A luxurious evolution: Le Chatelet, Luxembourg City

As you might have noticed if you follow the blog, we tend not to review a place more than once in a couple of years – even if, when the feedback is good, I visit it again.
We recently did an exception for Le Chatelet, the refined restaurant located in Boulevard de La Petrusse, that welcome us last time when was still part of a famous Luxembourg brand.

The restaurant has been acquired by Jean-Baptiste and Aleksandra, this refreshing couple who decided to leave their previous professional life behind and jump in a new adventure. They gave their chef “carte blanche” with the idea of moving the restaurant concept from a steak-house (remember, also Barefoot in Luxembourg was there for meat) to an innovative bistronomic brasserie.

The step to get to this level was achieved as well with some noticeable improvements to the appearance of the venue: the tables on the main road have been removed, there have been some major reviews in the internal settings and at the wine bar, but it is on the terrace that the main changes have been operated. The cheap coverage has been removed in favor of a more open and green terrace, a Parisian corner in the heart of the station area.

In regards to the cuisine, forget about bouche a la reine and toast au champignon, the card is surprisingly creative and have limited choices, but for all the tastes – it must be said that the evening menu changes every two weeks and some seasonal suggestions are proposed on spot. The a la carte menu change with seasons as well.

We had ourselves a tasting menu with wine paring.

The amuse-bouche was the prelude of an exceptional dinner: an exquisite tartare of carabineros prawns accompanied by tomato and mozzarella foam. A symphony of taste in only couple of spoons, the freshness, almost kinky taste of the prawns dancing with the comforting, bold intermezzo of the mozzarella and closed by the acid notes of the tomato.

We were already gobsmashed.

The first starter was an unpredictable combination with old-fashion reminiscences  and exotic notes: risotto with celery, lobster in two consistencies, homardine sauce and coconut milk. The intriguing part of the dish was indeed the mixture between classic tastes (lobster) with creative elements (the celery risotto was unexpectedly to die for, the coconut milk was taking you to a Bangkok food stall and back).

Then it came the foie gras ice cream, a dish that would have definitely not disfigured on a Michelin starred restaurant table. Tasty but not sickly sweet, accompanied by a crumble of hazelnuts and spices, it managed to wrap the palate without tiring it.

As main course, we had ray with semi-salted butter, young carrots with kaffir lime, emulsion of shellfish and fried capers. Again, a mishmash of a classic dish with brush strokes of originality. To me, this was as well the best combination between a dish and its wine, as the salty note of the sauce and the capers perfectly mingled with the sweet delicacy of a local Riesling.

Finally, the meat dish: lamb rumsteak with ratatouille cake, tapenade and potatoes. An astonishing presentation for a pretty vintage closure of the meal with a delicious drive.

Together with the coffee, we got our dessert, last dish of the menu: apricots, cacao crumble, coconut and vanilla ice cream, apparently a simple blending, indeed a very elaborate twist of consistencies, tastes and aromas.

Pictures of our dinner with the relevant wine pairing, followed, as usual, by my overall impression on the restaurant.

What I loved about Le Chatelet:

  • As general consideration, I have to say I was positively surprised by the new restaurant imprint, innovative but not in an aggressive or exaggerate way – as well at pricing level. Our tasting menu was fantastic, but the “a la carte” choices include some very impressive numbers as well – the fried creamy egg in the starters for example or the Carnaroli risotto with truffle and pata negra.
  • The wine selection is amazing – not in the sense of general commercial wines or just big names, but of a very attentive selection and experience. For example, with the lamb we had a Spanish red wine. We were skeptic, but it was a great wine, intense and powerful.
  • The timing of the dinner was perfect: generally with the tasting menu you often risk to have dishes coming in too quickly and to fill up immediately. Or – vice versa – to wait too much between courses and get bored. In this case, nothing could have been done better.
  • The service was great: spontaneous and attentive. A special mention to the lady who was introducing the wine, she was really showing a great passion and explaining the pairings in a detailed way, but easy to understand.

What I liked a bit less about Le Chatelet:

  • We had fabulous time and our dinner could have not been better. If I want to be picky and find one item to change, it would be the combination between the lobster dish and its wine, a Chardonnay with significant citrus notes. The dish to me was on a sweet side, as well was the wine. While my partner in crime observed a drier wine would have been better, on my side I would have kept the wine and added a bit of chili or cayenne pepper to the dish. De gustibus.

In conclusion: The visit to the new Le Chatelet overcame our expectations. We found a renewed brasserie with a strong gastronimique accents. Perfect if you are bored of the “usual” standards and expect something “more” from your dinner, without ending up in the pretentious. Strongly recommended for a date, a dinner with friends or a business meeting.

And if you wish to enjoy the sun informally, a tapas menu is also available.

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Nemo’s, Kirchberg, Luxembourg City

After long time, last week was finally the time to go to the movies again. I had a girls night with a friend and we decided to go to watch the new “50 shades”. I was a bit skeptical as I was very deluded by the first one of the series but I have to say this one, to me, was definitely better. Not an intellectual movie, for sure, but at least a better plot and some very romantic bits (yes, I cried).

After the movie, we decided to stop at Utopolis for dinner and we headed to Nemo’s, a small Japanese restaurant. It was full being a Saturday night and we did not reserve ahead, but they were anyway able to find us a small table. I ordered once from them online and the sushi was not very good – but it was already couple of years ago, so I wanted to give them another try.

The service was informal and pretty fast, we went for a beer and a glass of wine and ordered a Sushi Sashimi Combo. The platter was quite good for sharing – I had a huge box of pop-corn during the movie – for more consistent appetites it would definitely be better order the bigger combinations

Couple of pictures of our dinner and my considerations about the night.

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What I liked about Nemo’s:

– It was a very good after-movie solution: fast and smiling service, nice food combinations, comfortable location.
– Our sushi sashimi combo was a good portion to share, the fish was fresh and well prepared and the variety was impressive for such small platter.
– The price was more than fair (less than 30 euro each for two drinks, the sushi platter, coffee and sake).

What I liked a bit less about Nemo’s:

– Indeed, being in the middle of the Utopolis and with clear windows, the location is definitely not fashion and a bit chaotic. I would not consider to visit it on purposes, but this is indeed the best after-movie solution for me.

In conclusion: Sushi at Nemo’s was pretty good. If you are around Kirchberg or at the movies and you want to have some nice Japanese food, this is definitely a recommended informal place for me.

 

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.

 

 

Restaurant Essenza, Luxembourg City

After the Christmas break, we decided to have a reunion with my girlfriends and arrange a fancy dinner in town to celebrate New Year and couple of other various personal achievements.
We booked at “Essenza“, the Italian restaurant upstairs Apoteca bar, in the very city center: I had always been extremely satisfied of all my dinners there, but recently I was missing from the place since my bacherolette party in 2014. Good timing for a come back 🙂

We got to the restaurant slightly in delay compared to the reserved time, after having advised, due to the crazy traffic and icy roads. Once arrived, we waited good ten minutes at the entrance, as nobody was in the reception area. We decided then to check upstairs and the waitress welcomed us to our table.

We started with an aperitif while waiting for the crew to be completed and we decided then to go for a fish dinner. I had Tuna Carpaccio with Bottarga as starter and Crumbs-Bread Shrimps with Orange as main. Most of my friends went for the mixed carpaccio platter as starter and the tuna tataki as main.

We had a decent Sicilian wine during the dinner and we concluded with some mirto and biscuits offered by the house.

Some pictures of our dinner followed by my feelings about the night.

What I liked about Essenza:

  • The location is really fancy – perfect either for a reunion with friends or for a romantic date. The candle lights are giving a very special mood to the rooms.
  • Dishes presentation is very appealing, the kind of you say “wow” when the plat arrives at the table.

What I did not like about Essenza:

  • Unfortunately, food was not good at all: the presentation was giving a lot of expectations that remained poorly deluded. My carpaccio was extremely watery – you cannot even feel the fish – while the gambas were badly defrozen. Potatoes, vegetables, amuse bouche, everything was missing of taste, like ingredients were only nicely assembled for the presentation and not for the palate. Everybody had the same feeling: dishes were “fine” but not delicious as we remember them to be. Without being arrogant, I would say you can get a better level at home, with supermarket ingredients.

In conclusion: I was really looking forward to come back to Essenza after long time, but my expectations were not satisfied. I remember it to be a very good Italian fish restaurant in town and now I would say it is on the average level, pricey side (we spent 62 euro each). While the location has lots of atmosphere and presentation of dishes was amazing, the food failed to impress us. Hope it was just a bad night for them.

Mad About Peru’ Restaurant, Dudelange, Luxembourg

It was jut couple of months ago I was complaining with my partner in crime Kochi about the fact that in Luxembourg we were missing Peruvian cuisine spots that, in order capital cities, starting from London, have been the hype since quite long now.

It appeared that someone listened to my prayers: “Mad about Peru’” opened in Dudelange recently and we took the occasion to visit it yesterday night. I booked via their Facebook page and I got a quick confirmation reply.

We arrived in Dudelange around 8 pm: the restaurant is located in the very city center pedestrian area, but it was easy to get a parking next. The location is cozy: tall tables at the entrance and larger area with bigger tables on the back, in front of the kitchen.

We were accommodated to one of the tall table at the entrance and given the menu. We started with two Peruvian drinks – a Perulime for Kochi and a Chilcano maracuja for me that were accompanied by toasted salted seeds. For the dinner we chose: lomo bites (tequetos de lomo saltado) and banana chips with guacamole (peruanachos) to share for starters, then I went with a “Woman del Callao” ceviche – bar ceviche accompanied by fried calamari and spicy sauce – while Kochi went for a classic one.

We had a bottle of Peruvian chardonnay and concluded with two espresso and “marinated” pisco as digestif – we tried the one with raisins that was quite sweet for me and a drier one with apricots.

Find the pictures of our dinner followed by my impressions about the restaurant.

What I loved about Mad about Peru:

  • Our whole experience was one of the best I had recently in Luxembourg: the food was “OMG”, something totally different compared to what we are used in Luxembourg , mixing strong and delicate tastes, fresh products, accurate presentation. The banana chips were crispy, not oily, intense. The lomo bites home made and incredibly tasty. My ceviche for me was the best dish of the evening: the bar was amazing and the preparation outstanding.
  • The service was lovely, authentic, smiling. At the end of the night we were almost feeling at a friends’ place more than in a restaurant.
  • The price for the dinner was exceptionally fair: two aperitifs, two starters, two fish mains, one bottle of wine, two coffees and two digestifs (second one was offered) for a total bill of 84 euro. Difficult to find something better in town.

What I like a bit less about Mad about Peru:

  • Depending on your expectations, the menu list is not very extensive. In particular, except three appetizers, to me there is a shortage in starters to begin with.
  • The only “deluding” item of the dinner was the guacamole with the banana chips: it was homemade and fresh, but missing a bit of taste – and salt probably.

In conclusion: if you are fed up about having to decide every time between a French brasserie or an Italian pizza, go and visit “Mad about Peru’” for an amazing culinary journey. Whenever you are out for a romantic date or celebrating with friends, this is the perfect place: delicious food, kind service and cozy settings are making it already one of my favorite place. You have to travel to Dudelange, right, but it is definitely worth the ride and the prices are very fair.

Il Quadro Delizioso, Luxembourg City

There are some evenings in Luxembourg, when you want to go out for dinner but options are incredibly limited. You should always keep something up your sleeves: my emergency solution in this case is “Il Quadro Delizioso” in Gasperich. Apparently they are always open 🙂

We ended up there on Sunday night, after checking couple of other places that were closed: even if it was already almost 10 pm and there was only one table left eating, we were nicely accommodated.

I had a pizza with fresh mozzarella, Parma ham and arugula, while my friend went for a huge dish of pasta with sea food, including half lobster.

I concluded with a lovely espresso gourmand while he had a portion of black forest cake. We had a bottle of Pinot Gris with our dinner and we were offered a digestif at the end. Our total bill was 90 euro (two dishes, two desserts, water, bottle of wine and coffee).

After the pictures of our dinner, you can fin my impressions about Il Quadro Delizioso.

What I liked about Il Quadro Delizioso:

  • Service was on top: I have to say usually Italian places lack on the service side, in this case it was amazing how well we were treated. Even if we arrived late and we stayed there well past closing time, we never felt forced to leave or to hurry up. Our waitress was always smiling and checking if we were fine.
  • Food was good: my pizza was great, crunchy, perfect topping, fair size. Above all, I have to say I appreciated the desserts (both, as I tried as well M.’s one). I am not very much into sweets, but in this case I would highly recommend you go for it.
  • Bonus point: if you are into 70s Italian music like me, this is going to be the soundtrack of your evening at Il Quadro Delizioso.

What I liked a bit less about Il Quadro Delizioso:

  • Nothing I really dislike, our evening was definitely pleasant. You should anyway consider the place is very informal and in a quiet area.

In conclusion: Il Quadro Delizioso is the perfect place for those evenings you don’t want to cook or you want to have a chat with friends without much structure around. The Italian food they prepared is very food (pizza and cakes on top of it) and the service is one of the best I have found in Luxembourg so far.

 

Cineast presents Estalgia Party: the Life in the Eastern Block during the Socialist Times

CinEast is an annual film festival dedicated to present different kind of movies from Eastern and Central European countries.
The festival takes place in autumn and the program includes not only screenings but also a variety of different concerts, exhibitions and other cultural events promoting the life and traditions of the Eastern and Central Europe.

One of the events I participated in was called Estalgia party, which main idea behind was to combine a film screening with music, food and a quiz about the Eastern European history. The organizers had reserved Rotondes in Bonnevoie and the venue was already quite crowded when I came to pick up my bracelet. The cost of the event bracelet was 15 EUR at the door and besides the event program, it included some free shots of liquor and some typical Eastern European food.

I liked the theme of the party and how the staff was also dressed up accordingly. Similarly,  food could be collected with food stamps and the menu was adapted to project the poverty of socialist times. The quiz was a nice idea but unfortunately not everyone could take part of it so easily and the location and table arrangements made a bit difficult to interact with people. I would have liked the quiz to  take less time and have more time to be dedicated to the short films and the actual party with music – maybe an improvement point for next time!

Indeed, overall the atmosphere was really nice and it was easy to mingle around and talk to people. Most visitors that I talked to were either from Eastern/Central Europe or they had lived there for a period of time. A few had come due to pure interest towards movies. Generally my feedback for the event was positive and I was glad that the festival was not only about films but also had the cultural aspect very well integrated. Looking forward to next year Cineast already!