Lunch time at La P’tite Maison

When I arrived in Luxembourg, 10 years ago, the Theatre de l’Opera used to be one of my favorite restaurant and I link to it some of the most memorable moments of my first period in the Gran Duchy. After several years, and several different management’and names’ change, I came back to this stylish and cozy house in the Rollingerground that now takes inspiration by its location and it is called La P’tite Maison.

I heard already great things about it and wanted to try it since long time. We took the occasion for a lunch in town with Patricia. I got there around 12.30 pm and was taken to my table in the small side room. The décor is still sophisticated but classic. I love the unrefined parquet and the wooden ceiling. Tables are not wide, but still you don’t feel suffocated.

I waited for Patricia in front of a glass of cremant and, when she arrived, we went for a pissaladière Nicoise, a tasty tiny focaccia with onions and olives, as starter, followed by a cod with cherry tomato and olives for me and a beef filet with pepper for her. I paired my meal with a Chardonnay that was one of the best wine at the glass I honestly had recently.

What I liked about La P’tit Maison:

  • Place is very cozy, still one of my favorite in town for location and ambiance, either to meet your friends, either for a romantic break. I can definitely say this corner is very different from whatever restaurant in the city and decors are cared in details.
  • Food was still classic but not boring. Finally a place where the available choices for a business lunch are taken aside from the “standards” and the quality and taste of food came first – before the odd ingredients and the alternative presentation. Well done.
  • Service was definitely on point. Present but not stressful, I was offered a refill of my glass when Patricia joined – some other places would have asked: do you want another glass, Miss? And then we were given our time to lunch and chat, no rush.

Things I liked a bit less about La P’tit Maison:

  • I love strong tastes, but my fish dish was definitely too much on the garlic side, really. Happy I did not have any meeting or date in the afternoon 🙂
  • Our room, in a grey day, was very much dark. When we moved back to the entrance it seemed I just waked up. At lunch time and going toward the cold season, I appreciate a brighter atmosphere. It should be definitely better in the evening.
  • This is not a cheap place. While I did not feel we overpaid for what we had – aperitif, glass of wine, starter and main on the daily menu and coffee for a bit more than 50 euro each, I would include a visit for dinner under the high-end category.

In conclusion: The location of La P’tite Maison is one of my favorite in town, preserve the intimate aura of the original “small house”, evolving on a culinary journey through strong but classic tastes. I would definitely recommend it for a special occasion as a lovely and delicious alternative to the classic gastronomic places in the city.

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Back from holidays: Barefoot in Frangokastello

As you have probably noted from my Instagram feeds, I spent the last two weeks in Greece. My sister was getting married in Frangokastello, in the region of Sfakia, Crete, and I took the occasion for visiting (and eating!) around.

I have to say I was truly surprised by the place: I was anticipated Sfakia is a very rural region and I did not have to expect much. This is true – forget about Malia, Benindorm or Magaluf, and this time for a good reason!

Going out very often – as you see! – in Luxembourg, when I am travelling for my annual vacations, I rather prefer enjoying some relax. I love good food and wine, but I don’t look for posh places – those you have to dress up for getting in o queuing hours for a watered down (and pricey!) cocktail.

I landed in Chania airport with Ryanair from Franfkfurth Hahn and I spent my first night in the airport surroundings, at Areti Suites hotel. It has been a very comfortable solution as I had a late night flight and I was very tired. The hotel is just 5 minutes driving from the airport, rooms are conditioned and huge, and I was offered some local sweets and drinks and water. I had a typical Greek breakfast with calzoni and spanakopita the day after and then I was ready for my trip!

Frangokastello is about one hour and a half from Chania, of which only first 30 km are on the national road and the following part is on mountain roads with some sharp turns and breathtaking views – nothing too scary, I have to say, just be aware of goats travelling on your same way 🙂

The landscape, getting out from Chania, takes soon a different perspective. You find tiny villages in the middle of nowhere, with their colorful taverns and local people chatting on the doors.

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Frangokastello is a small village on the beach, well known for its castle and with some intense touristic affluence over summer. The temperature was still comfortably hot, above all compared to Luxembourg. A mild marine wind was making it more pleasant during the warmest hours.

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I stayed at Fata Morgana Studio and Apartments, a lovely complex situated 1 km outside the main village, on a cliff. My accommodation was perfect: I had a studio room with air-conditioning and fan, a terrace in the middle of a romantic garden and sea view.

If you prefer a more “central” accommodation – even if, I admit, this might be funny in terms of the village -, my parents were staying at Milos apartment, that have more or less the same facilities and a direct access to the beach. There you can also rent small stones mill in the old harbor!

From Fata Morgana, to get to the main part of the village, you can either walk along the coast toward the castle or take the car from the main road – parking was definitely not an issue, but in the morning I preferred having my power walk before staring my day.

Just nearby, there are two main beaches: Orthi Ammos – that is very natural and suggestive, and the main beach in the village, where you can find also sunbeds and umbrellas (one day, 5 euro).

Beaches are calm and children friendly and taverns to get your drinks and food are few steps away.

The village in fact does not lack of places to enjoy the local cuisine: in the morning, I usually took my breakfast at Maria’s bakery, just next to the castle, where you can have local snacks or croissant, together with fresh juices and the usual freddo espresso or frappe’ (an ice drink prepared with Nestcafe that is apparently very popular in Crete).

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For lunch, my favorite place was Kali Kardia, with its covered terrace and home made food. The average spent for a meal there is around 10 euro per person, including beer or wine, Greek appetizers, fruit and raki. You just have to remember you are on holidays and you have to relax. People are taking it very slowly and this was one of the things I enjoyed most.

For dinner, we usually went to Mylos Taverna, located in the small harbor of the village, or to Fata Morgana, on the cliff opposite my apartment. In both food was authentic, portions big and atmosphere characteristic.

For a romantic dinner, the perfect place was Taverna Ammos, located at the edge of the village.

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My favorite dishes during the vacation included “fava”, a mashed fava beans appetizer similar to hummus prepared with olive oil and onions, “Cretan salad”, a Greek salad plus some rusk bread, potatoes and Mizithra cheese and “Bifteki”, minced meat filled with cheese.

I have to say, we eat quite often at Greek restaurants in Luxembourg and even at the good ones, the quality of the food is far from the one I had in Crete. In particular, there are some foods I don’t normally eat in Luxembourg – first among them, the wine leaves stuffed with rice, dolmades, that indeed in Frangokastelllo were delicious.

With the food, we had plenty of raki, typical Retsina wine and Mythos beer.

I visited a bit around, including a scary trip down from Kallikatris village on one of the most dangerous road of the region – but I survived! – and to Rethymno, that is the third largest town in Crete and it is famous for its Venetian fortress – go there in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the warmest hours.

We  also spent some days in Chania, a vivid city, quite touristic, with a romantic harbor, a picturesque old Town and some nice shops. We stayed in front of Neo Chora beach, just off the main city center, and we were quite satisfied, but I have to say, if I could change my plans, I would have spent more days in Frangokastello, as it was ways more relaxing, typical and authentic.

I was busy for the wedding, so I had to limit my daily trips, but the region offers much more to see, including Samaria and Imbros gorges, if you are up for some trekking, Ellafonissi beach, Chora Sfakion village – from where you can arrange some nice boat trips.

My vacations in Frangokastello were extremely pleasant and we are planning to come back next year already. The summer is very long in Crete, so don’t be afraid to book there from May to October!

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Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People: The Brunettes

A brand new chapter of our series Barefoot in Luxembourg meets people starts this September. Today we have the pleasure to meet Emilie & Emilie, The Brunettes.

Ready?

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Girls, let’s kick it off: Who are you? What are you doing here?

We are Emilie and Emilie and we are DJing under the name The Brunettes!

Can you tell Barefoot in Luxembourg followers a bit more about The Brunettes?

We are really cool mums because we are DJs! We work in marketing and communication here in Luxembourg. Friend of us challenged us to DJ at a party at the Buvette Rotondes and we agreed. The following day, people kept asking us to be part of their events. This is how we ended playing at the Urban bar on the 23rd of June, at the Jakob’s for MixInLux’s 1st anniversary party, at Hollerich for the Marx and Mama Loves You,…

Wow, that’s impressive! So why do you think The Brunettes are different from other djs on the Luxembourg scene?

We definitely are funnier, real party girls. We like to play upbeat tunes, the ones you can dance to.

Having been to your DJ set I can ensure this is true 🙂 Now, coming back to your Luxembourg background, how long have you been living in Luxembourg?

Emilie 1: I come from Paris and I moved here nearly 6 years ago.

Emilie 2: I am almost a local, I am from Metz and I moved here 5 years ago.

What is your most beloved place in the city?

Emilie 1: I love the Mudam because I am a big fan of their musical choices on Wednesdays and the variety of their exhibitions.

Emilie 2: I really like what is happening in Belval. The university, the new shops and restaurants are turning the place into the most awesome and multicultural environment.

What is your favourite restaurant in Luxembourg?

Emilie 1 and 2: We love Ukulele because we love authentic thai food, cashew nut chicken for Emilie 1 and a good old green curry for Emilie 2.

What is your preferred night-life spot in Luxembourg?

Emilie 1: I often hop by the Steiler on Friday evenings: This place is crazy and I think people over there are really interesting. There always are nice people to meet there.

Emilie 2: Definitely the Buvette Rotondes: It is a great place, there is always something cool happening and we always are extremely well welcomed.

What do you like about Luxembourg life?

Both Emilies: We feel privileged in Luxembourg for the multicultural life, and being able to meet so many people form different horizons. The cultural life is bustling and dynamic.

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

Both Emilies: It would be quite cool to have more little shops life Leif and Beetles and Bugs or Stitch or Honey Mustard. We’d love to see all the new designers get a chance to really bloom too!

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

Both Emilies: Reims and the whole Champagne area. Take a tour in one of the houses of Champagne. People working there are the most passionate ambassadors of their products!

What is the best adjective to describe Luxembourg?

Emilie 1: Surprising

Emilie 2: Bustling

Just like us!…

Follow The Brunettes Facebook page in order to be updated on their next DJ sets!

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The Chef’s touch: Lea Linster, Frisange, Luxembourg

Last month, to celebrate my partner in crime Kochi’s birthday, we decided to spoil ourselves with a starred choice, the one I was craving since my arrival in Luxembourg, Lea Linster in Frisange.

I heard several different opinions about this restaurant and I was very curious to try it – I am generally not put down my negative opinions, nor pushed by great ones, I just prefer to have my  personal.

I got in contact with the restaurant via mail couple of weeks before and I got a quick reply in English – not to be taken as granted in most of  restaurants in Luxembourg. I specified the reservation was for a birthday celebration and we would have loved to have a nice table.

Moving forward to the day, we got to the restaurant at 7.30 pm – there was a private parking just in front. The restaurant was almost complete and we were welcomed at our table, just next to the window, overlooking the lovely garden.

We opted for the Bocuse D’Or tasting menu, a four courses journey through the tastes that honoured Lea Linster of the famous prize, with wine pairings.. During the wait, we were proposed an aperitif, I went – business as usual – for rose’ champagne, while Kochi went for a blanc de blanc.

Together with the aperitif we received some crunchy focaccia bread with herbs, followed by a bread bruschetta with olives tapenade and bresaola (tasty) and a poached quail egg (plain).

Our dinner properly started with a goat cheese mousse and gazpacho as welcome, followed by lobster and tomato starter, a classic melody, not very surprising in the medley but technically perfectly executed

At this time Lea Linster made her appearance in the room, spending some minutes for each and every table and taking pictures with the guests. We supposed it was a short” one woman show” to give an appeal to the visit, indeed from that moment on Lea would not leave the stage, taking not the leading role, but participating, with the brigade, to the simplest tasks of the service.

After a quick relaxing break in the breath-taking garden, we moved ahead with grilled fish and crusty peppers crisp. This is the point at which clearly the dinner had its turnaround, moving from just a straight-forward classic performance to a surprising and amazing celebration of tastes.

My main course was lamb, with potatoes crust, while Kochi had duck, with blackberries. Both dishes were perfectly balances, apparently simple, but built on delicate equilibriums, prodigious in their single components and just perfect together. We smiled.

Cheese trolley, followed by the pre-dessert, a crème brule accompanied by some sweet treats. The conclusion was a strawberry meringue dessert – the most delicious pastry ever tried – and I am not a dessert girl, you know it.

We moved on the terrace again for the coffee and digestive and we were joined at this time by Lea again, who took a small surprise for Kochi, her birthday cake.

While everybody was leaving, we stayed another hour with the chef, pleasantly talking, as we have been friends for ages. It was lovely to discover her background and heard some anecdotes of her life. We left past 1 o’clock, when the restaurant was already closed, with a personalized signed book as memory. It was an unforgettable night.

Walk through our dinner in pictures and discover our final feelings.

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What I liked about Lea Linster:

  • The location: although passing by I never had the impression of it to be a fairy tales place, indeed the interiors are minimal and warm and the garden, oh my gosh, the garden, a spectacular view and the most cosy settings – why did I not get married here?
  • The food: while the premises were somehow disappointing – the bread focaccia and the aperitif accompaniments were nothing “wow” – the menu slowly but decisively moved to a triumph of aroma architectures. Classic basis, someone would say, but still incredible and rare.
  • The chef’s touch: this is the real competitive value of Lea Linster. I visited few starred restaurants in my short blogger career and in most you have the pleasure, sometimes, to meet the chef. In some exceptional circumstances, we were invited to visit the kitchen (at Cracco, in Milan). But never ever we have been served all night long by the chef herself, like in this case, refilling the water, taking the empty dishes, checking on us during the night. Not only: Lea is talking amiably with the clients – all of them, without differences – like are old friends. It is not the appearance – you are leaving at the cash counter some good money, so we smile and thank you -. No, here it is completely different. You feel this is the restaurant of Lea Linster, not only in the name, but because she is here, she is interested in you, in your feelings, she wants to know everything out of the kitchen and in the room is fine. It would have been probably just a very good dinner without this touch, indeed it ended up being outstanding.

What I did not like about Lea Linster:

  • Considering the level of the restaurant and the exceptional dinner we had, only one thing was not on the point: the wine service. We ordered the champagne aperitif (an astonishing 26 euro per glass):  the sommelier came with both bottles, served Kochi’s white, then suddenly left, went to refill wine to couple of other tables and after 5 good minutes realized and came back to fill my pink glass. The timing of following wines were equally wrong: the red arrived when our main course was almost at the end. Moreover, especially for white wine, the quality of the wine pairing was  not in line with the one of the dinner. As said, everything else was just perfect.

In conclusion: to be reserved for a special occasion, a romantic rendez-vous, a family gathering or someone you want to spoil, Lea Linster might be a “classic” Michelin starred restaurant, but does not fail to impress, above all for the unforgettable touch of the Chef. We had a remarkable food and personal experience, to be kept in our memories until next visit.

 

Business Lunch at Amélys Restaurant, Le Royal Hotel, Luxembourg city

How blissful is to spend a lunch break in town during summer time? Since my office moved out of the city centre, I more and more appreciate this pleasure.

Last week, together with Patricia, we decided for a farewell in style before each other holidays, booking at the renewed Le Royal Hotel restaurant, Amélys. Since the great and advertised restoration that took place during the year, I was really curious to visit the new restaurant and, above all, to see their  new settings. We used to stop off at Le Royal in the past, for business meetings or after-work, but I was always a bit sceptic, due to its old fashion set-ups.

Indeed, when we entered the hall, it was extremely refreshing: seeing how the hotel has now a brand new imprinting. .The luxury signature that has always impregnated its wall stays, but has been met now by a trendy influence and a cool design – something that will not be past next year, but mix and shake, in the perfect combination, classical opulence and contemporary fashion.

We headed to the restaurant Amélys, that is now pleasantly bright. We were welcomed with a radiant smile and accommodated on the terrace – we learned in Luxembourg that when the sun shines, you have to take advantage of it!

We were handle the daily menu and the “a la carte” one and explained we could choose between the weekly proposal – in case you are in a hurry, they are available to prepare and serve you business lunch in one hour – or the classic menu. We decided to go with the suggestions and we started with a glass of Luxembourgish white wine, served at the table from the bottle.

The menu consists in a buffet of vegetarian (and fish) starter, one main dish and a dessert. You can choose only a main or a combination of the three.

From the starters buffet, I had an egg pot, a smoked fish gluten-free roll and an avocado and shrimps cocktail. Patricia had a gazpacho and a feta salad. We could (and wanted!) to take more – you can refill your dish how many times you want basically – but while standing at the buffet, we saw a lovely dessert passing by, so we decided to keep some space till the end of the lunch!

I continued then with the meat dish, an amazing beef steak prepared with artichokes and olives, while Patricia had the cod filet. I accompany my dish with a light red wine..

Finally, we had our dessert: a chocolate macaroon with ice-cream and a fruity cake and sorbet for Patricia. An espresso was the perfect conclusion of our lunch.

Find some pictures of our lunch followed by my usual impressions.

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What I loved about Amélys restaurant:

  • The food was superb: even classic choices like shrimp cocktails or the beef steak are prepared in a refined way, that makes them never boring. Portions are more than fair and the presentation is lovely.
  • The starters buffet is a very alternative concept: I was at the beginning a bit questioner, as I am not a fan of buffet. Indeed – you could have already noted it from the pictures – the Amélys idea of buffet is very far from everything you might have seen so far in Luxembourg: the stands are clean and refrigerate, the food choice is wide and has a great attention to dietary restrictions (vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options).
  • Service is a real five stars item here: from the welcome, to the wine, to the dishes explanations, everything is cared in details. As I was still finished my red wine, they proposed to wait to bring my dessert and when the sun went missing, they turned on the heating on the terrace only for us. All small attentions that are highly appreciated.
  • The price is more than reasonable for the service you get and for the quality of the food and you have several options, including a la carte one, for different budget.

What I liked a bit less about Amélys restaurant:

  • Our lunch was indeed perfect: we really enjoyed every single minutes. There would be nothing actually I will change , and I shared the same feeling with Patricia. I am really looking forward to visit Amélys again for dinner and for their Sunday brunch.

In conclusion: We had the perfect lunch time at Amélys restaurant: the new settings of Le Royal Hotel, refined environment, tasty and eclectic kitchen, enjoyable service. I definitely recommend it for business lunches and gathering with friends,

Summer lunch at Beet, Luxembourg city

Finally, after having postponed the meeting several times, I managed to meet Sunny over lunch in town and to try the (now not so) new vegetarian restaurant Beet. The restaurant is located on the place Guillaume, just next the Tourism Office, has a quite large terrace – that was empty due to the cold weather – and two main rooms inside.

Sunny booked a table for 1.15 pm and we were assigned one in the back room – the restaurant was really packed but the service was on point for a quick lunch.

The menu has several options – only vegan and vegetarian – mainly divided between burgers and falafel, in different combinations. I went for a vegetarian patty with eggplants – accompanied by fries and salad – and a thai infusion – warm water with lemongrass and ginger. Sunny had a crispy burger and an home made apple juice.

After the pictures of our lunch you will find my usual impressions.

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Things I loved about Beet:

  • My burger was very tasty as well as the fries. You can choose an homemade sauce to accompany them and I had the chilli one. OMG – it was to die for! If your idea about vegetarian food is still stuck to bland raw vegetables, here you will definitely change your mind. I have seen also nice dessert going around – a pity I was too full to try one.
  • Drink selection is also good, wide and insolite. My infusion – even if a bit difficult to handle – was perfect for my lunch.
  • The ambience is fresh and minimal, same than the service. I would have loved to be on the terrace, a shame about the weather.

Things I liked a bit less about Beet:

  • As general impression, I found it a bit on the pricey side – 14 euro per the burger and 4 euro for a water infusion. I anyway perfectly see this could be mainly due to the very central area and prices would be different if the location was different.
  • Similarly, for my personal tastes, I find the place perfect for a lunch, but it definitely miss some atmosphere for a dinner.

In conclusion: Beet was a very nice discover. I will definitely come back again to try other burgers on the menu and the falafel dishes. With its minimal style and fast service, I find it perfect for a girly lunch in town.

 

Following the hype: Gastronomica Luxembourg

In the last couple of years, I noted less and less traditional concepts open their doors in Luxembourg and left the place to hybrid forms of business, similarly to what happened already in most of the other European capital. So – not just bar, but spaces integrated with shops, not just restaurants but also library, meeting point, concert hall.

It happened also recently that there are places most of my friends have been already to and I did not feel interested to visit yet, until a certain point when their descriptions became so pressing, I decide to check in myself.

Gastronomica Luxembourg, located in the area of Hollerich, is a clear example of both cases: a shop for Italian authentic products but also a restaurant and an after-work spot. A place most people I know loves, due to its products and its prices – this is a recurring reason, indeed.

So, on Wednesday night, after a business meeting with Jenni, I propose her to give Gastronomica Luxembourg a try. Their Facebook page was sponsoring an after-work on that day, so we headed there around 7.30 pm.

The restaurant is located in the complex of “Troc”, so we parked our car outside and walked in the building. The area is not very fashionable: the restaurant is overlooking a parking space and the atmosphere is very post-industrial..

We expected to find an Italian aperitif style, indeed when we entered everybody was seated at the tables having kind of dinner. Without hi or hello, a waiter came to us, asked if we reserved and, when we say no, he pushed us on a table next to the fridge. Actually – we said, we prefer staying outside.

We move on the “terrace” and we took place on a old and dusty couch. The table in front of us was dirty but the waiter did not take care of it. We asked for two glasses of white wine and the waiter shortly came back with a half litre pitcher – he did not ask if we had preferences for the wine nor if the pitcher was fine. He then proposed us a mixed platter to accompany the wine and we accepted. The platter indeed, even if composed only by cold items (charcuterie, cheese, salads, pickles) took ages to come.

The food was very good and there was a quite good selection. Mostly cold cuts and cold salads, as well as some pieces of cheese and grilled  vegetables. The quantity was huge for two persons and was accompanied by a huge basket of Italian bread.

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During the further hour we spent outside nobody came to check on us. We got to draw  the attention of the waiter waiving to him inside. We ordered some more wine and a small cheese platter to conclude.

The wine he took to us lately was different from the first one, randomly: the waiter just told us, he decided to give you some different wine – I wonder that was just the bottle they had open at that time-.  Then, when the cheese arrived, he placed the platter on top of  the fist one, that was still unfinished and with some pieces left. I can perfectly understand the needs of not being formal, but that was a bit too much.

We finished the cheese and the wine and as the night was pretty chilli, we went inside to pay. I wanted to offer my friend the night, so I just asked the waiter how much it was in total and handle him my debit card. He said “15 euro” – no ticket and no menu with prices.. -. I found it incredibly low, but I supposed we paid only the wine and indeed everybody was describing it as very cheap place. I was leaving the room when the waiter shouted at me: “and you friend is not paying?”. Sorry – I said – I supposed it was the total, in fact I asked you “how much we pay in total”.. He told me he split it already for us – who asked? Gosh.

To sum up, what I liked about Gastronomica:

  • The only thing I liked was the food that was pretty good and definitely cheap. Unfortunately, having a small bill is not the only important thing when going to a restaurant – otherwise it would be the same buying nice products and have them at home.

What I did not like about Gastronomica:

  • Even if the place is brand new, details are left there, unattended. The worst I have seen in the restroom an unattached Ikea mirror left in front of the wc. The idea about having spare furniture to fill the “terrace” is not that bad, but still a bit of cleanness would help.
  • Service is unbelievable: table left dirty, no questions about the wine, wine randomly changed, dishes left on the dirty one, no bill……

In conclusion: I perfectly see people like Gastronomica for its good Italian food and cheap bill. At the same time, while I understand a place like this should not be formal, to me the service is an important part of the dining out experience and here was completely missing. I don’t feel I will come back any time soon.