Iron Bartender Competition

Two weeks ago, Barefoot in Luxembourg has been invited to a new event concept that took part among five bars in the city center of Luxembourg (The Tube, Bellamy, Go Ten, Octans, Konrad). The idea is based on the cult Japanese TV show Iron Chef.

Each month a “mystery ingredient” will be chosen which the bars have to use to develop a special cocktail. That ingredient could be a special spirit, or fruit, or juice etc. Each bars cocktail is then judged by an independent panel and a trophy awarded to the winning bar to display until the next month.

Barefoot in Luxembourg was part of the jury of the first edition and the selected mysterious ingredient for that time has been Diplomatico Reserve Exclusive Rum from Venezuela.

We started our night as jury at The Tube bar, where we were proposed a very refreshing cocktail called About Figgin’ Thymes – the name has been based on the words assonance with “freaking times” and thyme, one of the main ingredient of the cocktail.
The drink was pleasantly sour and complex, you could not feel much the alcohol and was enjoyable to drink – perfect for a summer after-work. Personally, I found it a bit too much “ladylike”, but I would not mind ordering it again to start a night out.

 

We moved then to Bellamy where we were offered their Capitaliko cocktail – prepared with Rhum Diplomatico, Amaretto, chocolate and orange. The preparation was impressive but in this case the taste, while very good even for me that I am not an Amaretto fan, resulted quite strong. On the other side, we were offered some great food to share prepared by the Bellamy kitchen. I did not know that at Bellamy you could have as well some food – tapas style – and I have to say it was delicious. I would definitely come back to try some more in the next weeks!

 

Third stop was at Go Ten bar: their special cocktail – Diplomatico Choice – was a kind of Mojito prepared with coconut milk and chili. The cocktail presentation was the best one to me: the drink was served in a metallic glass covered on ice and accompanied by some exotic bites with beef and pineapple. The taste of the cocktail was as well for me the best one of the night: definitely a drink I can have all night long, above all during the warm season – I was imagining myself on a panorama pool in Cancun, sipping this ice glass. As some other members of the jury noted, indeed, it was not very much innovative cocktail – but it was the best flavor for most of us.

 

At Octans, the cocktail Carascastagnette was prepared with Rhum Diplomatico, home made pineapple liquor, Gran Marnier and Habanero. It was served together with an home made pineapple mousse prepared with cinnamon (heaven!). The combo was great, as well the cocktail. As taste, it reminds a bit the first one at The Tube, a bit girly.
Octans had definitely one of the better atmosphere for the night and the preparation was very captivating. I would have stayed there all night long!

Last but not least, it was the turn of Konrad. We were welcomed in the downstairs cozy bar room: their drink was called Cozaron, another word  game meaning as well “Konrad’s Son”.
The cocktail was prepared homemade cranberry jam. To me, while the idea was pretty much the most original one, the flavor was too much sweet, but the innovative effort was extraordinary.

 

Based on the average vote of the whole jury – about the name, the presentation, the taste, the originality, the winner of the first Iron Bartender competition was the Go Ten drink.

For us, it was a very nice initiative, something finally different that gives the possibility not only to the jury but as well to customers to try new cocktails – they will remain in the bar menu in fact for an entire month until the next competition.

A huge thank you from Barefoot in Luxembourg to Paul for the invitation, to Olivia our wonderful hostess for the night and to the teams of all the bars participating – you did great and we are really curious to follow up the results of next round.

The amazing pictures coming with this articles are kind courtesy of Nena Corner Photography, who joined us in the jury.

Dinner at La Briscola, Luxembourg City

Recently my blog had a very unusual turn from my beloved exotic places to Italian ones. As discussed in some previous post, being Italian, it is very difficult to find a place “as in Italy”, as most of the restaurants in town seem to have adapted their tastes to the local ones – having overcooked spaghetti as side dish, mixing heavy cream in several pasta sauces, adding some weird toppings, like ground meet, to pizza.

So, as it was for Indian food, I put in place a research off the beaten tracks in Luxembourg city and about new places, and I came across this intimate corner, opened a bit more than one month ago, La Briscola.

La Briscola was born from the love for authentic raw materials, exceptional wines and regional dishes of four young Italian men, already in Luxembourg with different backgrounds. They put into La Briscola their competencies at various level and the result is a surprising “new kind” of place. I said new kind because I have seen something similar only in Italy – specifically, in Milan. La Briscola started as a restaurant – they offer lunch set menu and a la carte dinner – but it is a meeting point as well after-work, for the “aperitivo”, and after-dinner, mainly over the week-end.

At the beginning I was a bit scared by the location, that, let’s be honest, is not one of the best in town, hidden in a small street off the train station. This – traditionally – is not an area for professional people and expats to go out during the night, but things are definitely starting to change in the last years, with more and more “nice” restaurants and bars taking the place of strip-bars and junkie spots.

Once you enter the door, anyway, you totally forget where you are. La Briscola is probably the perfect example of a place who came out with the “wow” effect, even without an awards winning architect and million of euros spent in lighting and materials (the reference is not a coincidence, indeed).
At the entrance, a cozy area for the after-work, with old barrels, candles, high chairs. The “parquet” and some of the wall decorations are obtained from the restoration of wine boxes. The bar counter occupies the central part of the venue, while, after that, the main dining room opens on the back, with an impressive wine shelf, wooden tables well distanced and a lovely mezzanine, perfect for a romantic date.

I started my evening in the entrance room, on the barrels, with an amiable glass (or maybe two..) of Pinot Noir, that was accompanied by bruschetta prepared with sun-dried tomatoes.

We moved afterwards in the main room – that was quite busy for being a Monday evening: I went for a Smoked Eggplants Flan, with Burrata cheese mousse and Lard d’Arnad as starter, while my friend had Cream of Leeks, Red Potatoes and Crispy Bacon.

As for presentation, as for taste, both dishes were delicious. The combination of flavors of my flan was impressive: it mixed perfectly the smoked note of the aubergines, with the sweetness of the cheese and the roundness of the cold cut. The balance was impeccable as well under the quantity point of view.
The soup was similarly enjoyable: a bit thick, but not through artificial additions nor useless cream, with the bacon compensating perfectly leeks sugary taste, in a pungent final crunch.

In the middle we were offered some yummy Truffle cheese to taste.

As for main, I chose the Paccheri with Duck Sauce and Quince: the pasta was “al dente”, as I love it, the duck sauce intense but mitigated by the apples – that you can barely feel at the end – and with a persistent, amazing perfume of rosemary that pervaded the dish. The other main we ordered was the Rabbit ‘alla Cacciatora’: I supposed I might have not been honest, as rabbit is one of the best dishes my grandmother prepares, indeed this was one was one of the closest in taste I ever tried. It was soft, savory, intensive. A dish I would definitely take myself next time at La Briscola.

We accompanied our dinner with a Vertigo – Felluga and concluded, after an amazing Millefoglie to share, with a glass (or maybe two…) of Grappa Barricata Le Diciotto Lune.

The final bill read 97 Eur, rounded to 80 Eur. Incredibly fair for what we have had.

After the pictures of my dinner, find, as usual, my conclusive impressions.

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What I loved about La Briscola:

  • The Location: substantially different from the usual “Italian style” restaurants in town, intimate, cozy, full of small details cared in the particular, in the middle between a posh wine bar and an informal regional restaurant.
  • The Food: the selection of raw materials and the composition of the menu is impressive. This is the kind of place where you would like to try everything that is on the carte. Portions are fair, presentation accurate and tastes unforgettable.
  • The Service: being a Monday evening the entire restaurant was under one person, who anyway served all the tables precisely, taking his time to explain dishes and wines and to talk with clients. Well done.

What I liked a bit less about La Briscola:

  • As clearly emerged from the review, I loved the place and I cannot wait to come back. If I have to find something to improve, it will definitely be the restroom area. Nothing wrong with it, but considering how well the restaurant and bar parts are set, I would have definitely expected some more care in the details.

In conclusion: La Briscola for me was one of the greatest discovery so far in 2017 and stepped already on the top of my favorite Italian restaurants in Luxembourg – together with Giallo -. The place is perfect for an informal dinner with friends, for a business talk or for a romantic date – book the mezzanine, in this case! Bonus point: you can just stop by for a quick glass of wine after-work and a shared charcuterie platter.