Al Grappolo, Gare, Luxembourg

A new week has started and the weather is very depressing, isn’t it? Personally I am a fan of the cold season, which I prefer much more than the hot one, but rain… I can’t really handle it. After a week of much work and some social gatherings, last week-end I just stayed in and cook for my friends.

But.. I have still couple of reviews to post about “new” places I have visited during the previous week-end. Al Grappolo, in rue Adolphe Fisher, is one of these places. It is not new, as it has been open for some time now, but for some reasons, even if I wanted so much to try, I never had the occasion. I heard a lot of great stuff about it, so I was very curious and excited.

First of all, book in advance as the place is very small. We got there around 8 pm and the place is pretty cozy, the atmosphere is calm and warm. Candlelights, white table cloths, an old fashion record player. We ordered a Campari spritz to kick off the night and then the owner came to our table to introduce us the menu. Indeed, there is not a fixed menu, but it is changing every day with some limited choices.

We chose two portions of porchetta (roasted pork) with gorgonzola to start. To follow, I had veal with mushrooms, L. calamarata (a kind of pasta) with squids and E. pasta with “nonna” ragu.

We had a bottle of primitivo during the dinner – which took ages to be chosen, so praise to the patient of the staff who supported our decision – and we concluded with some digestives.

Total bill read 210 Eur – two starters, three mains, 3 apero, bottle of wine (which was around 50 Eur) – 70 Euro each.

Pictures of the dinner – starter pic is ugly, but I was so hungry I forgot to make it before eating – followed by my impressions about Al Grappolo.

 

Things I liked about Al Grappolo:

  • My expectations about food probably were generally too high, we had a pleasant, tasty dinner, but I think what makes the place special is the combination between the good food, the amazing atmosphere and the bubbling service. Walking into the door, you are catapulted in an Alice in Wonderland’s hole, where Luxembourg grey sky is thousand years far, surrounded by this welcoming feeling you might have when you eat at someone’s place.
  • Next to the food, the choice of wine is incredible, wide and interesting. Personally speaking, I would choose not to go to a place which has decent food, if I don’t like the wine offer. At Al Grappolo, wine would be one of the first reason to have dinner for me.
  • Considering what we ate (and drank), I have found the bill quite fair compared to similar place, above all for how pleasant was our night.

What I liked a bit less about Al Grappolo:

  • Let’s be honest: the fact they don’t have a fixed menu and the choice is very limited, is ensuring that the products are always fresh and seasonal. At the same time, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. The night we had dinner there was only one starter (pork), couple of meat pasta dishes, one fish pasta, one meat main course (the one I had) or grilled meat (for 2 people). I am very easy going in terms of food and I eat everything, so it was not an issue for me, but if you are with picky eaters, it might not be the right place.

 

In conclusion: Al Grappolo is a very cozy and warm Italian place located just off Place de Paris. It offers seasonal products and a very authentic cuisine, together with a great choice of wine. I would definitely recommend, especially for a night out with friends, when you want to be at restaurant all night and enjoy one glass more.

 

Sana, Organic Food & Restaurant, Luxembourg City

After one year almost stuck with the blog, it is finally the time again for one of my favorite moment: trying a new restaurant!

I got this occasion as soon as back from my Italian vacations and the place I wanted to try first was Sana, Organic Food & Restaurant, which opened at the beginning of August just few steps from Place D’Armes, where the historic Banana’s was located.

The concept of the place is quite innovative for Luxembourg city: at the ground floor, Sana has a “pizzeria al taglio” which is open from mid-morning until 7 pm. They have a wide selection of pizza which you can eat sur place or take away. Next to that, you can as well order some salad, small starters as arancini and dessert. Said like that it might look a quite “easy” place, but what makes Sana different is definitely the research of the products: the pizza itself is prepared with a special flour coming from Italy (Farina del Mulino Magri, operating since 1929), and every single ingredient is selected among the top to get to a result that is a “pizza gourmet” – forget about pizza with chicken, here you have authentic Italian pizza prepared with 100% bio tomato sauce from Apulia, mozzarella cheese from a family factory in Molise region, Parmesan aged at least 36 months and cold cuts coming 100% from Italy.

At the first floor, then, you will have the restaurant. The concept behind, again, is simple: the objective of Sana is to present dishes from the Italian tradition in a form of “bistrot” and to give priority to the quality of the ingredients utilized.

Behind the whole concept, there is Andrea Cavaliere, who used to be the chef at Kava, in Bertrange – at the time he was there it was one of my beloved places in Luxembourg – and previously with Roberto Fani, who owns 1 Michelin star. We have been advised that the restaurant has been just opened – less than 2 weeks – and therefore the menu is still “work in progress”. But we were tooo curious to try so we booked a table for last Saturday night.

We have been welcomed at the main door and left to choose if to dine inside (upstairs) or outside. The weather was still pleasant and the terrace is very well presented – with a funny “beachy” feeling just few steps from Place d’Armes. We decided anyway to have just a drink outside and to move then upstairs for the dinner. With a glass of champagne and one of rose, we were offered a sample of the pizza available: italian sausage and potatoes, grilled eggplants and chickpeas cream with mortadella (definitely my favorite). The effort in the research of amazing ingredients for me it is clear already from the pizza and what surprised me most was the lightness of the dought – not greasy at all.

We moved upstairs thought the white staircase at the entrance – watch out if you have heels 🙂 – and we were accommodated to a table on the window in the main room. Again, it is surprising how the place changed completely from when it was Banana’s (closed and dark): now Sana restaurant is full of light and decorated in the particulars. You feel like you are in a countryside cottage where the owner will offer you totally homemade products.

We decided to go classic, therefore we ordered a portion of carbonara to share and to follow the cotoletta, veal, prepared with the bone. To conclude the dinner, we shared a classic tiramisu.

 

 What I loved about Sana Restaurant:

  • What a refreshing new place! A place where the quality of the raw material is outstanding and there is an extreme effort in presenting traditional dishes. I am not a fan of carbonara, but the one of Sana was to die for. The cotoletta was also amazing: so tender you can cut it only with the fork and not greasy at all. Tiramisu is prepared with the classic recipe but without raw eggs and was exceptional. I was surprised by how such a “simple” dinner could have been so tasty. Even the salad which was accompanying the main, instead of the boring fries, was delicious. I cannot wait for Sana to extend its menu and to try new dishes. 

  • The place has its own very strong features and it is not parroting any existing place or trend, they have done a great job renewing it. As said, the interiors are very bright and cared into the details. You totally forget to be in the city center in Luxembourg and it is versatile to welcome a date night, a family gathering or an easy-going dinner with friend. The spent, then, considering the quality of the ingredients and how big the portions are, is very fair: we spent 65 Eur with wine for 3 courses, but you can limit it definitely with only one course, as portions are big. Again, you should consider where the ingredients are coming from: the cotoletta was 26 Eur, which is an extremely good price for a meat dish compared to other locations in the city center. The carbonara, on the other side, was 20 Eur. But then you have to consider that they use only bio egg yolks, cheek lard aged at least 36 months, authentic Pecorino Romano DOP and Sicilian Extra-Virgin Oil. Yes, you can definitely find a carbonara for less, but would it be the same? I don’t think so.

  • A lot of other items made our dinner unforgettable: the kind and relaxed service, with waiters able to give you real suggestions and information about the dishes and the products used, the chef going around the tables to check how things were going, the welcome with the pizza for the aperitif. On my side, I can tell you that my friend who accompanied me is the most picky person in terms of food ever – not a good match for me, that I am eating everything, I know LOL – and he told me that this has been the most delicious dinner we had together and he couldn’t find anything to complain about. Well done!

What I liked a bit less about Sana restaurant:

  • This has been a great night and, even if full, I didn’t have that feeling to have eaten “too much” as ingredients were so good and cooked properly that you don’t feel exhausted by the food. I don’t have negative remarks, just for you to note that the place has been open for 2 weeks now and the menu is still on progress, including the wine list, which at the moment is quite small, but for which Sana has already plans for extension. 

 

In conclusion: Sana is a brand new place in Luxembourg city centre. They have a delicious pizzeria al taglio on the ground floor and a bistrot style restaurant upstair. They propose an authentic Italian cuisine with outstanding ingredients. As Italian myself, Sana is definitely jumping on top on my Italian recommendations for Luxembourg city – and it is perfect for a date or for a night out with friend. Don’t miss their carbonara and watch out for new items on the menu to come.

 

Kava Restaurant, Bertrange, Luxembourg

Not sure about you, but when I have to decide where to go for dinner, I am often limiting the choice to my comfort zone, meaning the areas were I live rather than I often go out – city center, place de Paris. Visiting a restaurant out of these areas has basically to be justified by a specific situation. The situation in that case, last week, has been an extreme curiosity to find out a new place that has been on my to try list since its opening – but for which I have been too lazy to move my ass out of Hollerich -, Kava Restaurant, just in front of Bertrange station.

As I did, you can easily book your table online – that for me it is always a plus point – and you get a confirmation almost immediately. We got there around 9 pm and were asked if wanted to eat on the terrace or inside. Ca va sans dire, we opted for being outside. The terrace is only partially covered – and heated – but the time to be inside this winter is going to be long, so why do not still take advantage of the  pleasant temperatures?

After a while, we were provided by two menus: the list of cocktails – that includes a quite creative side for being in a restaurant – and the food menu – few starters, main with fish and meat having the common point of being mainly cooked in the wooden oven, some typical Italian dishes. Vegetarians will have at least two options per course.

We ordered a “Cocktail of the Chef” while deciding what to eat. We finally went for oysters as starter, accompanied by a glass of champagne, followed by rabbit and beef filet, both accompanied by truffle potatoes pure’ and a bottle of red one, a special one tonight.

Pictures of the dinner are followed, as usual, by my impression of Kava Restaurant.


What I loved about Kava Restaurant:

  • There is a combination of factors, to me, that makes this place exceptional. The list of drinks, to start with, innovative and quite edgy. Our “Cocktail of the Chef” has been definitely a surprise, considering I am very methodical in my alcohol choices, – extremely refreshing, well balanced and presented. Not very often you do see such nice cocktail list in a restaurant – I would say Kava is definitely almost at Airfield level on this item.
  • The food choice is on the classic side, but with a twist. There are options that I have rarely seen in other place in Luxembourg city – my rabbit has been one of them. I was tempted and worried at the same time when ordering that, as the only place I normally eat it is at my Granma’s, but I would say that the competition was high. The cooking was perfect, the meat tender and the seasoning structured and fair in its balance. Even for dishes that are easily replicated around, like the oysters, the beef filet and truffle potatoes, the quality of the raw materials was amazing and the execution, for the main, outstanding. While I was very full at the end of the dinner, I reserve myself to try the entire dessert list next time, that appeared to be delicious.
  • The atmosphere and the service have their great part in the success of the place. We felt spoiled from the moment we got in to the very end, having the chef himself coming with the truffle for our dishes, with an extreme hospitality and professionalism of the whole team who took care of us. The place itself is very cozy, with an attention to details almost maniacal: from the personalized wine glasses, to the bread basket, to the restrooms. The ambience indeed is refined, sophisticated, without being too posh, with a mixed client base – that was a family with kids seated next to us, couples young and less young, table of friends.

What I liked a bit less about Kava Restaurant:

  • Our dinner was among the best I had in the last year in Luxembourg and I would definitely rate Kava, for the whole experience, among my top restaurants in Luxembourg. It reminds me very much of a place that used to be my favorite in the city for ages and that recently has lost much of its charm, due to a very poor management – no name, no shame.
  • Said that, should I find something to be picky at, I would definitely say that the list of wine is not as good as the one of drinks, and I would have expected to have some more good choices, further than Moresco Langhe from Gaja and a Sassicaia – there is also another Ornellaia on the list, but only from 2016.
  • Lastly, and that, unfortunately, cannot be improved but only acknowledged, the view from the terrace is not very romantic, but I recognized they did their best to accommodate it in the nicer way possible for the location.

In conclusion: I had awesome time at Kava Restaurant. The place does not have any gastonomique expectations, still proposes a very different kind of cuisine, with Italian origins and mainly based on the wooden oven. The food was delicious and the service exceeded our expectations. Cocktail list out of the ordinary is a plus. I would definitely recommend it for a date night, a business dinner or a meet-up with friends. The restaurant is a sophisticated oasis of peace, where all the details are adding up together in a welcoming, unique atmosphere.