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!

Domaine Mathis Bastian, Remich, Luxembourg

Since arriving in Luxembourg, several years ago, I started to slowly improve my knowledge about wine – at least, I tried. I think that the main opportunity given by this country in the wine field is the coexistence of people of different nationalities who are bringing in their own culture including, thanks god, the wine.

As Italian, unfortunately, I had always this misconception about our supremacy and I have always considered other wine regions less attractive than mine. Honestly, recently, I had good demonstration this was not always the case.

Couple of weeks ago, in fact, we were invited for a private visit to the Domaine Mathis Bastian, located in Remich, on the Mosel valley. The village, if you don’t know – and it is pretty bad for you as it is a beautiful one -, it is less than 20 minutes driving from the city and offers several attractions, including boat cruises and a romantic path on the river.

To welcome M. and I at the Domaine we found Anouk Bastian, who lovely walked us though the vineyard before, inside the production line afterwards and at the wine tasting to conclude.

Discovering the Domaine Mathis Bastian was kind of surprising for us: it is a domaine with a history of 5 generations, which has an eradicated presence into the Luxembourg gastronomy, with their wines distributed among the most known upmarket restaurants in town. Luxembourgish wines are pretty celebrated among local people but for us expats are a bit a black hole.

Our arrival at the Domaine Mathis Bastian was breathtaking. The vineyard are uphill compared to downtown Remich and have a spectacular, fairy tale view, nothing to envy to some postcard landscapes from Champagne. The Domaine itself mixed old-fashion elements with artistic modern items: the idea of Anouk’s father, Mathis, who took personally care about the renewal work, was to keep the historical features of the main building, but mix it with linear, almost futurist elements of design. From the reception hall to the single tasting rooms, you can smell this great attention to details and this unconditional love for modern art items that appear here and there around the property. Most of these items have been designed specifically for the family and intend to give an idea of lights and comfort, you don’t find somewhere else.  The mixture between the old and the new, the arty and the lines, the dark wood and the wide windows creates a space deep, intense, enchanting. A place where you not only you come to satisfy your palate with the wine, but as well to entertain your soul.


Coming to the wines, we went through some of the most representative products of the Domaine Mathis Bastian. Their carte includes some very classic numbers, that are Luxemburger’s favorites, like the Cremant and the Riesling, and some fashionable, young and dynamic bottles, like Prelude Nanami, which name is an honour to the country, Japan, where the Auxerrois Mathis Bastian won the gold medal at Japan’s Sakura women wine award. Nanami in fact in Japanese means beautiful flowe or spirit of harmonies.

The wines we tasted and you can find below in the gallery had all the wow effect: I moved five hundreds miles away from my misconception about Luxembourgish wines. I found there intense notes, structured tastes, long lasting aromas.

My favorite number was definitely the Auxerrois 2015: while I have a strong inclination for “old” white, so I was not surprised to love the Riesling collection from 2005 and 2001, this wine enchanted my palate and I closed my eyes and pictured myself on a terrace, in the sunset, barefoot and happy. It is the perfect alternative to bubbles if you don’t like bubbles 🙂


Coming back to the Domaine, while their offer to the public is mainly concentrated on the wine – so they don’t offer in-house food service -, they are keen to organize private tasting events for limited groups to introduce you to the wines produced at the Domaine. Compared to other places I have visited, the characteristic that makes Mathis Bastian a must visit place is definitely the amazing conformation of the rooms. They offer not only a welcoming spaces for the tasting, but as well an incomparable view on the vineyard and a unique atmosphere. Said that, the tasting can be definitely combined with catering service and become real events, for families, companies or just friends.


The Domaine Mathis Bastian is open to the public from Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 12 and from 2 pm to 5.30 pm. Visits and tasting can be organized on appointment.

If you want to have a better chance to learn about the Domaine Mathis Bastian there are two occasions that cannot be missed:

– This week end the Domaine will held its Open Days, so it will be exceptionally open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday and you are welcome to pop in and try their delicious wines, from 2 pm to 6 pm. No invitation needed, nor entrance fee, so you just have to drive or catch a bus to Remich and show up!

– On November 16th, the Domaine will be present at the event Dubai meets Moselle at Cafesino, in Luxembourg City Centre, an exclusive event which will honor fine wines from Luxembourg, accompanied by oriental dishes. Few places left, hurry up to reserve yours!

Barefoot in Luxembourg will be at the Domaine on Saturday for the Open Days, so come and say hi. And if your week-end schedule is already full, don’t miss in the future the occasion to visit Domaine Mathis Bastian. You will fall in love with the elegant atmosphere surrounding the vineyard and will definitely be impressed by the charming taste of their wines, like we did!

 

 

Guest Blogger: Ross Campbell

Today on the blog we welcome a column by the guest blogger of the month, Ross Campbell. Ross relocated from US to Luxembourg one year ago and loves the life in the Grand-Duchy.

One Year Down and I’m Still In Awe of Luxembourg Food

As an American, I didn’t move to Luxembourg to save money, I moved there because I fell in love with the culture and especially the food. Not only are many of the food options in the city more delicious and seemingly made with more care than what you would find in American restaurant, but they are generally healthier as well.

Where to Eat in Luxembourg

I’ve been living in Luxembourg for about 14 months now, and over that course of time I’ve come to know a few different restaurants that I can always count on. They’re what I would call old favorites by now, and each one of them has two things in common. They’re reasonably priced and you can generally get a meal there for less than 20 Euro, and they offer excellent food made from quality ingredients.

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La Campagnola in Steinsel

This unassuming little Italian restaurant offers excellent tasting food at lower than average prices. It’s one of my favorite locations to eat at within the surrounding Luxembourg area, and I personally really enjoy the pizza here. For less than 20 euro you can get a good rich pizza with toppings of your choosing, and it’s particularly enjoyable when paired with a good quality wine, and there are many wine options available.

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La Riviera in Bereldange

This little gem of a restaurant offers up a mixed selection of food types. There are pizzas and other Italian dishes, but you’ll also find French-inspired options. The tartar here is especially good, but many of the pizzas are also enjoyable and there is always a good selection of fresh toppings to choose from, which keeps me coming back for more. If you’re a fan of Italian wine, this restaurant also has quite a bit to offer in that regard as well, with several good strong options for each dish that you decide on.

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La Romantica in Moutfort

Finally, there is La Romantica out in Moutfort. This is a place that I’ve come to love, despite the large crowds of people and the tightly spaced tables. This is one of the best places to go and get a huge pizza that is cooked within a fiery oven that you can enjoy with friends. There are tons of toppings to choose from, and they’re all nice and fresh and full of flavor. Most of the pizza options are excellent here, and you can also pick up your food to go if you would like.

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My Challenges Moving to Luxembourg

While I certainly can’t complain about the food or living conditions in Luxembourg (both of which are excellent) I can say that I wish the overall process of getting set up here was as simple as finding the amazing restaurants throughout the area. I struggled through the Visa process, as many non-student Americans will when moving to Europe. I had to get my permit within 90 days and I had to show them I was working and could provide for myself adequately financially and I also had to prove who I was by showing my passport, my health certificate showing my recent vaccinations and a lease contract provided by my new landlord. This was all handled through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

I didn’t want to leave behind my small household property including my clothing, computer, books and other personal items so I had them boxed and shipped in the cargo area of the plane to accompany me when I arrived. My car took a little more effort as I had to have it shipped with an international car shipping company, A-1 Auto Transport, Inc., and I paid just under $3800 USD to have it shipped overseas and then transported by land to my new home in Luxembourg. When you bring a car to Luxembourg, you must provide paperwork including the registration, title, permit of residency and a passport to show you are the actual owner. It is time consuming, but having your own car here is a great convenience when you want to travel or sight-see once you arrive.

If you’re a foodie like I am, there’s really no place that can come close to comparison to Luxembourg, at least no place I’ve been to and I have traveled extensively for quite a few years. I encourage you to come and visit and try eating at a variety of restaurants to get a feel for the area. Sure, you may find the cost of living a little higher than in the U.S., but there is a lot to love about this cultured city.

 

If you wish to participate to the guest blogger column, feel free to send an email to Barefoot in Luxembourg!