap and with totally no flavor. The dim sum were fairly good, as well as the duck, that was served in two ways, and the shrimps M. ordered were tasty too.
  • The restaurant offers a huge choice if you have picky friends: from vegetarian, to fried dishes, to steamed one. And the set menus are a very good and affordable for a budget dinner out.

What I liked a bit less about New Confucius:

  • While service was generally polite (the one who seemed to be the owner was lovely!), it was very fast, too much. The menu has a lot of food included and the waiters were removing our dishes as soon as our chopsticks were down and already taking the following courses. At the dim sum we felt already stuffed and we were able to eat only few bites out of the main course – that we asked anyway to take away. You should give your clients the time to eat and drink in a relaxed way. I suppose there is a way in the middle between ignoring a table without drinks and asking if I want a refill as soon as I serve myself my last half of beer.
  • As said, set menu are pretty cheap (23 and 33 eur), but watch out about drinks and extra, the bill can easily add-up and becoming not cheap anymore – with two beers, some water and sake you got to slightly more than 100 Eur.

 

In conclusion: New Confucius is a nice Chinese restaurant in Belair/Strassen. It offers separate dining rooms for celebrations, set menu also for dinner for small price and food portions are generous. Not the best Chinese restaurant in town, but definitely a fair one if you look for big portions and small price.

New Year, Julio Cevicheria, Luxembourg

Well, let’s see how to start: first of all, happy new year! 2017 has been a great one for our blog – we have now a second editor, Jenni, who is helping me out with the events and interviews. We held our first blog party. We were part of the jury of Luxembourg Night Life Awards, we are writing for Easy-jet magazine and much more. Unfortunately, under the personal point of view, it was a pretty tough year for me and I realize the frequency of the posts were influenced by the ups and downs of my life. I hope 2018 will be a even better year for the blog but that we will be as well able to entertain you with more frequent updates!

So, before the end of the year, I moved in with bf and in my favorite area of the city – Place de Paris. You could have seen it coming 🙂 I happily realized there are more and more places opening in the neighborhood and the first one I tried was the brand new Julio Cevicheria. I was complaining with some friends already some months ago about the fact that an exotic and innovative cuisine that is the hype abroad did not yet have much space in the Luxembourg scenario. So, here we go, finally a new Peruvian restaurant in the city!

Since it opens, I have been to Julio Cevicheria three or four times, mainly for drinks, so I can tell you a bit more about my experience.

The place has a very low profile introduction on the street: just a steep staircase on the end part of Avenue de la Liberte toward the station. Downstairs, it is basically another story. A first main room with tall tables and armchairs separated by the bar on side and the dining room. Bright colors, naked tables, pictures on the walls. A separated VIP room – for private dining and parties – at the very end and, surprise, a lovely terrace on the back. The place is huge!

We actually went there just for a quick after-work but we decided then to eat as well something. We ordered Pisco Sour, the house cocktail, and I loved it (in fact I had four, LOL). We chose then Loaded potato with Beef, Nachos Peruanos, Fish and Octopus Chicharrones Tapa and Tapa Iberica (Ham & Cheese).

Everything was exceptionally good: I loved in particular the chicharrones with octopus, it was my favorite finger food of the night!

Some pictures of our informal dinner at Julio Cevicheria followed by my general impressions.


What I loved about Julio Cevicheria:

  • The place is amazing and it is already one of my new favorite. I adore the cocktails – last night I ordered as well a Mojito Passion Fruit and it is full of flavors! Pisco Sour is also perfect to combine with the finger food, that might be a bit greasy somehow.
  • The food is yummy: large choice, from finger food to salads, from vegetarian to fish, and several of the dishes have different size possible (for example for chicharrones you have tapas size, starter size and dish to share size). I particularly appreciate this formula as not always you might want to have a full dinner. As said before, the chicharrones with Octopus were my favorite bites so far, but I look forward to have also main courses that looked very tasty.
  • The service is great: Julio Cevicheria is just a place where you enter and you feel home and you are greeted, first or 10th visit, as you are one of the family. A plaudit to the great team, from the barman who are checking if you are fine with the taste of your drink during the night, to the lovely lady who is taking care of your dinner and introduced us to the Peruvian food.

What I liked a bit less about Julio Cevicheria:

  • I liked everything, without exceptions. If you want to be picky, the service is Mediterranean style, so at dinner time not the place if you are in a rush. Also, during the two times I have been there for dinner, some items on the menu were not available – but in fact it is because all ingredients are fresh and very requested items might get sold out over week-end.

To sum up: I have a new favorite place in town and it is Julio Cevicheria. It is the perfect location for a drink and some finger food or as well for a Peruvian dinner. The location is lovely and the service is one of the best I’ve ever had in town. It is strongly recommended for business outing, family celebrations and date nights.

 

Domaine Mathis Bastian, Remich, Luxembourg

Since arriving in Luxembourg, several years ago, I started to slowly improve my knowledge about wine – at least, I tried. I think that the main opportunity given by this country in the wine field is the coexistence of people of different nationalities who are bringing in their own culture including, thanks god, the wine.

As Italian, unfortunately, I had always this misconception about our supremacy and I have always considered other wine regions less attractive than mine. Honestly, recently, I had good demonstration this was not always the case.

Couple of weeks ago, in fact, we were invited for a private visit to the Domaine Mathis Bastian, located in Remich, on the Mosel valley. The village, if you don’t know – and it is pretty bad for you as it is a beautiful one -, it is less than 20 minutes driving from the city and offers several attractions, including boat cruises and a romantic path on the river.

To welcome M. and I at the Domaine we found Anouk Bastian, who lovely walked us though the vineyard before, inside the production line afterwards and at the wine tasting to conclude.

Discovering the Domaine Mathis Bastian was kind of surprising for us: it is a domaine with a history of 5 generations, which has an eradicated presence into the Luxembourg gastronomy, with their wines distributed among the most known upmarket restaurants in town. Luxembourgish wines are pretty celebrated among local people but for us expats are a bit a black hole.

Our arrival at the Domaine Mathis Bastian was breathtaking. The vineyard are uphill compared to downtown Remich and have a spectacular, fairy tale view, nothing to envy to some postcard landscapes from Champagne. The Domaine itself mixed old-fashion elements with artistic modern items: the idea of Anouk’s father, Mathis, who took personally care about the renewal work, was to keep the historical features of the main building, but mix it with linear, almost futurist elements of design. From the reception hall to the single tasting rooms, you can smell this great attention to details and this unconditional love for modern art items that appear here and there around the property. Most of these items have been designed specifically for the family and intend to give an idea of lights and comfort, you don’t find somewhere else.  The mixture between the old and the new, the arty and the lines, the dark wood and the wide windows creates a space deep, intense, enchanting. A place where you not only you come to satisfy your palate with the wine, but as well to entertain your soul.


Coming to the wines, we went through some of the most representative products of the Domaine Mathis Bastian. Their carte includes some very classic numbers, that are Luxemburger’s favorites, like the Cremant and the Riesling, and some fashionable, young and dynamic bottles, like Prelude Nanami, which name is an honour to the country, Japan, where the Auxerrois Mathis Bastian won the gold medal at Japan’s Sakura women wine award. Nanami in fact in Japanese means beautiful flowe or spirit of harmonies.

The wines we tasted and you can find below in the gallery had all the wow effect: I moved five hundreds miles away from my misconception about Luxembourgish wines. I found there intense notes, structured tastes, long lasting aromas.

My favorite number was definitely the Auxerrois 2015: while I have a strong inclination for “old” white, so I was not surprised to love the Riesling collection from 2005 and 2001, this wine enchanted my palate and I closed my eyes and pictured myself on a terrace, in the sunset, barefoot and happy. It is the perfect alternative to bubbles if you don’t like bubbles 🙂


Coming back to the Domaine, while their offer to the public is mainly concentrated on the wine – so they don’t offer in-house food service -, they are keen to organize private tasting events for limited groups to introduce you to the wines produced at the Domaine. Compared to other places I have visited, the characteristic that makes Mathis Bastian a must visit place is definitely the amazing conformation of the rooms. They offer not only a welcoming spaces for the tasting, but as well an incomparable view on the vineyard and a unique atmosphere. Said that, the tasting can be definitely combined with catering service and become real events, for families, companies or just friends.


The Domaine Mathis Bastian is open to the public from Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 12 and from 2 pm to 5.30 pm. Visits and tasting can be organized on appointment.

If you want to have a better chance to learn about the Domaine Mathis Bastian there are two occasions that cannot be missed:

– This week end the Domaine will held its Open Days, so it will be exceptionally open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday and you are welcome to pop in and try their delicious wines, from 2 pm to 6 pm. No invitation needed, nor entrance fee, so you just have to drive or catch a bus to Remich and show up!

– On November 16th, the Domaine will be present at the event Dubai meets Moselle at Cafesino, in Luxembourg City Centre, an exclusive event which will honor fine wines from Luxembourg, accompanied by oriental dishes. Few places left, hurry up to reserve yours!

Barefoot in Luxembourg will be at the Domaine on Saturday for the Open Days, so come and say hi. And if your week-end schedule is already full, don’t miss in the future the occasion to visit Domaine Mathis Bastian. You will fall in love with the elegant atmosphere surrounding the vineyard and will definitely be impressed by the charming taste of their wines, like we did!

 

 

Lumbini, Indian Restaurant, Hesperange

It seems ages I am not reviewing an Indian restaurant, right? Well: I was definitely missing it, so after couple of unsuccessful tries, I was finally able to convince a bunch of friends to have an Indian dinner. We chose Lumbini, in Hesperange, as it was quite some time I wanted to try it!

We got there a bit before 9 pm on a calm Monday night – they are open 7/7. Just a couple of tables were busy and the waiter accommodated us on a nice table on the window. The location is very cozy, overlooking the street but with the good level of “privacy” – you can see, but not be seen.

As my friends never had Indian food, it was up to me to introduce them to the menu and to suggest them dishes – and I was very keen doing that.

To start, after Papadam from the house, we shared a portion of meat samosa and one of chicken drumsticks. Both seemed to be much appreciated by the table and we continued then with: a portion of Chicken Vindaloo (guess who ordered it…), a portion of Lamb Dansak (with lentils and herbs, mild), a portion of Panchrangi Takari (vegetables in cashew nuts sauce) and two portion of Butter Naan bread. While in three we mainly shared these dishes, one of us, who does not like much sauces, ordered a portion of Chicken Tandoori.

We accompanied our dinner with two bottles of Sicilian red wine (you know, Italian men…) and concluded with espresso and two rounds of Paan digestifs (of which the second one was offered).

Total bill (2 starters, 4 mains, 2 bread, 2 bottles of wine, 3 bottles of water, 1 espresso and 4 digestif, plus 4 offered) read a bit more than 150 Eur, 38 eur per person.

Pictures of our dinner are followed by my general impressions on Lumbini.


What I liked about Lumbini
:

  • The food was nice and have the right amount of spices: mild dishes were tasty but soft, while my Vindaloo was hot, but in an appropriate way (enough for someone who is used to eat spicy as I am, but not impossible to eat). Portions were pretty big, above all the Naan was much more than expected and with three men at the table we were barely able to finish all (even if I did my best). In particular, my favorite dish was the Lamb Dansak: I usually tend not to order mild dishes, but this one was delicious and the lamb meat so tender!
  • The service was professional and polite. Even if we were a bit noisy at a certain point, the waiter was very accommodating toward our requests, open the wine at the table and make it try twice (not always happens in exotic restaurants), offered us a last round of drinks.
  • The bill came out very fair for what we ate and drunk. Even if we shared two starters in four people, we were almost not able to finish the food so portions were more than enough.

What I liked a bit less about Lumbini:

  • We did not have any negative remark about our visit. Everything went smoothly and we had great time, so would definitely consider to come back again. Couple of points just to mention to be picky as I usually am: the place is very nice, but, as most of the Indian restaurant in Luxembourg, is anything fancy or posh, so don’t expect Myfair style Indian restaurants. Then. While all our dishes were great, the only one I would not order again might be the veggie one – the nuts sauce had a very weird taste for me, almost burnt, but as it was the first time ordering it, maybe it was just a wrong choice.

 

In conclusion: Lumbini is a perfect choice if you are looking for an Indian restaurant not right in the city center. The service is extremely professional, food is enjoyable and the location is very cozy. Not to mention the fact the prices are a bit lower than the Luxembourg average. Definitely recommended for friends’ gatherings! Bonus point: it is open 7 days a week.

 

Introduction to Lebanese: Phenicia, Luxembourg

Among the guidelines for a Friday night partying, I have the rule of not having a proper dinner. It does not mean really skipping the eating part in favor of alcohol (I am too old for this shit!), but that definitely I cannot have a 4-courses meal before going out as otherwise I would rather fell asleep (age has its contribution also on this side).

So on a Friday night, Jenni and I decided to try Phenicia, a corner of Lebanon just off Place de Paris (here we are, once again!).

We decided not to book in advance as the place often looked empty from outside, but once inside we realized the tables on view on the main window are only a small part of those inside and the restaurant is pretty big – and it was pretty full!

The decorations are lovely – they create a nice, exotic atmosphere without being cheesy. We were welcomed at the entrance and accommodated to a table at the very back of the room, where most of the people were seating.

For that night, the restaurant offered a “all-you-can-eat” buffet or a la carte dinner. We opted for a la carte formula. I ordered an aperitif of the house (a mix between a sweet syrup and Lebanese cremant, pleasant and similar to our Kir Royal) while Jenni had only water.

While the menu offered various fixed price combinations and a great choice of main dishes, we decided to stay on the mezze (small dishes to share) in order, as said, to have a kind of light dinner.

We ordered Baba Ghanouj (grilled eggplants pure’, onions, tomato and pepper), Falafel(fried chickpeas nuggets), Jobneh (fried cheese) and Fatayer with Spinach (an oven-baked pastry stuffed with spinach and sumac). The mezze were accompanied by two portions of bread (and we ordered a third one later during the meal).

We drank half a bottle of enjoyable Lebanese Ksara.

We concluded with two digestif (one Baileys and one Cognac) and theoretically with a  Lebanese coffee that never came to our table.

After the pictures, you will find more about what I enjoyed of our dinner at Phenicia.

What I liked about Phenicia:

  • The restaurant has a great settings: the location, the decorations, the background music, everything contributes to create an amazing atmosphere, where, for the time of your meal, you forget about being simply in Luxembourg.
  • The food we had was amazing: I was particularly surprised by the falafel (I am a fan, I do them myself as well so I was impressed by their taste!) and by the spinach and sumac pastry (on the opposite, I am not a fan of this kind of pastry and this one was was indeed delicious). Everything tasted very fresh and home made.
  • The wine was also a positive discovery: we were a bit skeptical about trying a Lebanese wine, indeed it was good. Even if we ordered only half liter, it was taken with the full bottle at the table and opened there.
  • Service was a bit a hit-and-miss. For some aspects it was great. We were explained the dishes in details, we were suggested the aperitif and the wine and as well for the digestive we received some suggestions. Staff was really polite and accommodating toward our requests. At the same time, there were some moments we have been totally forgotten (like when I wanted to order some more bread *rolling eyes*) or our requests were ignored (coffee asked twice and never arrived) and bill took ages to get to our table.

What I liked a bit less about Phenicia:

  • Except the rolling coaster service, the only slightly negative point on my side was the bill. At the end we had only some vegetarian starters and half a bottle of wine and we ended up paying 90 Eur in total (45 Eur each). While the food was great and we had good time, I still feel we slightly overpaid for what we got. At the same time, the restaurant offers several fixed combination (starter plus main or tasting of starters) so you can keep you bill under control if you want to.

In conclusion: I liked our dinner at Phenicia. While the service might be improved, the ambience is great and the food was fresh and tasty. The place is perfect for a romantic date or an exotic business dinner, but not the restaurant to visit if you are on a budget. I will come back to try more dishes as those we had very definitely yummy!