Alterego Restaurant, Luxembourg City

Can creative cuisine be as well affordable? I had the truly impression recently that the most sophisticated one restaurant gets, the more expensive the final bill is going to be. Sometimes it is perfectly justifiable as well as appreciated. I tend to save at least couple of dinners per year for outstanding places – mostly Michelin stars – and even if when the check is close to the 4 digits, I have never had real regrets, as they definitely deserved. But, from my experience, there are more and more restaurants which tends to offer a slightly gastronomic proposal and to have Michelin-starred prices – I can definitely find couple of examples in Luxembourg. I am not perfectly comfortable with this market approach and I am recently looking forward as well to find some good food at fair prices – who is not?

So couple of weeks ago, I was pretty keen to try a new Italian restaurant that opens its door less than one month before. The place is called Alterego and it is located in route d’Esch, next to the BIL headquarter.

If you are about to close this review before going ahead as you are fed up of “Italian places” in Luxembourg, I would suggest you not too, as this is definitely a different one!

So, I spontaneously met with Jenni at our own headquarter (aka Paname) and we decided to try something new, at least for eating. We called Alterego to reserve and arrived there around 8ish on a Thursday night.

The restaurant is very cozy – tiny, but lovely arranged in a way not to make you feel suffocated. Thing I like is that while from outside the place is quite anonymous – looks like a neighborhood brasserie – inside you have a warm and welcoming unique feeling.

We started with an aperitif – a great Negroni – and we then ordered a selection of starters to taste, one primi piatti to share (black tagliatelle with cuttlefish) and one main to share (crispy codfish), followed by a homemade tiramisu and its relevant cocktail.

Find the pictures of our dinner followed by my comments.


What I liked about Alterego:

  • The food was OMG: when I decided to try this restaurant, I had good expectations about a fair, well executed traditional Italian cuisine. Gosh, I was wrong! Dishes are sophisticated, exceptionally presented, food combinations unusual and traditional plats revisited. Among the starters, my favorite one was definitely the “Knodel”, these sausage and potatoes balls in a light broth with smoked ricotta. The best dishes of the night, to me, the black tagliatelle – a perfect combination between the imperfections of homemade pasta and the rounded, deep taste of the ingredients. Finally, the dessert: I don’t have sweet tooth, you know, but this deconstructed tiramisu, accompanied by a tiramigiu cocktail, enchanted me. It was too good looking to eat and too tasty to finish the meal without. As the menu is changing every month and it is based on a regional cuisine – this month it was Friuli Venezia Giulia, from February 19th another (surprise!) region – I really look forward to come back again and try new proposals from the house.
  • The service was great: we were a bit bitchy, honestly, but they maintained their aplomb. In particular, after we ordered the selection of starters, we realized that Jenni does not eat meat and we asked to not have meat dishes. Only the first couple of appetizers came with meat and after that the order was adjusted, even in progress. Then, for the following two dishes, we requested to have them to share and instead of bringing a portion in the middle, they already split the dish in two, both for the primi piatti and for the main course. Smile, great attitude and explanations as well as in English made the rest.
  • The bill came out incredible fair: we had a huge dinner (several starters to share, two main to share, dessert, a bottle of wine, coffee) and the final check read 104 Eur in total. We had aperitif and digestif offered by the house.

What I liked a bit less about Alterego:

  • Our dinner was great and I would honestly strongly recommend the place with no exceptions. The night we have been there was really quiet, but honestly I don’t mind being in a calm place once in a while!

In conclusion: We loved Alterego. It is a very special Italian restaurant, definitely different from those you might have tried so far. The cuisine is regional based and the menu changes frequently. Dishes are sophisticated and well presented. The restaurant is perfect for a romantic date, a rendez-vous with friends or a night “you just don’t want to cook”. Above all, prices are extremely fair. Recommended!

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A new Italian in Bonnevoie: Moka Bar & Restaurant

Last couple of weeks have been awful and I am really looking forward to a break. The sudden changes of weather are killing me off this year and it is also a quite stressful period between work and private matters. This is just for saying that, after a very busy August, we have been slightly missing. We have a bit of backlog of reviews and we are going to bake them off soon. In fact, we did not stop trying new places!

Last week it was the turn of this tiny Italian restaurant located at the start of route de Thionville, coming from town, in Bonnevoie district. Moka Bar & Restaurant opened just the week before but I have seen so many people I know going there already that I decided to make it jumping at the top of my “to-try” list.

We arrived there around 8.30 pm on a Thursday night without reservation. During the evenings, you can easily park in the car shop slot just in front. The location, as said, is cozy, with a lovely interior design and a warm atmosphere. We were allocated at a table on the side of the room and we ordered some drinks to start – I had a Spritz with Campari while A. had a Diet Coke.

The owner came back after a while with a proposition of dishes: indeed the restaurant does not have a proper menu card, but offers daily dishes based on the market availability and on the mood of the chef. Several interesting options were anyway available for main, while as starter we were proposed a mixed Italian platter that was anticipated by a small pot of olives.

I had a dish of octopus “alla Catanese” accompanied with vegetables – the initial dish was proposed with spaghetti but I am not a fan of pasta as side dish – while my friend had strozzapreti (a kind of fresh pasta) with lobster and shrimps.

During the dinner, I drunk couple of glasses of Montepulciano and we concluded with an espresso and two digestifs that were offered by the house.

Total bill (1 Campari Spritz, 1 Diet Coke, 2 glasses of red wine, 1 mixed starter, 1 pasta dish with seafood, 1 seafood main) read 65 Euro.

Find the pictures of our dinner and my final considerations.


What I loved about Moka Bar & Restaurant:

  • The atmosphere is great and you feel “like at home” as the service is smiling and polite. We were asked several times during the dinner how we enjoyed the night and the owner stopped at the end to explain us a bit the concept of the restaurant. At the same time, I find the decoration were accurate, from outside the place does definitely not look like the neighborhood’s trattoria, but a more refined restaurant.
  • The food was very tasty and the presentation is amazing for this kind of place. I enjoyed both the starter and my main and I am looking forward to come back to try other dishes ( I heard steak with truffle and I regret not having it as well!). You can feel ingredients were really fresh and the preparations “like in Italy”, with the right aromas and spices.
  • The bill was surprisingly fair: right, we did not have a lot to drink, but still, I think I fail to pay 32 euro for my meal even at Burger King’s – and we had fresh sea food!

What I liked a bit less about Moka Bar & Restaurant:

  • While dishes were presented and explained in details, on the wine side I was slightly deluded. I asked for red wine and they just asked me if I wanted it strong or light (guess what). Then they got my glass and I had to stop the waitress to ask which kind of wine was it. It was a Montepulciano, as already said, and it was pretty fine – unpretentious, but fine. I definitely liked it at the end but don’t have too many expectations on the wine by glass I suggest. We did not ask for bottles, I suppose it will be definitely different in that case.
  • This is not a negative point – there were no indeed in our evening, even the note about the wine above is one of the picky things from me – but more a recommendation: I lived in Bonnevoie for more than 10 years – and I will be back sometimes soon, finally! – and I have seen several of this kind of places opening their doors. I don’t name them, but I suppose if you are familiar with the area you might guess at least two. The formula was really similar – no menu, just daily dishes. At the beginning the quality was amazing and the prices extremely fair. Going on, as customers were more and more, they started to cut drastically on the quality (frozen food, microwaved dishes, cheap ingredients) and increasing exponentially the prices (last time in one of them, we paid 80 euro for 2 beers, a mortadella starter and two pork sausages mains without side). I really hope Moka will stay like it is as I found one of my perfect places.

In conclusion, Moka is the kind of place you might go when you don’t want to cook, but it is definitely lovely as well as for a date or for a friend’s dinner. Fresh products, an extremely nice service and reasonable prices are making it for me one of the best Italian in Bonnevoie at the moment.

 

 

Rotisserie Ardennaise, Belair, Luxembourg City

On a quiet and sunny Monday evening, Kochi and I decided to start our week in style and spontaneously meet up for a drink in town immediately after work.
Following couple of rounds of wine in the very city center, we were exploring reasonable and nearby alternatives for dinner and decided to head to the Rotisserie Ardennaise, an old fashion Belair institution that is very close to where I live.
As said, the restaurant has been there for ages but has recently changed management and that looked a valid reason for us to try it.
Moreover, even if in my neighborhood, I was always a bit hesitant to try, as mostly attended by those formal and polished Luxembourgish families and aged couples. But wines overcame our shyness and after a quick call to ensure there was place available – yes, it was Monday, but in Luxembourg you never know! – we were welcomed at the restaurant.

The settings, as for above, are coming from another age, but personally speaking I find them quite sophisticated. The service on the other hand was smiling and quite informal – maybe because we were the youngest in the room 🙂 – and we were feeling immediately comfortable in the place.

Our order was anticipated by a carrots gazpacho and a small terrine. We went then both with bresaola carpaccio with truffle as starter. As for main, I decided then for a classic (beef filet with maître d’hôtel sauce, accompanied by crunchy vegetables and fries) while Kochi chose a ravioli dish with ham and truffle, again.

We drank a perfect bottle of Nuits Saint Georges during the dinner and concluded with a round (or maybe two as usual) of Grappa Le Diciotto Lune, a nice Italian grappa in barrique I have discovered already at La Briscola.

The final bill for food read 46 euro each, plus 98 Eur for the bottle of wine. Both rounds of digestif were offered.

Pictures of the dinner and then, comme d’ahbitude, impressions.

What I like about Rotisserie Ardenneise:

  • The food was unexpectedly bloody good: surely, the choices on the menu, the presentation as well as the dishes that were coming to the table were very “classic”, but in a good way. The quality of the materials is exceptional and the combination of tastes does not feel boring at all. My meat was butter, fries to die for (yes, I have a problem with French fries, I know) and the bresaola rich of flavors.
  • The service is nice: the restaurant manager used to work in a very well known Italian restaurant in town and inherited from there the radiant smile and the lovely manners.
  • The wine card proposes great choices for all your (wallet) mood, from “I will get my salary only next week” to “We need to celebrate in style”.

What I liked a bit less about Rotisserie Ardenneise:

  • We arrive at the restaurant 15 minutes before 9 pm and you can smell they were in a hurry to make us finishing “on time” as this is the kind of place where people go to eat at 7 pm. The order part and the last 30 minutes were a bit on a rush, that at list was my feeling: as soon as our main was over, we were immediately asked if we wanted a dessert, etc. Yes, we need to specify we are girls who love taking their time for dinner, having our break, ciggy pause, relax. Still, if you want to have dinner there, we suggest you to ago no later than 8.00 pm to enjoy it fully.

In conclusion: Dining at Rotisserie Ardenneise was pretty much a surprise. The food proposal is very classic, therefore it is suggested if you have to take out someone who needs an introduction to French cuisine, it is perfect for a family affair or a business dinner. Indeed we had pleasant time: the food is delicious and never boring, the service is lovely, for real, and the old fashion atmosphere is not much more than a pleasant surrounding.

 

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.