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.

Brasserie Guillame, Luxembourg city, aka: how to ruin your Sunday

Being living in Luxembourg for 10 years, I think I have visited most of the places that are considered as an “institution” in the country. Some of them, I really like, some of them to me are just traps for old Luxembourgish chicks. I am always giving them a chance, anyway, every couple of years, so it was the case of Brasserie Guillame today, when it happened to be in the city centre around 1.30 pm and we wanted to have a relaxed lunch outdoor.

We noted couple of tables available on the terrace and we waited at the entrance. Two waiters passed in front of us and did not even bother to say hi – being busy does not exclude being polite. We got to stop a third one that accommodated us on a tiny table on side.

Allocation of the space is crazy: you basically eating together with your next two neighbours and cannot even move an inch that also the next two tables move – good luck if they have to leave while you eating.

Waiter arrived again, gave us the menu and ask for an aperitif: yes, please, we said. And ordered a Campari soda and a Hugo.

Open the menu and just realized how crazy prices are – if you follow the blog you probably know I am very keen of spending my money in food and booze, but 34 euro for a tuna carpaccio, really? You pay the location, hubby said, and he was probably right, but I was still supposing I was going to eat well – poor little dreaming girl.

So while the table next to us finished the apero, had main, ordered wine and wine arrived, our aperitif were nowhere to be seen. Waiter came to take our order and I politely asked him if we were not supposed to have our drinks during our 15 minutes wait to see him again. Drinks arrived 5 minutes after he took our order. Hugo was nice to be seen but completely watered down.

Food arrived: hubby had a beef carpaccio with basil and roquette, while I went for a beef tartare. One small portion of fries was “to be shared”, as described by the waiter. Salad was so ugly I just pretended it was not on the table. I had a glass of rose’ that was likely to be coming from Lidl wine paper boxes.

I was starving and generally speaking you see I am not a picky girl – I eat almost everything. But that tartare it was one of the most disgusting thing I had in a while. It was so full of mayonnaise and mustard it was almost impossible to taste the meat. After two forks, the only things I was able to taste were pieces of cartilage I took in the middle of the mess (calling it dish it is definitely too much). I left it all on the plat – another thing I usually never do.

I ate all the fries, as I was hungry, and the waiter came and asked if we wanted more. Yes please, we said. After 20 minutes, again, fries were nowhere to be seen – I ordered my coffee and hubby had finished his carpaccio and had his dish removed. There, together with the coffee, came the fries.

As side note, if a customer is leaving a course totally on the dish, it is good thing asking him/her if he/she did not like the plat and if anything could have been done differently. Apparently this is not happening at Brasserie Guillame and my dish was taken from the table without – beg my pardon – giving a fuck about the fact I did not eat it all.

Final bill came 76 euro for 2 apero, 1 carpaccio, 1 tartare, 2 glasses of wine.

Ca va sans dire, they will not see me again – and still trying to wonder what people find attractive in this place.

guillame1 guillame2 guillame3

 

 

New year, new restaurant: Giallo restaurant, Luxembourg City

Yesterday it was a good example of how a very bad intro could turn into a wonderful night.

To welcome the new year in style, Anna and I had decided to try the new Truffle Bistrot in town, San Maurizio. As we wanted to be sure to have our table, we reserved before vacations so yesterday evening, after the usual drink at Café de Paris, we headed to this restaurant, that opened at the beginning of December just next Hamilius.
We got there and.. surprise! It was closed!
I was really pissed – can you imagine?  I clearly remember I asked twice to the lady who replied at the phone if they were opened on January 6th – I know in Italy it is vacation. They took my reservation and my telephone number – and they did not even bother to call to advise, not the best way to start a business.
I was also pissed because, for one second, I did not find in my mind any exciting place to head at 8.30 pm without taking again the car or a cab. Then, suddenly, I recall this new Italian restaurant I passed in front on Christmas night, just off Place d’Armes, in rue du Cure.

Hungry and a bit disappointed, we arrived at the door of Giallo restaurant – what else could go wrong tonight?, we said ourselves.
Indeed – it was a fabulous dinner.
The restaurant was opened for the last 15 days – they explained us at the very end – for a kind of trial period. They will be closed from Sunday for the next two weeks for some final renovation works and will be finally open again. The main room is not huge, but the mirrors on both sides are hiding it pretty well.
They also have two tables on the lower level, next to the kitchen, more intimate and romantic.
The menu for the night proposed a choice of starters, primi piatti and main courses, well divided between fish, meal and veggie. Plus desserts.
We started with a delicious welcome from the chef (potatoes soup with toasted bread and truffle). I went for fried egg with potatoes and endive, while Anna had octopus soup with garlic bread. I then continued with pork filet with aromatic vinegar and potatoes while Anna had eggplants parmigiana. As wine we had a good Amarone Valpolicella.

Find some pictures of the place and of our dinner and, after them, my opinion of Giallo restaurant.
  




      
   

Things I loved about Giallo restaurant:

– I basically loved everything – even if I really need more than one visit to fall in love with a place, I can definitely state Giallo jumped at the top of my preferences in the city center.

– The atmosphere is sophisticated and refined, classic but not boring neither old-fashioned. A perfect bond between elegance and minimalism, with great attention to details and relaxed settings. I adore the fact you are overlooking the street but you have your privacy, appreciate how the bar is settled just informally at the entrance and was surprised by the tables just down the stairs, in a lovely romantic recess.

– The food was incredible, totally out of the scheme of the Luxembourg scene, different, deep, complex. Genuine ingredients, simple combinations, amazing presentation. I was so glad to finally see something new, something we are not used to in Luxembourg, that surprises your palate and spoils your tastes. The amuse-bouche was a gem, the fried egg tasty and the mix with the veggie resulted just perfect. The pork was right on point and we finished our dinner full and, above all, satisfied.

– As said, I loved the attention to details – including the fact, we got served a Caffarel Gianduiotto with the coffee – my real favorite Italian chocolate.

– The service, as well, was just perfect – I know I used the word perfect maybe too much, but indeed it was needed. Always on time, discreet, smiling. We got the wine, we got the timing for the dinner, we got the dishes, we got a nice small talk at the end.

Prices are competitive: starters around 15 euros, primi piatti from 16 euros, main courses from 18 to 30 euro. Great, I would add, considering you are in the very city center and that portions are fairly big. Wine list has also honest choices, between 25 and 80 euros, with only few bottles at “more than 100 euro” level.

Things I liked a bit less about Giallo restaurant:

– As said, everything was great. If I have to find two small points: first, if you are up for a date, reserve the table at the lower level, more privacy. Our next table was empty, as the restaurant was not complete, so we were pretty happy about the accommodation, but I would have not liked, personally, eating with a stranger next elbow. It should be said, as my partner in crime noted, that the concept is kind of brasserie, therefore, based on that, spaces are fairly correct.

– The “white wines” list is currently embarrassing – only two Italian wines, both at 30 euro. I would have really appreciated if the choice was wider. There are some great Italian white wines, above all considering we are in an Italian restaurant, I hope they will stock something more before our next visit.

In conclusion: we were pleasantly surprised by Giallo restaurant: innovative and tasty food, perfect service and cozy location are making it a great promise on the restaurant scene in Luxembourg. I hope they will keep up the good standards they had on this our first visit. We will definitely come back.