La Maison Lefèvre, Esch-sur-Alzette: great expectations, fine result

On Sunday, inspired by the good weather and by a quiet – and sick – Saturday night, we travelled to Esch-sur-Alzette for a date lunch at La Maison Lefèvre.

I had great expectations toward La Maison Lefèvre, which made it recently on the Gault&Millau 2016 guide and I wanted to try it since long.

We had a side table facing the street and, after a cremant aperitif accompanied by some focaccia canapé, we received a Saint Jacques amouse-bouche. I went for a poached egg with  potatoes pancake and truffle while hubby had foie gras and then we continued with rack of doe for two. We had half bottle of red wine and two coffees for a total bill of 127 euro (2 cremant, half bottle of wine, two starters, two mains, two espresso, half water)..

How was our lunch at La Maison Lefèvre? Discover it after the pictures.


  
  

Things I liked about La Maison Lefèvre :

Food was nice and not plain: both my dishes had unusual combinations of tastes for usual recipes and I really like the effort in creating unique propositions and not having the common, boring brasserie meal. This was for me the very good point in favor of this restaurant – everything on the menu was new and appealing – and the main reason for coming back.

Fair quality – price: we had a lot of food in a nice environment for a reasonable price. They have also a tasting menu for 55 euro that looks very convenient. The wine list is various with several good choices for small prices – and great bottles with honest recharges.

– Amazing bread, wide vegetarian selection and private parking under “other good things”.

Things I liked a bit less about La Maison Lefèvre:

– They should have had a great photographer for the website as the place in reality it is a bit less suggestive. It might be because it was daylight, but I was not impressed by the settings as I was online.

– Attention to details very lacking: our table was just attached to a cupboard that was full of dust (see picture). The cheese trolley was in the middle of the restaurant, in a very busy place, without any coverage. My main course presentation was a disaster (joking I said hubby “my doe should have been killed by a car”). From a place like this and for its potential,  I would expected something different.

– I booked the table one week in advance but apparently I was not on the reservation list. The waitress who welcomed us kept us for a quite long time at the counter asking me if I was sure I booked, who I talked with, when did I do my reservation.. My husband saw I was a bit disappointed and he smiled back to don’t worry. And then the waitress herself looked and me and stated “yes – be calm please” in a very impolite manner. I don’t think it is the right attitude at all. You have a table for us, ok. You don’t have, we leave. Not really fancy keeping me in the middle of the room interviewing me to understand if I just pretend to have a reservation – I have a schedule of the places to visit that covers the next two weeks and I am not at Zuma, so no, I am not pretending.
Then, as hubby and I speak both decent French and fluent English, I don’t see the reason why she had to speak her bad Italian with us and treat us as kids, with very informal attitude, even later at the table. We might be not as old as the average of the restaurant, but I am not your sister. Just to say, other waiters were pretty fine and professional as it is supposed to be.

To sum up: maybe because I had seriously big expectation about La Maison Lefèvre, I was a bit deluded. Food combinations are great and prices very fair, but I think they should put a bit more effort in the care of details and on the service. Indeed, it think it is a lovely place for a family celebration.

Sunday evening at Chateau de Bourglinster Brasserie

I had a pretty quiet week-end after all – definitely too stressful season at work, so I preferred to lay on my couch watching silly TV programs – I am addicted to chavs reality, like Geordie Shore, apologies – and eating Indian take-away.

On Sunday night, after a sunny afternoon spent at the new Rotonde, we joined some friends for an informal dinner at Chateau de Bourglinster Brasserie. The castle complex is located about 20 minutes driving from Luxembourg city in the countryside and includes a Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurant and a small brasserie. This one has a lovely terrace overlooking the valley, but due to the number of guests and the wonderful day, it was already fully booked, and we dined inside.

The Brasserie offers a combinations of menu – starter, main and dessert or two starters main and dessert – plus eventually wine match for reasonable prices, starting from 49 Euro. The card is not very wide – about four dishes each section, including one veg option and one daily suggestion. Unfortunately some of the dishes were not available anymore when we arrived.

I opted for tuna fish as starter, guinea fowl as main and cheesecake as dessert. Hubby had tuna dish as started, oven-baked beef as main and pistachio biscuit as dessert.

The wine card is indeed extensive, with some good numbers – we went for a Saint-Aubin all dinner long.

Enjoy some pictures of our night and find after them my usual general impressions and comments.

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Things I loved about this restaurant:

– Fairy-tales atmosphere: it is incredible that driving just for 20 minutes, you will be wrapped up in surroundings from another century. Definitely recommended for a romantic evening or for a night trip with someone visiting.

– Structured dishes, more on the gastronomic side than on the real brasserie one. I was expecting to have some typical charcuterie, beef tartare and bouche a la reine, like in most up-class brasserie in the city. The selection of ingredients and the dishes themselves were surprising and pleasant. Finally something different!

– The sorbet served as welcome of the chef – together with the snails – and the guinea fowl were definitely the best dishes of the night for me. The guinea was pure butter and the combination with the mushroom and the various sauces was just delicious.

– Service was fairly impressive. Notwithstanding the fact we ordered all different dishes on a table of 10 people, the plats were arriving directly to the person without any delay or questions from the waiters (same situation, different place: here we have a beef filet – screaming – who did take the beef filet? – louder – we have one dish less, who is missing? and similar noisy sounds more appropriate for a fish market than a restaurant) . Service was also always on time to fill up the wine glasses and the boys appreciated the fact the chef seated down with them for a chat after the dinner.

Things I liked a bit less:

– Interior settings are quite featureless. Personally speaking, I would not do the trip and spend some serious money for dining inside in the brasserie.

– I am fine having a short menu card, since my previous posts you should have already understood it is something I prefer. But then if out of 13 dishes you miss already 5, the choice starts to be hard. I had already opted for lamb as main and chocolate dessert when the waiter said they were over. Sad.

– I had half of hubby’s beef and some of his dessert and I was not really impressed. The beef was sickly sweet and some sauces were definitely out-of-place – too acid. Happy I went for the guinea fowl!

In conclusion, I really appreciated this evening at the Chateau, but talking with hubby and another friend while driving back to town, I confessed that I would have come back only to dine at the main restaurant of the castle. 75 euro and 20 minutes driving for me, lazy spoiled Corie, are not worth a dinner with friends in such settings. I really see it as a place for a tete-a-tete and in this case, “go big or go home”.

 

Sunday Funday: Culturando + Matese

The weather in Luxembourg this week end was not inspiring any outdoor activity – yes, I was feeling quite lazy. We had a home dinner with friends on Saturday and I experimented my Granpa’s zeppole recipe. They are kind of puffs filled with cream and sour black cherries. In Italy, they are prepared for Carnival and specially for Dad’s Day, that is on March 19th. The result was definitely fine, considering I did not have any more zeppole on Sunday morning for my breakfast 😛
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On Sunday, after the usual two hours cardio, we watched a movie and we went  to Culturando for couple of glasses. We decided to arrive a bit earlier this time so when the night started to be busy, we took our way back home – as old people always do…
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We stopped at Matese , in Bonnevoie, as my fridge at home was almost crying.. Matese, in fact, is the restaurant we are always going when I don’t want to cook. It is really close to our house, we don’t need to dress up – actually we went also there in gym wear -, it has a lot (and when I say a lot, it means five pages menu) of choices and the food is pretty nice.

Things I love about there:

– The manager and the staff are lovely. It seems to me you are going to eat to your aunt’s house.
– They always have a table for you, even at 11 o’clock on Saturday evening.
– As said, they have several dishes on the list – pasta, pizza (try the “Riardo“), salad, meat or fish main courses and most all of them are delicious. So it is the kind of place where to go if one of you wants a big meal and the other one is on diet, or if when going out you don’t have yet clear what to eat.
– Fried calamari is one of my favorite, but as we wanted to stay light after the aperitif, we opted for my second fav, the traditional Carpaccio. The portion is huge, the meat is soft as butter and it is served with salad and super piadina. I could eat all of it – well, actually I did….
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Depending on what you eat and drink, it can be really cheap or a bit pricey. We managed to stay on 22 euro each for the big carpaccio plus 2 half-liter bottles of water.

Definitely worth a try if you want a familiar environment and good Italian food. They have also a nice relatively cheap menu for Valentine’s day.
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Ah, they also brought us some yummy polenta as welcome, but my hubby could not wait I took the picture to have its own.

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Restaurant Matese
,
89 rue de Bonnevoie,
L-1260 Luxembourg Bonnevoie

The great Sunday night spot, finally: “Culturando” Italian Aperitif

I took sometimes to write this post. Not because I was not happy about my (several) experiences at Culturando – I was, indeed – but just because as Oscar Wilde used to say “When I like people immensely I never tell their names to anyone. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy”. It is really like that. I like Culturando event on Sunday – Aperitivando – so much that I am scared to spread the voice it is a lovely place and find it so packed next time I could not catch my usual corner. You know how I like concluding my weeks with a couple of glasses. And I already talked about my frustration of not finding enough lively places in Luxembourg City on Sunday evening.
Culturando is now a kind of a bullet point to check each end every week, you never get bored.

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Things I love about there:
Lovely Italian wine at fair price. You can go with several different glasses, 5 euro each, or ask for the bottles list. Guys working there are extremely competent and will be able to suggest the wine going along with your mood. We went for Fiano this time and I could not be more satisfied.
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Amazing food, really. I am not the kind of person taking advantages of aperitif buffet but everything was soo delicious we had three rounds in two people. Panzerotti with mozzarella and tomato were heavenly, arancini with radicchio to die for. You have also lasagna, veggie quiche, rice cake, pizza, olives… you start saying: “I will give a try” and you will end up conveying: “I will not have dinner at home tonight”.
(graphic contents – caution while scrolling down 😛 )
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Cool music and people. The atmosphere is pleasant. If you are not looking at the snow landscape outside, you could think for a moment to be in some lovely wine bar at Colonne, in Milan, or in Trastevere, Rome. There are a lot of tables, so most of the people are seated and you don’t have to queue for drinking or eating – highly appreciated. You know, I feel pretty old and I really don’t like over packed situations. Culturando is relaxed but always well animated.
Last thing: it is a bit out of the city center chaos – just next door Utopia cinema – but easily to get. You can take bus n. 3, stop Henri VII, and you don’t even need to be bothered looking for a parking – but if you want, Glacis is less than 3 minutes walking.
Culturando is also open during the week if you want to have a glass with friends or for a cozy Italian dinner.

Culturando,
15, avenue de la Faiencerie
L-1510 Luxembourg

A Sunday in Trier, Germany

Sometimes is it just pleasant having a day out of the usual scheme. Because of our different working schedule, we definitely do not travel a lot together, so spending last Sunday out of the city was a well deserved break from Luxembourg life.

Trier is just off German border, from Luxembourg main station you have trains each and every hour and in less than one hour, for a very reasonable price (9.5 euro each for a return ticket) you are in Trier Hauptbanhof.

Trier (Treviri) is the one of the oldest city in Germany and has Roman origin: you can still find significant rests around the town center. One of the most symbolic monument is for sure the “Porta Nigra“, that was marking the entrance to  the city and it is the best preserved Roman door northern than Alps. Trier is also the city of Karl Marx and has a lovely pedestrian area, starting from Porta Nigra down to the Marketsquare.

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As well as in Luxembourg, shops were closed on Sunday but the city center was not totally empty (as in Luxembourg). We had a small walk to the Market Square, around the Jewish area and down Fleischstrasse. At the end we stopped by to a typical German brasserie, Zum Domstein on the main square. We noted that in the main part of the city there were only two German restaurants and all the others were Italian or Turkish. Maybe German people don’t like to eat German food?

We had some biers, sauerkraut and schnitzel, as real tourists. The portions were huge and the prices were a bit lower than Luxembourg – we spent 75 euro for two small starters (a soup and some potatoes gallette), two main courses (a schnitzel and garnished sauerkraut), four biers, coffee and digestif. The ambient was pretty calm and nice, service was lovely and I could exercise a bit my (bad) German. Luckily we got all the dishes I tried to order, so not that bad at the end 🙂
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The afternoon was colder and after visiting the Dom, we stopped for a quick coffee just in front of the church. I wanted a dessert, but their choices were limited (homemade grapes cake and cheesecake). Hubby had the cheesecake but it was not amazing. Service was also a bit slow and prices higher than in the first place.

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Pretty full and happy we took our way back to Luxembourg.

 

A nice Sunday discovery: Ambrosia Restaurant, Luxembourg City

As usual, last Sunday, we spent a good half an hour on the couch, trying to find a restaurant to spend our evening. As you probably figure out, if you are following my blog, we do love going out for dinner on Sunday evening – it is like a nice way to conclude our week end, above all when my husband is working – BUT at the same time, in Luxembourg central areas, very few nice places are open.

We decided to go for Ambrosia, a cozy Greek that open not long time ago in rue de Notre-Dame. I visited several Greek restaurants already around the city and I always avoided this one so far as it looks like a bit too posh for the situation we are usually having Greek dinners – you know, big tables, lot of different appetizers, Ouzo. Moreover, several years ago, I had a really ugly experience at the To Kastro, a famous restaurant that used to be located in the Ilot Gastronomique and to myself Ambrosia, from the appearance, remind very much of that one – wrong idea!

We called around 8 pm and we reserved a table for 9 pm, two people. No problem. We arrived on time and the restaurant was full, but not fully booked. On our side, just next to the window, we were the only persons, and we really appreciated it, because otherwise tables would have been really too close (note to self: never go there on a packed night).

A smiling waiter left us the menu, similar to other Greek restaurants we have been, maybe a little bit less extensive. The atmosphere is nice and romantic, even if in contrast with the noises produced by the room – extremely loud – with some Greek music in the background.

We went for two small starters, Atherina – that is my favorite, fried tiny fishes, – and a portion of marinated Octopus. The wine list was taken separately on a simple sheet a bit confused, but the waiter again was helpful. We opted for a Chardonnay, average price, that was great. I am not a fan of floral bouquet wines, but given the strong taste of most of the dishes, it was indeed pleasant. To follow, I went for the mixed grilled fishes plat, that includes tuna, swordfish, shrimp and squid. The dish was as whole good: I would say that the swordfish and the tuna were great, only one shrimp a bit narrow (maybe two next time?) while the squid was gummy – above all compared to the octopus we took as starter that was delicious. As side, there were some grilled vegetables and a tiny portion of rice with sauce. The rice was yummy as well as the vegetables. I would have appreciated a bigger side portion, but I can understand this is more a personal choice and people prefer a bigger main portion, as it was the case. My husband had sea bass and was happy about his choice.

We were really full so we concluded with two espresso coffees. In total, we spent 100 euro, of which 28 where coming from the wine. Fair quality/price relationship, above all in the city center.

As a small side note, the ladies’ was a total mess – this is not fully attributable to the restaurant, but if you had a busy night maybe you ensure in the middle that someone checks out the restrooms.. When you are in the city center you expect a certain level of service also on this side.

I will have another try at this restaurant, with the meat next time, also to check how the situation changes compared to the clients the restaurant has. As said, the atmosphere is very romantic, but it resulted being just really loud because of people talking and music. But the food at the end was fairly good and the waiters always available and nice.

Check it out:

Ambrosia Restaurant

In the meanwhile, do you have any good suggestion for Sunday nights?
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Tasty Sunday: Brasserie Le Plëss, Luxembourg

The only little thing I continue to find  a bit annoying after eight years in Luxembourg is the total lack of a social life in the city on Sunday night. I can understand that most of the people are going out like crazy during the week end and they are therefore not such motivated to have alcohol again on Sunday evening. Since I grow older, I must admit, I find most interesting resting on Saturday night and have a full Sunday to enjoy (wow! what a change!). Yesterday, after a very tough session at the gym, I enjoy an afternoon with my girls and we ending up at Culturando, a nice new meet-up place (I would call it wine-bar but I am not sure is the best way to define it) that is proposing the Italian aperifit in Limpesberg on Sunday evening. It is a great place indeed and I am already preparing another post for next week.

After couple of glasses of good wine, hubby and I were wandering around in the desperate search of a nice place for having dinner. We used the Explorator application – and except for some Asian places and some not updated restaurant choices, it looks like Luxembourg has curfew on Sunday night. We headed to the city center and due to the time, it was already  twenty past nine, most of the touristic places were already closed.

At the end, we tried at Brasserie Le Plëss, one of the restaurant in the building of the Place D’Armes hotel, and lucky enough they gave us a table.

I had some doubts before vising this spot, as we had a pleasant experience at the Cristallerie – the posh restaurant of the hotel – back in time, but awful time at the Cafe’ de Paris, the brasserie on the other side.

The menu list is not extremely extensive: there are some dishes to share (mainly charcuterie), some standard starters (like Caesar salad), and some classic, but not so much, main courses, including some shrimps pasta & angus burger. The list presents also a good choice of wines, each bottle can also be taken as single glass, and being a brasserie, this is highly appreciated, even if the price is relatively high (12 euro average for a glass).

I went for a filet de bar with cauliflower, while hubby chose the pork entrecote with mashed potatoes. The service was nice and relaxed and the ambience is soft, on the romantic side, with great view on the square and polished décor. The style is the same of the Place D’Armes hotel, but you don’t have the feeling to be in the hotel dining. Tables are pretty close one to the other, but when we arrived there it was almost empty, so we were alone on our side of the room. It could be indeed a bit annoying on a busy night.

The food was great, really: my bar was perfectly cooked, tender, with a perfect combination of taste of the two consistencies of cauliflower, a mousse that was almost divine and a seared one. The only thing I did not enjoy, the dish was decorated with pop-corns. They were delicious and they created a yummy ensemble, but their internal part was very very hard, and if you don’t pay attention you risk to crack your teeth.

The wine we chose was also great, it was bring with the bottle at the table even if we took only a glass and we concluded with an espresso – long, but extremely strong, I was not able to sleep tonight! – accompanied by some lovely madeleines.

The total spent for 2 glasses of wine, 2 main courses, 1 diet-coke, 2 espresso was 100 Euro. Not cheap , but commensurate to the style of the hotel.

We came to the Brasserie Le Plëss because it was the only place open on the square on Sunday evening and it resulted indeed in an extremely luscious choice in a refined environment, even if on the expensive side.

Check it out:

Brasserie Plëss
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