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.

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Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People: Cecilie

A new week starts with a new interview for our Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People column. Today Jenni is introducing us Cecilie, a dynamic, smiling lady who is reminding us, among all, how important is to believe in your dreams.

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Good Morning and Welcome Cecilie! Can you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about who are you and what are you doing here?

Sure! My name is Cecilie Rigneus, I am originally from Norway, and I’m a nurse (former one!), a mom and a personal trainer. I arrived in Luxembourg 17 years ago with my husband, basically because of his job. At that time, my children were very small and the prospect of working was stressful balancing child care and long working hours. So I decided I was going to look another way and began to look at options of starting my own business. This would then give me a more flexible working schedule and allow me to work from anywhere at any time and around my family. Being able to share my business opportunity with people is something I am truly passionate about as I am able to change their lifestyle with reduced stress and added freedom. I also wanted to inspire people to pursue a healthier lifestyle in the long run.

My friends and family would describe me as a happy, positive and including person who love living life to the fully.

Can you tell Barefoot in Luxembourg readers a bit more about your business?

It was 8 years ago, whilst I was looking for a flexible business that I was introduced to this opportunity and I just knew it was for me. I call myself a “Lifestyle Optimizer”. My business is divided into two categories: clients and partners. With regards to my clients, I aim to inspire them to look and feel younger in the long term by encouraging them to make the best choices with health, fitness and wellbeing. Partners are typically people who want to get away from regular office jobs, want more flexibility in their working hours or have moved here and have a hard time finding a permanent job due to the language barriers, education or skills.

My motivation of helping people is to offer them a possibility to earn money with the option of working from any location and country with totally flexible working hours.

Why should people in Luxembourg be attracted to your business?

It’s a great way to make money on your own terms. As a business owner you set your own goals and get the necessary coaching and support to help make it happen. There are also no special requirements for success, just the right attitude! To get a better idea how to be more involved is to come to our next event, which is on Saturday the 3rd February at 11.00. To receive more information people can send an email to info@lifestyleoptimiser.com.

What are your future plans?

To continue living life the way I do! My business allows me to travel and to meet so many inspiring and interesting people.

My motto is that I don’t live to work but work to live.

Coming back to your Luxembourg background, you told us you have been living here for 17 years.

Yes, and in this 17 years I have seen a lot of change in Luxembourg and I love to be a part of that change. Luxembourg is such a diverse community with so many nationalities and cultures.

What is your favorite place in the city?

I like Come a la Maison because of its unique concept. It’s truly a lifestyle kind of place with stylish decoration, healthy choices, food and the best coffee.

What is your preferred night-life spot in Luxembourg?

I don’t have the same desire to hit the nightlife anymore. I tend to go out for drinks with friends and if I have to choose some places then I’d say Boos Café in Bridel or Mansfeld in Clausen.

What do you like about Luxembourg life?

I love the diversity. You can just be yourself and people will accept you for who you are. Luxembourg is also very family friendly and I’m happy to have my children growing up here. It is also very green and the healthcare system is excellent.

What do you miss here and what would you like to change or improve?

I would love to see more of the cheaper health stores. I have to say I have seen a big change when it comes to people getting more health conscious and availability in healthy options. There is definitely room for more. I love both fashion and home deco, but have to admit I don’t find much of my Scandinavian style here.

What is the best place you visited in a range of 200 km from the city and that you would suggest for a day trip?

Champagne region is my personal recommendation. I love the rustique French countryside, I love bubbles so I can’t really ask for more.

How would you describe Luxembourg with three adjectives?

Safe, international and open minded.

Thank you for being with us today Cecilie.

To discover more about Cecilie you can follow her Facebook page here.

 

Maison Steffen: where good food matters

Established in 1989 in Steinfort, Luxembourg, Maison Steffen is, without a doubt, one of the trendiest places to go grocery shopping when you are looking for a boucherie, a shop to get some good quality meat and cold cuts. Barefoot in Luxembourg was invited to the re-opening of Maison Steffen’s oldest boutique in Steinfort and it was a great occasion to discover more about this brand!

The boucherie itself was recently renovated and has now a completely different look. In my opinion, it’s very inviting as one of its walls facing the street is made entirely out of glass and lets a lot of light in. The interior of the butchery, is however, kept rustic, simple and harmonic; there are some sausages and cold cuts hanging and old butchery equipment is also present. When it comes to the selection of their products, you can choose from raw meats to ready to make meals and even catering options.

After visiting the shop, the night continued at another venue where we were taken by a shuttle bus. At this event hall, we were offered drinks followed by a short promo movie explaining the history and the current status of the shop. When the clip was finished, the food buffet was opened and we had a chance to sample many different dishes, that were made by using products available for purchase at the stores. Most of the dishes were very typical Luxembourgish dishes and small enough so I could try several of them – all delicious!


Overall, my experience at Maison Steffen was great and I was left with a very positive feeling about the shop; it is definitely worth visiting if you happen to find yourself in Steinfort. For those who live in Luxembourg city or other parts of this massive country, you have an option to check their other shops in Cents, Petange, Esch-sur-Alzette or Dudelange. Exact addresses and opening hours can be found on their website. Maison Steffen also owns a restaurant La Table de Frank, located in Steinfort.

Naturalia – A new Organic Grocery Store

For a long time, Luxembourg Gare area has been a very shady one but recently there have been a lot of improvements and new businesses have opened up. In the end of September, I attended at the opening of Naturalia at Luxembourg Gare. Originally from France, Naturalia is a  specialized in selling organic food items  such as vegetables and fruits but also cheese, wine, bread, rice and pasta. They also have a big selection of hygienic products, vitamins and food supplements.

Their new store is quite small but very bright and attractive. Presentation of fresh veggies and fruits at the entrance is lovely and the store even makes fresh “smoothies to go” in the morning. At the event, I had a possibility to try some of the different combinations they make and also some vegan raw cakes and other appetizers. I also liked the idea of them selling seeds, nuts and cereals from plastic containers from which you could choose the amount of each item you want to have  without additional waste or packaging.


The proximity to the train station certainly attracts many clients, especially because there are no other organic stores with a similar concept nearby and they have long opening hours. Even on Sundays. As ecological lifestyle is starting to be a growing trend in Luxembourg, I’m sure that once the possibilities for buying organic gets easier, people will also be more interested in green eating.

Naturalia Luxembourg
Address:
12-18 rue Joseph Junck

Opening Hours:
Monday-Thursday: 8.00-20.00
Friday: 8.00-21.00
Saturday: 8.00-19.00
Sunday: 9.00-19.00

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.

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.