Mani D’Oro, Gasperich, Luxembourg

We kicked off the week with a place which used to be (and I discovered it is still!) my favorite and we will continue today with a review of a brand new restaurant!

Mani D’Oro (translated: Golden Hands, an idiomatic expression used in Italian to define someone who is gifted in doing manual works) has been opened for less than one month on route d’Esch, just before getting to Cloche D’Or.

Their core is the preparation of fresh pasta: you can eat sur place or take it away, together with pizza, sandwiches and salads. As Mani D’Oro is open from Monday to Saturday, from 11 to 8 pm (Saturday till 3 pm), we decided to visit it for Saturday lunch, which, since I am getting old and I am not partying anymore all night long, has became a very pleasant ritual.

As said, Mani d’Oro is located on the main street and has a lovely terrace on the front side – I am already looking forward to summer apero, I know!
The décor and the atmosphere are sophisticated and refreshing: a big counter as soon as you get in, where you can order or pick up your take away, tall tables on one side and table booths on the others, with a line of chairs in front of the windows with the view on the outside – very much street food feeling. On the back of the booths, the kitchen and laboratory, with bright windows on the main room – so you can see all the preparations.

The menu has a choice of pasta to match: you choose your format and you choose the sauce (including several vegan and vegetarian options), plus pizza in three sizes, sandwiches and salads. Some daily suggestions are also available.

I ordered a pizza La Piccante (ventricina sausage and nduja sauce) in the smallest format while E. went for one of the daily suggestions (home made ravioli with porcini mushrooms and truffle).
We concluded with a tiramisu to share and we were offered two shots of limoncello.

Total bills reads 49 Euro, 24,5 Eur each (for 3 beers, 1 bottle of water, 1 portion of pizza, 1 portion of truffle pasta, 1 tiramisu, as said limoncello was offered).

Pictures of our lunch are followed, as usual, by my impressions about Mani d’Oro.

What I loved about Mani d’Oro:

  • I definitely loved the concept of the restaurant and the decorations: honestly lunch places I have tried so far are going in-between extremely cheap eatery and posh restaurants offering pricey lunch options. Mani d’Oro offers you a very affordable Italian experience in a captivating atmosphere. Also – the restaurant has a great selections of cocktails, Gin and other drinks, so it is not your usual lunchtime place.
  • I loved the pizza and I cannot wait to come back to try more of that: crunchy, not greasy at all, light in the dough and with first quality ingredients. The small portion (12 Euro for the topping I have chosen) was definitely more than enough for just one person and I have found myself imagining there sharing a large size with several friends and a Campari (or Aperol Spritz, depending what you like). E. also said his pasta was delicious, even if slightly smaller in size: the pasta with truffle is the most expensive one (20 Eur – and it is very reasonable as they came to shave the truffle at the table), but other pasta dishes are around 12 Eur, like salads, 6.5 Eur for sandwiches). Again, ingredients are top quality and you can definitely taste it.
  • Service was friendly, with detailed explanations and very present despite the place was very busy during Saturday lunch (better to book during peak hours). I also appreciate very much the take-away and delivery option. I am a fan of pizza al taglio (don’t blame me, I like it more than your typical round pizza) so I would definitely prefer ordering it at home to share with friends.

What I liked a bit less about Mani d’Oro:

  • At the moment, as the place is open until 8 pm during the week, it is perfect for lunch or late lunch, after-work or a very early dinner. If you fancy their dishes after 8 pm, you will need definitely to wait for next day.
In conclusion: I loved Mani d’Oro and as it is not far from where I live, it is going to be my place to go for Saturday lunch and after-work with friends. Their pizza is delicious and they offer a great selection of pasta, sandwiches and salads – together with drinks, also alcoholic – for a very fair price in a charming location. 

Piadi – Italian Food House, Bonnevoie, Luxembourg

Last week I went back to basics and came back after long time to have dinner in Bonnevoie. If you missed the previous episodes, I have lived in Bonnevoie for about 10 years and probably my first posts on the blog were very centred on that area, a bit like now they are focused around Place de Paris 🙂

Piadi – Italian Food House is another one of those places which have been on my list for long time, so a quiet night of the week while I was not feeling cooking seemed the perfect night to try it.

We got there at 7 pm (yes, I know.. “eating with the chicks” as we say in Italian) and got to choose our table as the restaurant was basically still empty. The location is very nice: just few steps from the central station, with bright windows on the first roundabout in Bonnevoie. Not fancy, but definitely colorful, those kind of places were you feel like smiling as soon as you got in.

We were informed there was a special tasting night (“Pasta lovers”) and, if we wanted, we could have had three small portions of pasta for 19 Euro.
We decided to eat a la carte a as you know I am not very past oriented.

We started with a Negroni and a glass of white, together with a platter of cheese and cold cut, accompanied by piadina and gnocco fritto – a typical specialty from Emilia Romagna. We were not sure about portions, so we hold on the main order, but, after the starter, we were definitely still hungry: I went for a dish of passatelli with pesto and clams (another pasta specialty from Emilia Romagna) and E. for a piadina with Italian sausage, onions and bell peppers.

We spent 84 Euro for: 2 glasses of wine, 1 Negroni, 1 bottle of water, 1 starter to share, 1 piadina, 1 passatelli, 1 espresso, 2 digestif. 42 Euro each.

Pictures of the dinner followed by my general impressions of Piadi – Italian Food House.

What I liked about Piadi – Italian Food House:

  • As anticipated, I liked the place and the general feeling the place is giving you. It is very relaxed and friendly and the nice service is definitely completing this feeling. It is a place you can go straight from work for a quick drink accompanied by Italian antipasti, you can have an informal date or you can meet up with your friends. Probably the colors of the place are making me thinking you cannot be sad among those walls and you will definitely link that dinner to happy circumstances.

  • Food was good: we were given more piadina and gnocco fritto with the starter once we finished them, the squaquerone cheese which is included in the antipasti platter was my personal highlight and I liked very very much the passatelli – more than the piadina honestly. The menu is pretty various as well: a nice choice a la carte as well as suggestions of the day which are going from starters to main – they had rabbit that day that I love, but I was not feeling very much for that, next time. It is definitely a place where you can have dinner (or lunch) with pasta lovers, vegetarian or picky eaters.

  • As said, service was very kind and my bonus point goes definitely to the Negroni I had. Most of bars and restaurants are recently serving Negroni -which is my favorite Italian cocktail – and even if I have found really good versions around – and some interesting relook -, the one I had at Piadi’ was the one to me which tasted closer to the one I have in Italy.

What I liked a bit less about Piadi – Italian Food House:

  • Once again, another place where I cannot find something to dislike, we had a very happy evening and I would probably come back. There was only one small “discomfort” regarding to the price of some items, if we want to call it like that. The shared platter has two size (a small and a bigger one) and we ordered the big (21 Eur). We were feeling to have only that but as said we were still hungry after – I feel that compared to other places I had the mixed starter, the portion size is slightly misaligned with the price, but it is not a big issue, you just have to know you can/need to eat something else after. Same for the “digestifs”, rarely seen a shot glass priced 5 Eur, so I will probably not order it next time.

To know: together with the a la carte dinner, Piadi is also organizing various interesting tasting nights, all oriented around typical products you rarely get to eat somewhere else (like “Tigella night”) and Sunday brunches. To be informed about these events, follow them on their Facebook page.

In conclusion: Piadi – Italian Food House is an informal Italian place, focused on authentic Italian products from Emilia Romagna, located in the heart of Bonnevoie. You need definitely to try gnocco fritto but next to that you can have other very tasty dishes – and delicious cocktails. It is the perfect place for a night out with friends or an easy going date.

Urban City Luxembourg, a lunch in town

I usually tend to avoid writing a blog post about places which are very much known, but this time I really feel that Urban City needs a mention, as it started to fulfill recently a need it emerged I have after the lockdown. A place to have a nice, fairly priced and easy going lunch in town, but with a cool atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong: Luxembourg city center is definitely full of pleasant places for having lunch, but was missing for me a category in the middle, in-between a fancy, rather expensive lunch (Giallo, Um Plateau, to name few) as opposite at a daily lunch at the office (like at La Table du Pain).

I decided to write this review after being there couple of times, on Fridays I had off work – hence the beers 🙂

First time I had the falafel wrap – next to a classic burger for my companion of the day. Second time I had zucchini fries and avocado toast with poached eggs – while I well sold to my friend the falafel wrap I had the first time. To be honest there was a third time where I had a club sandwich, but I was too hungry to take a picture, so please use your imagination.

Here’s are the pictures of the lunch I had at Urban City, followed by my general impressions about the places and the food.

 

What I loved about having lunch at Urban City:

  • Food is to die for. The falafel wrap is to me probably the best dish they had on the menu, but having tried the burger, the sandwich and the toast, I can say that honestly everything I tried is really good, well seasoned, not greasy at all. Sauces and fries are also worth a mention.
  • Service is smiling and present – oh, what a pleasant surprise for such a crowded place! You never feel forgotten, dishes are coming quite fast and waiters/waitresses have even the time to share jokes with you – happened the last time, when we took huge time to decide what to order as I could already acknowledge everything is so good there.
  • I don’t have much to tell you more about the ambience compared to what you probably know already, but Urban City is definitely a cool place where you can go straight from the office, in your sweatpants after a walk around the city (or off your bed) or already dressed up for the night. What I want to add is that, even if so central, the price for the lunch is very fair: every time we spent around 50 Euro in two people (so 25 Eur each), including beers and coffee, euro more, euro less depending on the dishes. Probably it is not the place to have lunch every day, but it definitely well compares to other similar places.
    And don’t forget, kitchen is open non-stop, so you can enjoy your “lunch” at whatever time in the afternoon.

What I liked a bit less about having lunch at Urban City:

  • Not much honestly. Probably I recognize the fact that once it will be winter, having lunch inside will be less cool (for my taste) than being on the terrace, but still pretty good.
  • Finally, can you please cut the zucchini fries a bit smaller? Like actual fries? I think they will taste really better, but this is just a personal suggestion 🙂

In conclusion: I had to re-visit my motto of not having food where I normally have drinks. Urban City is the perfect place for a lunch in town: cool, easy going and fairly priced. Amazing and well presented dishes, including a wide choice for vegetarian. I am very much sure they are so well-known that they don’t need my blog post, still we had such nice time there recently I find impossible not to share.

Lunch at Trattoria del Circolo, Hollerich, Luxembourg

I am still working couple of days per week at home and this is giving me the opportunity to visit some restaurants in my areas also for lunch. Except business lunches, I tend to take my lunch from home as when not busy drinking like Joan Collins or eating like Adam Richman, I follow pretty strict dietary rules – unbelievable but true.

But after the almost three months lockdown, when I had lunch and dinner at home every day, and I pretty much avoided as well take-aways, I am quite keen now about having at least one lunch out per week.

Last week, I was invited by a dear friend to “Trattoria del Circolo“, the restaurant of the Italian club Circolo Curiel. To be honest, even if it is located at a walking distance from my place and I pass there in front almost every day, I have never been tempted to try it before. As I was explaining to P., in Italy usually this kind of restaurants are famous (or infamous) for the huge portions, very simple dishes and a fairly decent quality, so not exactly my target. “Trattoria del Circolo” was indeed an extremely positive surprise.

Starting from the location, traditional but not kitsch, warm and welcoming, with bright spaces and a very Italian feeling. There are two different menu, one for lunch and one for dinner, with some choices that are available at both meals and a good variety of products and tastes. Prices are moderate, with starters around 10 Eur, primi piatti around 16 Euro and main course from 19 Eur to 25 Eur. For lunch, there is also a daily menu available: starter, main and dessert for 13,5 Eur. You have two choices per course, so this might accommodate various palate.

We went for this option and we had as starter a seafood salad (other option was a caprese). As for main, I had spaghetti with rabbit and bell peppers, while P. had orecchiette with gorgonzola. We were not given option for the dessert, which was a cheesecake with raspberry.

Two menu, two bottles of water, two espressos, total bill read 38 Eur (19 Eur per person) that might not be a lunch for every day if you are surviving like me on lunch vouchers, but it is definitely very much competitive.

Pictures of our lunch followed by my general impressions on “Trattoria del Circolo“. (Note that the pictures of the location don’t do it justice, but it is just for you to have an idea.)

What I loved about “Trattoria del Circolo

  • Trattoria del Circolo” has been so far one of the best gastronomic highlights of this year. Not because I haven’t been out a lot, but because in its whole presentation was able to surprise me like not other places did recently.
  • Food was not only delicious, but extremely polished in its presentation, going far beyond the idea of “trattoria” as Italian I might have had. I can’t wait to come back and try the evening menu! Rabbit is usually a dish I love so much at my granma’s place that I tend to dislike everywhere else: here it was a great exception, as it was to die for.
  • The location is very cozy: honestly I immediately pictured there a date night, but it would be perfect as well for a family reunion or a dinner with friends. Bonus point: there is a terrace on the back if you want to eat outside.

What I liked a bit less about “Trattoria del Circolo

  • As for this lunch visit, everything amazed me, so there was nothing I would have changed – well, personally I would have kept the pasta in the boiling water for 1 minute less, but this is something totally personal. I will anyway give it another try for dinner and I will update the review at that time.

In conclusion:

I had a very tasty lunch at “Trattoria del Circolo” in Hollerich. The lunch set menu is a steal, the location is lovely and the food was surprisingly good and well presented. Definitely a place I want to come back.

Restaurant Peppermint, Bonnevoie, Luxembourg

I don’t know about you, but my memories related to eating at Asiatic restaurants are mostly related to my university years, where with 10 euro I could get Chinese dinner for couple of days and I was not complaining about the quality of the food received nor questioning about it contents. Since then, I have always considered certain kind of Asiatic restaurants most likely to be post hangover dinner or take away food rather than a fancy dinner location. Peppermint Restaurant definitely went over and beyond my – wrong – idea.

The restaurant is located in Bonnevoie, just a short walk from the train station. It has some bright windows on the street where – surprise! – you can see the kitchen. I feel it is a great presentation, something like saying “we have nothing to hide, look before you try”. While most of the restaurants show up their main interior décor on the street, they went for a totally different solution. The entrance hallway has pastel tones and you have this relaxed feeling while the waitress is guiding you to your table to be walked through a sensorial spa more than a restaurant.

The main restaurant room kept the same pastel, relaxed tones with lovely terrarium vases hanging from empty frames. An amazing idea I would definitely copy at my place. We visited Peppermint Restaurant on a Saturday night and the restaurant was busy but not packed, still maintaining a very zen aplomb and being everything but noisy.

We went for two soups as starter, followed by Lemongrass Chicken and Peppermint Praws. My Tamarind Soup Saigon Style has been so far the most incredible culinary highlight of 2019: a plain appearance compensated by an explosion of taste and different consistencies, finally concluded by a pleasant, prolonged spicy note.

Pictures of our dinner followed by my impressions.


What I liked about Peppermint Restaurant
:

  • The menu is not extensive but offers some very interesting dishes, travelling mainly between Malaysia and Vietnam. My suggestion would definitely go for the most exotic dishes on the menu: the restaurant offers as well very traditional items like Lemongrass Chicken, that are extremely good in their execution but “already seen”, while their special dishes, like the Peppermint Prawns or the Vietnamese Black Pepper Beef, will surprise your palate.
  • The wine card is unexpectedly competent for an Asian restaurants, with several great European labels. If you want to feel more local, Vietnamese beer is still the best option to accompany their spicy dishes.
  • Finally a positive note as well as in terms of service: smiles were not added up to the bill and our waiter was really keen explaining us in details dishes we had questions about.

What I liked a bit less about Peppermint Restaurant:

  • The service has been quite relaxed – meaning we waited a lot for the main dish to come – even if the place was not packed. Not a very negative point, but keep it in mind if you are in a hurry.

 

In conclusion: Peppermint restaurant is a great example about how to be surprised by a neighbor small restaurant, which, in this specific case, offers you an unforgettable atmosphere, a kind service and, above all, an amazing exotic food proposal. Recommended for a quiet girls night out or for a first exotic date.

 

This article has been adapted and published on Editus.lu.

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.