What to do: Gare – Station

From this Friday on, another new monthly series is going to start on Barefoot in Luxembourg about best recommendations for each area of the city – and eventually also out of the city sooner or later. I based my suggestion on what I am doing normally and on my favorite places.

Feel free to comment with your own suggestions, I am always happy to know new places!

I am starting with the Gare – Station area, as my office is just overlooking one of the most busy street of the city and it is here that, normally, I spend most of my time when in town.

Where to go when you crave sweets or you are meeting your bestie after some shopping:
Kathy’s Deli & Cupcakery
I love this place for two reasons: first, you can go there whatever time of the day it is. For an overindulging breakfast, for a colorful lunch, for an afternoon meeting with tea and cookies or Saturday brunch . Secondly, it is the only place where I fancy having cupcakes. I tend to eat not too many sweets, because I don’t really like cakes, biscuits, macarons (sorry!) and I am more a burger and chips girl, but Kathy’s cupcakes are just perfect. They have lovely combinations (smors are my best!) and they are not soo sweet. Also: non-lactose milks – and soya, rice, etc – available for your drinks!
Casa Fabiana
Even if I am not very much into this restaurant for lunch, I love the tea room settings and above all on Saturdays it is perfect for a coffee break, a snack and some chats. Bonus point: very amiable service.

Where to go for your girls’ lunch
Ekxi
When my sister was working in my same building, this was our usual lunch place. I love the fact you can choose between several different type of foods: from focaccia and lasagna, to soups, to sandwiches to salads. And everything is “natural”, with ingredients well written so whatever allergy or food preference you have you shouldn’t ask twice the waiter. My favorite dish there is the Thai Spicy Soup with mushrooms , they also have pretty good deals for lunch (salad, sandwich and drink for 8,40 Euro) and if you are in a hurry, the fruit-shake with watermelon and mint is just delicious.
Sushi and More
I started to hate sushi chains when I was in London, as I normally find the food there extremely cheap and insipid, and the opening of Sushi Shop in Luxembourg couldn’t help me to change my feelings – even it worse them. Sushi and More is a quite different story, as they have some well presented sushi, tasty, and the combinations for lunch (sushi box plus salad plus soup) are all for 11.20 Euro. They have also several “out of menu” items while my beloved box is the chirashi one. The location is clean and waiters are smiling and kind. Not for a date, but definitely worth a good lunch.
Sushi Ogasang
Talking about good deals, Sushi Ogasang is a more refined place – I keep it normally for my “special” lunches. They have several lunch bento box formulas (around 14 Euros), including a vegetarian one, and, boys will be boys, an All-you-can-eat trail (15 euros for lunch, 22 euros in the evening).

Where to go when you want to have shopping but you don’t know what you want to buy
Hema
When I enter in Hema, normally I feel the same then when going to Ikea. I know I have to buy only a small thing (like the cleanser for my contacts) but I end up always with my bag full of stupid things. In fact I think Hema is helpful in two ways: for cheap home things (we bought there our curtains, but they have also dishes, small electro stuff, towels) or for totally silly compulsive items, like colored notepads, cake kits, gardener tools, candles. And… have you ever tried Hema cookies?

Where to go when you need to shop for a dinner date
La Pause du Gourmet
Here at La Pause du Gourmet not only you can have delicious lunches (not on budget), refined wine tastings or organize your evening events (business nights, birthdays, dinners), but also buying amazing wines, cheese and charcuterie. My favorite is the truffle cheese (prepared with truffle bits, not just aroma) and the pesto one. Hubby is a fan of all the Italian charcuterie, including the Colonnata lard.

Where to go when it is Sunday afternoon, your fridge is empty and you girlfriend is coming to your place
Monoprix
Monoprix is open until 7 pm on Sundays (all Sundays, not only those of city-shopping) They have great fruit and vegetables selection, wines and champagne, fresh bread and croissants, meat, cheese, cleaning stuff and many more other products – and your final bill will be lower than driving to the next petrol station to buy some last-minute beef filet , Cabernet and chips.

Where to go for a quiet drink with your colleagues

Hotel Park Inn
I know pretty well the station area is not popular among professional expats and Luxembourgers. It could happen anyway that you want to stop by the way for a drink, so, the Hotel Park Inn is definitely the best place to go for me. The ambience is swanky but not posh (forget Sofitel!), the service friendly and the prices reasonable. Above all, you are on the first floor over Avenue de La Gare, so you can enjoy the chaos without being in it middle. Recommended for an after-work drinks.

Where to go for a romantic dinner date
Taj Mahal (on budget)
Le Chatelet (elegant)

Where to go for a dinner/drink with a buddy
La Bella Napoli
They
 offer a very good Italian style tiny pizza at reasonable price – I am not a fan of their other dishes and I would recommend personally to go there only for the pizza, but feel free to try and let me know! The environment is a bit messy but pleasant, with efficient service. If you stick to the pizza and beer menu, it is very reasonable priced.
QG
For having a beer at QG, you definitely do not need to dress up. They have plenty of space for chatting, a terrace, a pool table and they are open until 3 am over week-ends. It is not a fashionable place, but it is kind of place where you can spend a funny evening with your friends without being bothered about the surroundings. I love their Bloody Mary.

I noted a couple of new places open their doors in the area recently but haven’t had a chance to try them yet.. so stay tuned for some further updated, gonna test them during next weeks 🙂

Friday evening: a (posh) idea for after-work drinks, Vinoteca, Luxembourg

In Luxembourg there are just few months to enjoy the open air life, therefore during summer period I always try to arrange my evening in some garden or terrace. I talked already about it on the blog and you know there are several restaurants and bars in the city that offer breathtaking panoramas.

One of the best bar with view, for a quiet ad intense after-work, is definitely the Vinoteca – that is located behind the Palais and well hidden through ancient archways. This is the kind of place I tend to visit only during summer for being on the terrace, as I really don’t like the interior design.

I arranged for drinks with a friend on a Friday evening, some weeks ago and we had pleasant time.

After the pictures, some pro and con of this place.

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Things I loved about Vinoteca:

  • The location. Not to mention the amazing view, I also like the kind of atmosphere this place has. It is never too crowed, it is a bit far from the movida area of the city, so perfect if you, like me, are catching up with a friend and you want to talk quietly.
  • The service. I booked a table in the afternoon (highly recommended) and they were quick and nice in their replies. The waiter who was serving has had a big smile, was calling me by name even if it was long time I did not visit the place and was always there to help.
  • The quality of the products. Essentially it is not a place for a cheap drink, but you get the quality for what you are paying for. They have a good selection of wines, cold dishes to share and even hot dishes if you fancy having dinner.

Things I liked a bit less:

  • The wine approach. You can have glass, big glass, half pitcher o bottle for selected wines. As we were not sure how long we wanted to stay, we started with half pitcher of one of the most expensive wines they have. If I am paying 60 euro for half a bottle, I would expect at least that you fill up the pitcher showing me the bottle. We got directly the pitcher taken to the table, so – eventually – it could have been whatever wine inside. This was not the case – because the wine was great – but if I would expect a different level of service.
  • The charcuterie platter. They have different dishes with cheese, ham, charcuterie, so we decided to go for a mixed one for having a bit of everything. When the platter arrived, it was actually composed only by two kinds of salami and one of pancetta. We would expect at least one portion of ham. My friend does not eat salami, so we ended up leaving half of the platter.

To sum up, Vinoteca has a lovely terrace perfect for after-work drinks. The quality of the wine and of the food is pretty high, as well as the final bill. I would recommend it for a quiet talk with a friend, for a date with someone you want to impress or for a special celebration.

Business as usual – L’Observatoire opening

Let’s start like that: sometimes is really nice dressing up a bit and have a poshy night. And also it is really admirable they changed the setting of the former Coco Mango Sofitel  bar, as in the last occasions we have been there it was really painful having a pleasant evening without feeling a bit too stressed (people surrounding your table, long queues at the bar just in front of the entrance, temperature moving from Luxembourg to Sahara desert after half hour there..). So this is a nice beginning.

Moreover: Ciceron Events are always extremely funny, Livio is a great host, cool people, old school music, business as usual, as we always say.

Now. The new L’Observatoire should have taken the good things about Coco Mango and changed those bad.

It was not exactly like that. The setting of the space changed, we said, yes. Now the bar is looking over the valley (remember, we are at the 8th floor and without fog you have the best view in Luxembourg probably) and it moved a bit farer from the entrance, so people queuing for getting their cocktails are not blocking those just arrived. The colors are always a bit flashy (and trashy) but this is a choice, and it is not bad definitely.

What definitely was bad was the service and the attitude of the night: the event was supposed to start at 6 pm (well, it is called “afterworks”) and have finger food from 7 pm to 9.30 pm – based on FB event description. We got there are 6.20 and we were rudely blocked in the elevator as the bar was not yet ready “and the event starts at 7 pm”. When we tried to say “well, the FB invitation was saying something else” we were replied pretty boorishly, again, and we were asked to wait in the hall. They allowed us, finally, to get in only 5 minutes past 7 …

The “finger food” was a small table at the entrance filled with sandwiches (mozzarella & nuts, salmon, cream cheese and ham) and sweets, a lot of sweets (candies, gummies, chupachups..). The food itself was barely enough for 15 people and 5 minutes before 8 pm everything was removed.

Coming back to us. We arrived then. We got our table and as we were still waiting for friends we wanted only a cocktail or a glass of wine. We asked for the list of drinks and the waiter told us “I am the list, as we don’t have one” – later during the evening we discovered that they had one actually….. Not something you expect from a 5 stars bar. Then it was remarked that we could order only bottles at the table – what? – and when we noted we were just two of us they offered us a glass of (bad) wine. We finally ordered a bottle of wine (from the restaurant list) and we continue drinking the same wine through the evening (4, 5 bottles) until a certain point when the “boss waiter” told us they finished that one and he proposed us something more expensive. I told him as it is not my fault that they finished the wine we were drinking, he should have offered us the other he proposed but at the same price of the initial one (15 euro difference, honestly). He said “I am going to check” and magically he appeared back with the initial bottle of Macon we were drinking… and we continue to drink again and again… Really? You want to cheat on me pretending my wine is over to propose me another more expensive bottle?

Last word of the night: overpriced. I can understand, as said, you are a 5 stars hotel bar, but you are not in the city center and people have to come specially to your location.. so, weren’t prices before not high enough? Cremant Bernard Massard passed from 35 euro to 68 euro… (yes, the bottle you find for 8 euro at the supermarket). Vodka passed from 100 euro to 150.. Glass of wine is in average 15 euro and the cheapest wine bottle is about 45 euro. It was possible to order a dish with 3 overfried frozen shrimps and 3 oily chicken brochettes for the nice price of 25 euros. Too much, above all for the shitty (ops..) service we had. Just say, the ordinary waiters were more than nice, always smiling and precise. The one that was playing the boss was more interested to have fun himself than to clients  and was bouncing around with very vain attitude.

I have to say. We had a great night, the new bar is better looking, but the price change was unexpected and non-justified and does not include a better related service. Maybe we will give it a second chance.

Check it out:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coco-Mango-Sofitel-Luxembourg/123002021108955

40, Boulevard d Avranches
Luxembourg, Luxembourg

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