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.

Kava Restaurant, Bertrange, Luxembourg

Not sure about you, but when I have to decide where to go for dinner, I am often limiting the choice to my comfort zone, meaning the areas were I live rather than I often go out – city center, place de Paris. Visiting a restaurant out of these areas has basically to be justified by a specific situation. The situation in that case, last week, has been an extreme curiosity to find out a new place that has been on my to try list since its opening – but for which I have been too lazy to move my ass out of Hollerich -, Kava Restaurant, just in front of Bertrange station.

As I did, you can easily book your table online – that for me it is always a plus point – and you get a confirmation almost immediately. We got there around 9 pm and were asked if wanted to eat on the terrace or inside. Ca va sans dire, we opted for being outside. The terrace is only partially covered – and heated – but the time to be inside this winter is going to be long, so why do not still take advantage of the  pleasant temperatures?

After a while, we were provided by two menus: the list of cocktails – that includes a quite creative side for being in a restaurant – and the food menu – few starters, main with fish and meat having the common point of being mainly cooked in the wooden oven, some typical Italian dishes. Vegetarians will have at least two options per course.

We ordered a “Cocktail of the Chef” while deciding what to eat. We finally went for oysters as starter, accompanied by a glass of champagne, followed by rabbit and beef filet, both accompanied by truffle potatoes pure’ and a bottle of red one, a special one tonight.

Pictures of the dinner are followed, as usual, by my impression of Kava Restaurant.


What I loved about Kava Restaurant:

  • There is a combination of factors, to me, that makes this place exceptional. The list of drinks, to start with, innovative and quite edgy. Our “Cocktail of the Chef” has been definitely a surprise, considering I am very methodical in my alcohol choices, – extremely refreshing, well balanced and presented. Not very often you do see such nice cocktail list in a restaurant – I would say Kava is definitely almost at Airfield level on this item.
  • The food choice is on the classic side, but with a twist. There are options that I have rarely seen in other place in Luxembourg city – my rabbit has been one of them. I was tempted and worried at the same time when ordering that, as the only place I normally eat it is at my Granma’s, but I would say that the competition was high. The cooking was perfect, the meat tender and the seasoning structured and fair in its balance. Even for dishes that are easily replicated around, like the oysters, the beef filet and truffle potatoes, the quality of the raw materials was amazing and the execution, for the main, outstanding. While I was very full at the end of the dinner, I reserve myself to try the entire dessert list next time, that appeared to be delicious.
  • The atmosphere and the service have their great part in the success of the place. We felt spoiled from the moment we got in to the very end, having the chef himself coming with the truffle for our dishes, with an extreme hospitality and professionalism of the whole team who took care of us. The place itself is very cozy, with an attention to details almost maniacal: from the personalized wine glasses, to the bread basket, to the restrooms. The ambience indeed is refined, sophisticated, without being too posh, with a mixed client base – that was a family with kids seated next to us, couples young and less young, table of friends.

What I liked a bit less about Kava Restaurant:

  • Our dinner was among the best I had in the last year in Luxembourg and I would definitely rate Kava, for the whole experience, among my top restaurants in Luxembourg. It reminds me very much of a place that used to be my favorite in the city for ages and that recently has lost much of its charm, due to a very poor management – no name, no shame.
  • Said that, should I find something to be picky at, I would definitely say that the list of wine is not as good as the one of drinks, and I would have expected to have some more good choices, further than Moresco Langhe from Gaja and a Sassicaia – there is also another Ornellaia on the list, but only from 2016.
  • Lastly, and that, unfortunately, cannot be improved but only acknowledged, the view from the terrace is not very romantic, but I recognized they did their best to accommodate it in the nicer way possible for the location.

In conclusion: I had awesome time at Kava Restaurant. The place does not have any gastonomique expectations, still proposes a very different kind of cuisine, with Italian origins and mainly based on the wooden oven. The food was delicious and the service exceeded our expectations. Cocktail list out of the ordinary is a plus. I would definitely recommend it for a date night, a business dinner or a meet-up with friends. The restaurant is a sophisticated oasis of peace, where all the details are adding up together in a welcoming, unique atmosphere.

 

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.

After-work at El Barrio, Kirchberg, Luxembourg

One of the nicest things about working in Kirchberg is that, during the week, after work, I have often the possibility to visit places that I would normally not, as totally opposite than the area where I live now .

Over the week of Holy Mary, in August, I had some friends visiting from Italy and as I could not take all the week off – even if I would! – during the working week one evening they came to pick me up at the office and we decided for the first round of drinks to stay around there. We took the opportunity to visit for the first time El Barrio, the Spanish restaurant that recently replaced La Boqueria.

If you remember my previous reviews, La Boqueria used to be one of my favorite places for food and ambience and I had also a private dinner there with Sergi Arola and was awesome. On the other side, it was coming pretty expensive (that generally for me it is not necessarily a negative point but I could see where the comment was coming from) and, above all, the last couple of times I have visited it, the service was not memorable – well, I would say, it was awful. In particular, I have been there less than 10 days before the final closure and I remember I had the clear feeling things were going downhill – while we spent more than 200 Euro only for drinks and some tapas and even if the place was completely empty, we have been relegated to the smallest table in the room and we were ignored for all the time of the dinner.

Anyway – this is history now and I was happy the place found quite soon a new investor.

The location of El Barrio did not change much and it is still stunning. Again, one of my favorite place in Luxembourg for ambience. We didn’t reserve and we understood in the future this might be a bad idea, considering it was a Monday night the place was really full already at 7:30 pm. Luckily they were able to find us a spot.

We were accommodate at the first floor, that, even having an open view on the restaurant, it is slightly less formal.

We went right for tapas and sangria – what else? We ordered octopus (clearly one of my favorite dish), cod fingers, patron peppers, garlic bread and tuna fish filled peppers.

Pictures of our after-work (and of our silly pose in their unique bathroom) followed by my impressions about El Barrio.

What I liked about El Barrio:

  • The food was delicious: we had only a small selection and I definitely could not judge the whole menu at this stage, but what we had was really, really tasty. My favorite bite was definitely the octopus – if it was not for my friend to stop me, I would have ordered other 3 portions. So if octopus is your thing, I would recommend to order it. Also the patron peppers were yummy and this is a dish I failed to find authentic out of Spain – not in this case.
  • The place, once again, is lovely: if you are fed up of the standard minimal black and white decorations that are being cool in most of the new restaurants in Luxembourg now, if you are looking for a place that brings you joy and light, this is definitely the place for you. This is not the kind of place where you can be in a bad mood. I bet you will smile as soon as you enter the door.
  • Last, but not least, the service: as I said before, the service was a big NO for me at the previous restaurant and I was a bit afraid of seeing how service would have been managed in a place so big, as I understand it might not be easy. Indeed, we could have not been happier: we had only one server for the night – that to me is the best choice – and he was one of the most amazing server I had ever encountered in my “blogger career” – no jokes. He was nice explaining us the dishes and the formulas, to address our doubts without being pushy, great to ensure our night was going well and finally to accompany us to the stairs when leaving. Very good job!

What I liked a bit less about El Barrio:

  • So, as per above, our evening was very pleasant and I look forward to come back again to try the full menu. If I have only to find couple of notes: it was August and the weather was cloudy but not that bad. We want to eat on the terrace (that is covered, so not a big issue) and we couldn’t, as it was closed. We couldn’t even smoke there and had to go each and every time downstairs. I think one of the nice things of El Barrio is definitely the terrace and it is a pity to keep it completely closed for the clients.
  • Regarding the food, it was all tasty and well presented. The only dish I would not order again and I would not recommend would be the garlic bread. I was expecting some hot and salty grilled bread, what we received was a plain baguette accompanied by aioli sauce. Reading back the menu at home, it was clear that my expectations were wrong (and it says bread and garlic mayo), but still not worth it to me.

In conclusion: I am happy to say that for what I have seen so far El Barrio really improved the general standards compared to the previous brand. Food is delicious, portions more than fair as well as prices and our service was amazing. To that, you have to add this is one of the most stunning location in Luxembourg and your view is completed. I would say this is perfect for an upmarket after-work, for a business event, a girls night out and definitely a date – in that case, if you invite me, be aware I would go for the Royal Sangria 😛

 

Mu Restaurant at Sofitel Le Grand Ducal

Unexpectedly but true, we are finally back on track with our reviews. As you may have already seen, there are couple of news on the blog, starting from our new addition Angela, who will take care of gastro-events and will help Jenni and I in covering as much as we can about the social life in Luxembourg.

Now – talking about food – on Friday night it was finally girls-night and with a big night ahead, Jenni and I decided to have some food, but in style, before hitting the dance floor. Normally ,when we go out on the week-ends, I don’t like having a full 3-courses dinner – I am 36, you know, and afterwards I would feel just the urge to jump in my bed instead of at Paname 🙂
At the same time, while having some tapas style dinner, we were looking for a kind of poshy location – as we wanted to dress up a bit for the night 🙂 – so we decided to try Mu, the almost new restaurant inside Sofitel Le Grand Ducal. Indeed Mu has been since its opening on my “to try” list, but I was always skipping it, as my previous dining experiences at Sofitel were awful.

We got a reservation for 8:30 pm on Friday night and our welcome was nice and friendly. The restaurant has been completely changed compared to when it was “L’Etoile Top Floor” and has a more relaxed and young appearance – still stylish and sophisticated, but more on the urban side.

The mood of the menu has also completely changed: understood it was our first time there, our waiter was really nice to explain us the formulas. There are several tapas, perfect to share or as starter, and then a list of main. While the focus of the main courses can be definitely found in beef dishes (with a great choice of sides and homemade sauces), the menu is not shy of solutions for non-meat eaters.

We drunk a glass of champagne before starting and as per our plan, we went for tapas: we ordered babaganoush (eggplant hummus), vegetarian fataya (pastry ravioli), clams, tuna tataki, scallops and octopus.

Dishes were surprisingly good: as said, based on my past experiences with Sofitel Le Grand Ducal, my expectations were not that high. I was glad to be extremely wrong. In particular, the scallops were amazing (and I am not a fan of scallops), lightly hot and with grilled pineapple. Octopus, prepared with pimento du patron (one of the dishes I miss most from Lanzarote), was soft and tasty. And finally the tuna tataki was just fresh, delicious and perfectly prepared.

The other two tapas – babaganoush and fataya – were definitely nice but personally speaking missed a bit of the quid other dishes had (the fataya in particular) so I would not order them again.

Over the course of the dinner, we drunk an amazing Chassagne-Montrachet 2012.

After 6 tapas in total we were pretty full, so even if the list of dessert (and the cheese selection) was great, we decided to conclude with a coffee and two rounds of digestif.

Pictures of our dinner followed by my impressions.


What I loved about Mu Luxembourg
:

  • I loved the mood of the place: it is refined and sophisticated, without being too formal. The view, ca va sans dire, is worth alone the visit and it is perfect for a date but also for a night with friends.
  • The tapas we had were to die for: I loved, loved the food and I cannot wait to come back to try further dishes on the menu. What was also impressive for me was that portions were not too tiny (6 tapas in two were enough for a girls’ dinner) and the prices are extremely fair (tapas are between 8 and 12 euros and main courses between 15 and 37 euros). This is definitely a place you can visit for having a lovely, tasteful, elegant dinner without asking for a loan.
  • The service was nice and polite, with some ups and downs, as normal: in particular, our welcome was great and at the restaurant reception they were outstanding. During the night we had a bit the feeling to have been forgotten, but it was quickly recovered at the end with a delightful farewell.

What I liked a bit less about Mu Luxembourg:

  • I enjoyed very much our time there. As said, maybe because my expectations were very not that high, our evening came out amazing and I would definitely recommend the place and come back again soon. If I only have to find something I was less than impress, the prices for SOME drinks. While the food menu is more than reasonable for such high-class restaurant, a glass of pink champagne is billed 37 Eur (yes, you read right) and the cheapest Cognac is also around 20 Eur. Still, if you want not to faint when you get the check, you have other options (international digestifs, like Limoncello or Bayles, for example, are still around 8 Euros) and the list of wine is coming with some nice options around 40 Eur.

In conclusion: if you are looking for a place with a modern elegant twist, but without unneeded white gloves, Mu is the place for you. They propose a fairly priced menu with amazing tapas – and some good-looking meat choices I have yet to try, including burgers. The service is lovely and the place definitely perfect to impress a date or for a night out. Watch out the drink choices if you don’t want your bill to add up.

Barefoot in Luxembourg meets people: Andrea

2018 is starting with a new chapter of the Barefoot in Luxembourg meets people column. If you follow my IG stories, you have already realized probably that one of my favourite place during winter has been La Briscola, this cozy Italian wine bar and restaurant off the station where I can relax after some very long days at work, in front of a lovely glass of Italian red wine. As it helped me so much taking the stress away in these last weeks that have been, for a reason or another, so tough, I decided starting the 2018 of our series from here, having a chat with the guys behind this concept.

I met Andrea, one of the owners, at my usual table, in front, ca va sans dire, of a glass of red wine.

foto per articolo

Good evening Andrea and welcome to Barefoot in Luxembourg. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about how you and your partners met?

Good evening! As you already unveiled, we are four Italian guys who met through a common passion, the one for wine and Italian authentic food. We come from different experiences – three of us are working in a bank, while I am the manager of the restaurant and I have a hospitality background – and come from different places – two of us are from Lombardia, while the other two are from Friuli region. We had all since long time this dream about opening an Italian restaurant, while enjoying it, and with “La Briscola” we finally managed to do it and we are very excited to celebrate our first year of activity this Saturday (ED: more information here).

What are you enjoying about La Briscola and why people should come here?

“Briscola”, in Italy, is a famous card game. The name indeed is not random: we wanted to have a place where to enjoy ourselves, like during a card game, and to put ourselves in action, not just as owners or managers, but as active players. Our La Briscola is not only a restaurant, the place where you eat and leave, but, also and above all, a place where you feel home, that welcomes you when you have an argument with your partner and needs a glass of wine, when you want to relax with your friends or celebrate a great day at work, when you want to discover more about wines and take a bottle home for your sweet half or your parents.

Why La Briscola should be different from tons of Italian restaurant we have already in town?

La Briscola is different, firstly, because it is not only a restaurant, it is a place to meet. That means that our customers are welcome for lunch or dinner, but as well for after-work, a night-cap drink, to discuss about wines and to discover our products.

Under the pure “food” point of view, then, we are proud to say that we have an offer that is completely different from the other Italian restaurants in Luxembourg: we have a seasonal, very short menu that changes every two months, including some forte that you can always find – for example: tartares. We do not propose the usual classic you might find elsewhere – the infamous carbonara or similar,  – but unique, designed dishes, with a strong regional orientation. In particular, while we try to cover the cuisine from North to South of Italy, we are very keen of being almost the first in Luxembourg to present as well several dishes from Northern Italy – while the major part of our “competitors” have speciality from Apulia or Sicily. We are glad to say that probabily 90% of the products and wines you are having at La Briscola cannot be found elsewhere in Luxembourg as well as offering them at very fair prices.

So La Briscola is organizing also getting together. What are the upcoming events of La Briscola?

As said in the beginning, this Saturday La Briscola will celebrate its first birthday. An occasion for us to thank our customers. We are having a special dinner menu and an all-night-long after-party with DJ set.

Moreover, we started already from some time the concept of Briscolino, an after-work evening once per month where our clients enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine, taste for free our dishes at the appetizers buffet and dance with a DJ – set. Briscolino is different from the other after-works in town because we are not changing our style for the event, but we are proud to present our same, usual products we import from Italy, from Gorgonzola on the spoon to Breasola to home-made pasta dishes. Briscolino is not an evento to fill up the restaurant for one night, but for having more people trying our cuisine and come back as regular clients.

Another great event we repeat on a regular basis are the Wine Talks: again, it is not just an occasion to taste and learn more about some great Italian wines, from a professional perspective, but above all an occasion to meet other wine lovers and discuss also with them about wine – a monthly “wine club”, if we want to define it so, that make clearer our idea about being not only a restaurant, but as well a reference for people passionate about wines. In fact, for example, during our Wine Talks, you have a chance to buy our wines – that are on sale normally at the restaurant anyway – for a discounted price.

So one year passed already, where do you see La Briscola in 1 year?

Our first year was basically to get known, that might not be easy considering that we are not in a fashionable area of the city. We want to continue to propose our Briscolino and Wine Talks and we have great surprises coming – for example the Italian Sunday Brunch and the kitchen open all Sunday afternoon for Italian football matches – or, if you don’t like football, just if you are too lazy to wake up on time for the brunch on Sundays.

Coming back to your Luxembourg background, how long have you been in Luxembourg?

I came to Luxembourg one year and a half ago for opening La Briscola. I was convinced by my other three partners in crime, who have been here for more than three years and know I was getting myself into real trouble moving here (laughing).

What is the place that has the most special memory in the city for you?

The bridge on the Alzette in Grund…one of the first places I saw in Luxembourg and still my favourite one.

Out of interest, and taken La Briscola out of the candidates :), what is your favorite restaurant in town?

I recently went to Tomo, a sushi place in Merl and tried their special menu with marinated sushi at the bar in front of the chef. In my opinion the best sushi in town!

What about your favourite night-life spot?

Being a pub-lover, Steiler is definitely the place I go on the weekends to enjoy a good atmosphere and good music.

What do you like about living in Luxembourg?

What I enjoy the most about Luxembourg is its international environment, which is something you can experience in very few cities in Europe. Lots of people are moving here from all over the world and are very open to make friendship. Going from bar to bar at night, you can easily spend the entire time with people you met on the spot, which is something that rarely happened to me in other cities I lived in before.

What do you miss most about living in Luxembourg and would change about the life in Luxembourg?

As Italian, the only thing I really miss is a better, sunny weather! Seriously, I hope the city will continue to grow and to increase the offer for entertainment, which is definitely needed, considering the relatively young age in average of people that have been moving to the city in the last years.

And finally, to conclude, what are the best three adjectives that describe better Luxembourg for you

International, cosy and forward looking!

Thank you very much Andrea and See you at La Briscola!

 

House 17, Luxembourg City, Reloaded

Finally I made it for getting my (company) membership to House 17 and I decided to inaugurate the season inviting a client for a business dinner there. We reserved on a Monday night and got there ahead him with M. The bar area was quite animated and we stopped by for a drink before dinner.

During the past year, we visited the House 17 several times for drinks, but actually my last time at the restaurant was the one I reviewed here. Normally in the past I did not review a place more than once, but since the blog started to be quite mature and places are changing, I decided to tell you more about this new experience at House 17 as I felt several things were different – and several not – so would be good to have an update after long time.

House 17, located in this lovely building in the very city center, is generally a members-only club, but if you watch out for their calendar there are several occasions in which it is open to the public and you can join their events, mainly after-works, even without a membership card.

Coming back to us, at the bar, our glass of champagne was accompanied by some small, sophisticated appetizers. Once our guest arrived, we moved to the restaurant – that was very quiet instead, but we did not expect anything different for being a Monday night.

We started with a small amuse-bouche, followed for me by foie-gras and afterwards by a suggestion from the chef, roe deer. I did not take pictures of the other dishes as it was a business dinner and did not sound very appropriate – sorry! Anyway my other two companions had my same main, but a risotto as starter, that looked tasty. We accompanied the dinner with two lovely bottles of red wines – an Italian Barolo and a French Nuits Saint George. We concluded with coffee and digestif.

Some pictures of our dinner followed by my impressions.

What I liked about House 17:

  • I like the idea to have an evening in a members-only club once in a while. It is reserved and a bit posh. Atmosphere is uptown and welcome is great. It does not feel old-fashioned as other similar places in Luxembourg and I would definitely go there with my friends as well, not just for a business related event.
  • Wine and drink selection is great, really. There are several nice choices at different price level and cocktails are well prepared – I did not have one in this occasion, but several the one before 😛
  • The food, compared to last time I was here, improved significantly. It was a lovely dinner, presentation was cared in details and my dishes were delicious, classic but never boring. In the menu you have evergreen numbers and seasonal suggestions, including veggie choices. The bill does not come out extremely cheap, but definitely in line with the place and well worth it!

What I liked a bit less about House 17:

  • Our evening was perfect. Almost. While the service generally was on point – great at the bar, fine at the restaurant -, at the very end I was quite disappointed by the behavior of one of the waiter. As background, this guy did not take care of our table during the night, but apparently he realized I was speaking Italian while I went out for a call.
    So, the lady who was responsible for our table came at the end with the bill to check and I noted the tips – a gracious one – by pen on the receipt. As already agreed with the reception ahead the dinner, in fact, we would have needed to pay by invoice to be charged to our company. The lady took the bill and went back to the counter and, at this stage, this waiter stepped in, speaking directly with me in Italian – in front of my client – telling me that if I note down the tip by pen on the bill, they (the waiters) would not receive it and I should have given it by cash. I was quite embarrassed honestly, as something like that never happened to me in a similar place. Now I don’t know if the story is true – if the restaurant is not giving the waiters the tip that is not paid by cash – whatever: this is not my problem and should be sorted internally, not involving a client out on a business dinner.

Except for this small episode, our evening was great and I was really happy to subscribed my membership to the club so I would have more occasions to go. House 17 is a mondaine place, perfect for a drink or for a dinner – a romantic date, a business meeting. Don’t miss the occasion to visit it during the open events. Bonus point: the food is delicious!

Ginko Sushi, Strassen, Luxembourg

Sundays’re calling sushi during summer time, so last Sunday, after a small walk in town and a drink at Go Ten, with a couple of friends we decided to book a table at Ginko Sushi in Strassen. We called the restaurant and, as the weather was really nice, we requested for a table on the terrace. The lady on the phone was very nice as she told us that the terrace at Ginko is directly on the street but they have a better terrace in the restaurant just next door – Le Zai – and she would have booked for us there.

Indeed Le Zai and Ginko are in the same parking lot and shared the same owner. As atmosphere, I have to say Le Zai looks definitely better but you can order Ginko menu as well there.

The terrace was lovely – with all these red lamps around – but the interior design was also impressive. We received all the menus – the one from Le Zai, the one for Ginko as well as the seasonal menu – and ordered a first round of drinks – Asahi beers and Diet Coke.

The decision concerning food takes quite long time, but we managed to get to a conclusion. All of us ordered three type of rolls (I had rolls with foie gras, rolls with lobster and dragon fruit and rolls with sea bass and avocado) and I ordered as well a miso soup (yes, soups are addictive for me, more or less like chips).

Our order was anticipated by a small starter of the house – two nems veggie rolls.

To conclude the dinner, M. ordered a sake while K. and I went for Chinese tea.

Pictures – Impressions are next.

What I liked about Ginko Sushi / Le Zai:

  • The atmosphere is lovely – the terrace is very nice as well as the interior design, perfect for a girls night out, family dinner, romantic date, even a business meeting. Details and decorations are just perfectly in place without being cheesy.
  • Service is great – but not formal: even if we took some time to order, the lady waited patiently for us. She was really available to reply to our questions and to explain dishes.
  • The figs / foie gras rolls were to die for and the lobster rolls were pretty good, would ordered both again. I also like the fact we had several “freebies”, like the tasty rolls at the beginning and the fried vegetables to accompany the sushi – bit melted but still good.
  • Price is fair: we did not drink much (only M. had beers, while me and K during the dinner had water and coke and tea) but still, having sushi, we spent “only” 34 eur each, not much in terms of Luxembourg standards.

What I liked a bit less about Ginko / Le Zai:

  • There is too much choice on the sushi menu for me. While this might be a nice thing for some, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed in terms of decision, above all as the mixed platter were very simple while out of the composed menus you have much more choice. Again, points of view.
  • I also did not like much my sea bass / avocado roll: the lady came saying they did not have more sea bass, so she proposed to change it with tuna (actually mine was half tuna and half salmon) and I did not think it was a good choice. Also M. pointed out he did not enjoy at all his California sushi as the tempura was icy cold – so feedbacks on the food were quite mixed.

In conclusion: the location and the service at Ginko / Le Zai are really nice and the final bill came out fair. The sushi menu is very extensive – too much for my taste – but still pretty good. Looking forward to come back and try as well the Chinese alternative.

 

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.