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 – even if I would! – during 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 – well, 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 – while 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 – what 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 😛

 

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Ukelele, Clausen, Luxembourg

If you are following my blog, you have probably already realized my “restaurants to try” approach. I have a “to do” list with new openings and restaurants I have never been, but it often happens that if I don’t visit a restaurant immediately after the opening, I loose a bit of interest, as I have the impression my readers will not be extremely reactive, considering there might have been written already enough on the subject.

It was the case of Ukelele, this Thai corner located in Clausen, just off the Rives. I wanted to try it so much as soon as it opened, I lost the moment, for one reason or the other, and then everybody was so much talking about it that it went at the bottom of my “next restaurant”. What could I added if a general public idea is already wide-spread?

I love Thai food indeed and I tend to stick to ordering delivery from Bangkok Thai at the station – the place is a bit dodgy (sorry!), but the food is authentic and well priced, compared to other Thai restaurants I have tried in the city (not the time to mention now, but you can easily find in my reviews).

So – I have almost forgot about Ukelele, when my boyfriend decided to surprise me with a reservation that read “I passed there in front, I liked it and I pop in for reserving”. I could not say no: first of all, because generally speaking I am the one in charge of restaurant reservation in our family and therefore it came pretty much as a shock (no offense intended, just the fair truth 🙂 ). Second, because normally M. is very picky concerning food – and as much as he can eat his Delirio Culinario pizza with gorgonzola and salami at least three times per week, he is totally unmotivated regarding exotic cuisine. So – I told myself, why not.

I got to Ukelele a bit earlier than him and the place was half-busy. I gave my name at the counter and I was indicated two tables on the main street side. There were actually three tables available in total – one in the corner with two chairs and two on a bench. I wanted to be on a chair but I was told to choose between the other two.

I ordered a Thai Tonic while I waited for M. to arrive and I was given the menu. He got there from work with his usual delay and, little by little, the restaurant got really packed.

He also had a Gin to start with and we ordered. We went for a mixed starter to share, I follow with a basil beef, while he had red curry chicken. We concluded with espresso and cognac.

After the pictures of our dinner, you will find my thoughts about Ukelele – and yes, I know lots have been written already, so these are just my two cents.

What I liked about Ukelele:

  • The place is very nice and I loved the decorations – specifically the reversed umbrellas on the ceiling. The atmosphere is warm, welcoming and casual, as well as the service. If you are not familiar with Thai cuisine, the staff is very glad to help you doing an informed choice, advising on hotness level, sauces and so on.
  • I liked the food: the basil beef was definitely MY dish and would order it again straight away. Perfect level of hotness and delicious, authentic flavors. The starter platters was as well tasty. The spring rolls were so good I wanted to have other ten probably, while I liked the fish cake a bit less, but it was a kind of starter I would have not ordered in a single portion. Go for the rolls, definitely 🙂
  • While you could not expect to pay the same price you would in Thailand – in Bangkok, I probably had the same dinner for the equivalent of 17 euros and my Thai colleagues were complaining about the fact it was a rather expensive place – Ukelele is fairly priced, with main around 15 euros. We had basically everything (Gin Tonic to start, a shared platter of starters, two main, a good bottle of wine, coffee and cognac) and we spent a bit more than 100 Eur.

What I liked a bit less about Ukelele:

  • We had a lovely dinner and I would definitely consider to visit the restaurant again – even if over week-end it is often fully booked, so having to reserve well in advance might be, for me, a restrain factor. There are just few points I would note, as you know I am picky: the place is small and very cozy as said, but if you end up in a night where the are big groups, like the night we visited, it becomes a bit noisy. Second, on the same side, you are basically dining with the table next to you. That might be positive if you are in the mood for talking, not really if you want to have a reserved conversation and the table next to you speak your same language. Lastly, the bench where I was seated was very uncomfortable as it is at a different level to the table compared to chairs, at least if you are tallish like I am. Ask for a table with chairs 🙂 Silly points, as usual, indeed, and nothing that would stop me to consider it as my first choice for Thai dining in.

 

To sum up: Ukelele is a lovely Thai restaurant in Clausen. The location is very unique and warm and the atmosphere is casual, with a friendly service. Food is on point and prices are fair. My recommended dish would definitely be the basil beef, if you like spicy food. Perfect for a night out with friends. Reservation needed – in advance for the week-end.

Alterego Restaurant, Luxembourg City

Can creative cuisine be as well affordable? I had the truly impression recently that the most sophisticated one restaurant gets, the more expensive the final bill is going to be. Sometimes it is perfectly justifiable as well as appreciated. I tend to save at least couple of dinners per year for outstanding places – mostly Michelin stars – and even if when the check is close to the 4 digits, I have never had real regrets, as they definitely deserved. But, from my experience, there are more and more restaurants which tends to offer a slightly gastronomic proposal and to have Michelin-starred prices – I can definitely find couple of examples in Luxembourg. I am not perfectly comfortable with this market approach and I am recently looking forward as well to find some good food at fair prices – who is not?

So couple of weeks ago, I was pretty keen to try a new Italian restaurant that opens its door less than one month before. The place is called Alterego and it is located in route d’Esch, next to the BIL headquarter.

If you are about to close this review before going ahead as you are fed up of “Italian places” in Luxembourg, I would suggest you not too, as this is definitely a different one!

So, I spontaneously met with Jenni at our own headquarter (aka Paname) and we decided to try something new, at least for eating. We called Alterego to reserve and arrived there around 8ish on a Thursday night.

The restaurant is very cozy – tiny, but lovely arranged in a way not to make you feel suffocated. Thing I like is that while from outside the place is quite anonymous – looks like a neighborhood brasserie – inside you have a warm and welcoming unique feeling.

We started with an aperitif – a great Negroni – and we then ordered a selection of starters to taste, one primi piatti to share (black tagliatelle with cuttlefish) and one main to share (crispy codfish), followed by a homemade tiramisu and its relevant cocktail.

Find the pictures of our dinner followed by my comments.


What I liked about Alterego:

  • The food was OMG: when I decided to try this restaurant, I had good expectations about a fair, well executed traditional Italian cuisine. Gosh, I was wrong! Dishes are sophisticated, exceptionally presented, food combinations unusual and traditional plats revisited. Among the starters, my favorite one was definitely the “Knodel”, these sausage and potatoes balls in a light broth with smoked ricotta. The best dishes of the night, to me, the black tagliatelle – a perfect combination between the imperfections of homemade pasta and the rounded, deep taste of the ingredients. Finally, the dessert: I don’t have sweet tooth, you know, but this deconstructed tiramisu, accompanied by a tiramigiu cocktail, enchanted me. It was too good looking to eat and too tasty to finish the meal without. As the menu is changing every month and it is based on a regional cuisine – this month it was Friuli Venezia Giulia, from February 19th another (surprise!) region – I really look forward to come back again and try new proposals from the house.
  • The service was great: we were a bit bitchy, honestly, but they maintained their aplomb. In particular, after we ordered the selection of starters, we realized that Jenni does not eat meat and we asked to not have meat dishes. Only the first couple of appetizers came with meat and after that the order was adjusted, even in progress. Then, for the following two dishes, we requested to have them to share and instead of bringing a portion in the middle, they already split the dish in two, both for the primi piatti and for the main course. Smile, great attitude and explanations as well as in English made the rest.
  • The bill came out incredible fair: we had a huge dinner (several starters to share, two main to share, dessert, a bottle of wine, coffee) and the final check read 104 Eur in total. We had aperitif and digestif offered by the house.

What I liked a bit less about Alterego:

  • Our dinner was great and I would honestly strongly recommend the place with no exceptions. The night we have been there was really quiet, but honestly I don’t mind being in a calm place once in a while!

In conclusion: We loved Alterego. It is a very special Italian restaurant, definitely different from those you might have tried so far. The cuisine is regional based and the menu changes frequently. Dishes are sophisticated and well presented. The restaurant is perfect for a romantic date, a rendez-vous with friends or a night “you just don’t want to cook”. Above all, prices are extremely fair. Recommended!

La P’tit Maison, Rollingergrund, Luxembourg

This is probably the first time since the blog has started that we are reviewing twice the same place without a change in the management nor in the chef brigade. But La P’tit Maison definitely needed an exception after our first review more than one year ago.

We actually ended up there quite randomly: at the very last night of a week of business meetings, after having already explored my favorite spots and with a limited choice due to vacations time, we decided to give La P’tit Maison a second chance. The first visit was not bad as a whole, but I was definitely not 100% convinced by the place.

We called for reservation at 5.30 pm and informed we had a guest who is allergic to gluten. We were replied nicely that it was not an issue.

We arrived there around 7.30 pm – the area is quite busy but the restaurant has a valet service for parking at the door – and accommodated on the terrace. The location is indeed lovely, both the terrace and the indoor rooms are perfectly decorated in style and you can feel like in a peaceful bubble, a corner of Marais in Luxembourg.

We ordered a glass of champagne as aperitif and we were offered black olives and summer truffle oil, together with their lovely homemade bread.

We were given our time to look at the menu – that is not really extensive but proposes several interesting choice, both on the meat and fish side.

I went for the pig foot stuffed with foie gras and truffle as starter and for the monkfish with ham and mushrooms. The other guests had the breaded egg with mushrooms and the mixed fish grillade as main.

We had a young Pouilly-Fuissé to accompany our dinner.

To conclude I had a platter of cheese, while my colleagues went for a Vacherin to share. Homemade madeleine were offered together with the coffee.

Some pictures – mainly of my dishes, as unfortunately being a business occasion I could not go around snapping others’ dishes 😛 – and then what was my idea of the dinner.

What I liked about La P’tit Maison:

  • I loved the food: both my dishes were tasty and delicious. It was very difficult to choose from the menu as all the options looked amazing. I particularly liked the fact kind of traditional choices (as beef filet or grilled fish) are combined with some more sophisticated alternatives (veal head or pig foot). As per last time, my dish taste was pretty strong and on the “salty” side, but this time I appreciated it more – better for dinner than for lunch, definitely.
  • I loved the atmosphere: the terrace is out from the pages of a fairy tale and the interior design is also accurate and warm. It is definitely the perfect place for a business dinner like ours or, as well, for a very romantic date.
  • I enjoyed the service: it was friendly but still formal, in particular the guy who helped us choosing the wine and explained the dishes was very professional. I appreciated the fact the chef came to our table at the end of the dinner to cheer us. I was also surprised by how flexible they were to accommodate our gluten-free guest. They basically told her she could have chosen whatever dish out of the menu and they would have done it gluten free for her. Only thing not available was the gluten-free bread – for that, you have to book in advance and specify it.

What I liked a bit less about La P’tit Maison:

We had the perfect moment and I was really happy to have given La P’tit Maison another try, as I loved dining there this time and I really looking forward to come back. Our visit did not have very big downsides, if only I have to find couple of points:

  • the young waiter was a bit clumsy, unbalanced while taking dishes at the table, had undone tie bow when we got there (adjusted it only afterwards) and was messing up our main courses. It was still fine, but if you are taking clients out maybe this is not the level of service you expect.
  • while the restaurant room is lovely, the restroom area was a bit overlooked. Nothing too bad, still you might expect something different from a place like that.
  • lastly, let’s face it, this is still a rather expensive place – but definitely the spent is worth for a special occasion.

 

In conclusion: my second time at La P’tit Maison was the perfect one. I loved the food, with its intense taste and rather unconventional choices mixed with classic dishes. This is a very recommended places to take your clients out or to impress your other half. Enjoy the cozy terrace until you can. Bonus point: the homemade bread is to die for.

 

 

 

 

 

Awada Japanese Restaurant, Clausen, Luxembourg

On Tuesday night I decided, together with Sunny, to tick off another restaurant out of the list of “new one” to try in the City and, in a certain Asian mood, we headed to Awada, a new Japanese traditional restaurant that opened recently in Clausen area – or at least, I spotted it just recently 🙂

The location is really nice, just off Rives de Clausen, and the interior design is cute: a small entrance floor with a typical counter and a (bit cheesy) fountain plus some tables. On the upstairs floor a bigger and calmer room, where we were accommodated. It was Tuesday evening and we got there at 7.30 pm, so it was not definitely crowded – even if we reserved just to be sure.

I got there a bit earlier, so I started to study the menu card and ordered a Japanese green tea. Together I was offered some (commercial) shrimps chips.

Once Sunny arrived, we were ready for our order: I had a Soup in a Tea Pot as starter (Dobin Mushi) while she had Veggie Gyoza. To continue I had Japanese Beef Curry while she went for Bibimbap, a Korean rice dish with veggie.

I concluded with a hot sake. Total bill for 2 persons read 69 Eur, including two bottles of water.

Enjoy the lovely shots from Sunny of our dinner and find my impressions about the restaurant after.


What I loved about Awada:

  • For me Awada was a super pleasant discovery and I honestly look forward to come back again. While the menu includes also a pretty wide selection of sushi, that I might try during next visits, the most interesting part for me is the traditional Japanese menu. Most of the “Japanese” restaurants in Luxembourg offers together with sushi only a selection of Chinese / Asian / Fusion dishes while I was really missing the real Japanese style food you have in Asia – one of the only nice thing I had memories of in Singapore – that to date I have found only at Kamakura – for a different price.
  • Indeed the price for the dinner was very fair as well as the one for the drinks (3,8 Euro for a big pot of lovely green tea I drank from the start to the end of the dinner, 8 Eur for the small hot sake that was around 6 shots, 18 Eur for the Japanese curry main dish with beef).
  • Bonus point: the service was one of the best I have ever had in Luxembourg (for real). The waiters were speaking perfectly English and French, they were checking on us from time to time to see if we were missing anything or if everything was going well, we had hot tissues at the end of the dinner and I really felt pampered. Well done, we need more places with such great service!

What I liked a bit less about Awada:

  • Honestly, for me the dinner was just great. I cannot find anything bad, not in the place neither in the food. If you want to be picky, hopefully the “coming soon” items on the menu will be available at my next visit and what about having edamame instead of those nice but cheap shrimps chips as welcome?

In conclusion: I loved Awada: the location is cozy, the service is amazing and the traditional Japanese food was a refreshing surprise. I look forward to come back and try other items on the menu, including sushi. Perfect for whatever occasion, from a romantic date to a girls’ night out.

 

 

Restaurant Atlantico, Howald, Luxembourg

I come from a beach village where, during summer, the usual festive dinner consist in those huge seafood grilled platters – these, together first with my family, are one of the things I miss most living abroad.
I tried several seafood restaurants in and out of Luxembourg but unfortunately the sophisticated (even if yummy) French approach when it comes to fish is pretty different from the one you can find in my hometown. Indeed, one of the only places where I find a very similar attitude, is Atlantico, a tiny, cozy Portuguese restaurant specialized in seafood, located at the edge of Bonnevoie, in Howald district.

After a business event, I decided to take there my partner in crime M., who is equally a seafood lover. We called a bit in advance to ensure there was place for us – the restaurant is quite small – and we arrived there around 9 pm. All the tables were occupied except ours and a pleasant smell was pervading the room.

We had a mix of fried seafood – anticipated by a small appetizer olives platter “pour la maison” – and continued with the mixed seafood grillade for two persons, including lobster, shrimps, octopus, salmon and much more and accompanied by chips and rice.

We had a Portuguese dry white wine – as “Esporao Reserva”, my favorite one, was not available, the waiter chose for us and the choice was perfect – and concluded – what’s new? – with Portuguese grappa and espresso.

Enjoy the pictures and find my comments about the restaurants after the break.


What I liked about Restaurant Atlantico
:

  • The food is delicious: if you are not into formalities and like the grillade style sea food this is the perfect place for you. The dish is huge, the fish is tasty. There are other options available on the menu, including simple gambas, codfish, as well as some meat dishes.
  • The price is incredible fair for the quality and the quantity of what you eat, as well as compared to similar places.
  • The atmosphere is informal and lively.

What I liked a bit less about Restaurant Atlantico:

  • There was unfortunately just one waiter for all the tables and it ended up in a service very fast and approximate. He did not have the time to stop by for our requests, wait was a bit long and sometimes we had to call him couple of time before being served. Not his fault, obviously.
  • Compared to similar places I have been, while the quality and the quantity of the seafood is better, in the grilled platter the side dishes are not exceptional – rice is plain white and chips were a bit soaked. No complementary sauces.
  • As you can clearly see from the pictures, it is not a posh place: presentation is quite hurried, location is old fashion and also the customers are generally pretty noisy. Still for me a lovely place to visit.

 

In conclusion: Restaurant Atlantico is included in my top choices in Luxembourg for seafood. While the location is not fancy and the service a bit superficial, the quality / price for grilled platters is fabulous and I would recommend it for seafood lovers in couple and among friends.

 

A gastronomique adventure: Ma Langue Sourit, Moutfort, Luxembourg

Couple of weeks ago, my partner in crime Kochi invited me out for dinner to try Ma Langue Sourit, the one-star Michelin restaurant located in Moutfort, just 15 minutes driving from the city centre.

I have been there ages ago, at the beginning of my adventure in Luxembourg, and I had lovely memories. Unfortunately we always end up choosing places around the city recently when dining out, so I did not have the occasion to visit it again. With my mood not among the stars and a lot of thoughts going in my mind, it was indeed great leaving the city for one night and I should do it more often.

We got there around 8ish, during a pleasant evening, and we were accommodated on the outdoor terrace. Only another couple was seated already – it was during the France – Germany match for European Cup, and probably most of the people in Luxembourg were in front of a screen.

The terrace ambience is lovely. Woods all around, very cared settings, you forget for a short while where you are. We started with a pink champagne aperitif that was accompanied by a delicious platter of small appetizers. The fried quail egg enrolled in wasabi powder was definitely my favourite, but all the others were pretty tasty as well.

We moved in, in the cosy dining room, where we went for the 6 courses tasting menu with wine pairing. We only asked to change the dessert with the cheese – as both me and Kochi are not very much for sweets stuff (you seen us, right? 😛 )

The menu was all amazing: foie gras as amuse bouche, marinated sea bass, lobster and potatoes, white fish with coco sauce, lemon and herbs sorbet, duck, poached egg as pre-dessert (as we went for an all salted menu), cheese trolley. With the coffee with had an ice cream with strawberry and meringue and some mignardises.

On the wine side, we had 4 glasses of white wine and two glasses of red. The nice part of the story was that the sommelier was leaving us guessing the wine before coming back with detailed indications – we did not bad, thanks to Kochi’s professional skills. I did my dirty job guessing right the one from Bourgogne – playing at home.

Enjoy the pictures of the dinner followed by my general impressions about Ma Langue Sourit and our time there.

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Things I loved about Ma Langue Sourit:

The ambience: you don’t have to travel 250 km to find a relaxed and quiet environment, cared in details and never boring. Enjoy the terrace for the aperitif and coffee, admire the bold coloured paintings on the walls, sit down and leave behind all the issues.
The service: if your idea about a Michelin-star restaurant it is still about old fashioned penguins, silver trolleys and white gloves, forget about it. Ma Langue Sourit is the perfect example of how the service in a high-end restaurant could be kinda informal but still polite and rigorous. Dishes are explained in details, questions replied with no hesitation, but still you can have your laugh with the sommelier or the waiter. We were the last one to remain in the house, still enjoying our ciggy after coffee on the terrace and we never felt the pressure to leave.
The Food: ca va sans dire. Ma Langue Sourit could teach some chefs that, to be gastronomique and contemporary, you don’t have to cook gold foil or have your dish served in a space shuttle. Very traditional ingredients here are presented in a sophisticated yet innovative way, surprising your palate with unexpected combinations and warm aromas. My favourite numbers were definitely the marinated sea bass, the herbs sorbet and the poached egg

Things I liked a bit less about Ma Langue Sourit:

– It is very difficult for me to find something I didn’t like, as I enjoyed very much this special night. If only I have to find an element to improve, I would say that, when going for the tasting menu, portions should be much limited. I enjoyed the food and I was feeling quite fine at the very end, but eating the last dishes I was feeling doing it only because I needed to, while my stomach was begging for mercy.

In conclusion: Ma Langue Sourit is a paradise for food lovers. You get here an inventive and captivating refined French cuisine, the perfect service and a lovely environment just few minutes from the city centre. Perfect for special celebrations and romantic tete-a-tete.

 

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