Maison Steffen: where good food matters

Established in 1989 in Steinfort, Luxembourg, Maison Steffen is, without a doubt, one of the trendiest places to go grocery shopping when you are looking for a boucherie, a shop to get some good quality meat and cold cuts. Barefoot in Luxembourg was invited to the re-opening of Maison Steffen’s oldest boutique in Steinfort and it was a great occasion to discover more about this brand!

The boucherie itself was recently renovated and has now a completely different look. In my opinion, it’s very inviting as one of its walls facing the street is made entirely out of glass and lets a lot of light in. The interior of the butchery, is however, kept rustic, simple and harmonic; there are some sausages and cold cuts hanging and old butchery equipment is also present. When it comes to the selection of their products, you can choose from raw meats to ready to make meals and even catering options.

After visiting the shop, the night continued at another venue where we were taken by a shuttle bus. At this event hall, we were offered drinks followed by a short promo movie explaining the history and the current status of the shop. When the clip was finished, the food buffet was opened and we had a chance to sample many different dishes, that were made by using products available for purchase at the stores. Most of the dishes were very typical Luxembourgish dishes and small enough so I could try several of them – all delicious!


Overall, my experience at Maison Steffen was great and I was left with a very positive feeling about the shop; it is definitely worth visiting if you happen to find yourself in Steinfort. For those who live in Luxembourg city or other parts of this massive country, you have an option to check their other shops in Cents, Petange, Esch-sur-Alzette or Dudelange. Exact addresses and opening hours can be found on their website. Maison Steffen also owns a restaurant La Table de Frank, located in Steinfort.

Introduction to Lebanese: Phenicia, Luxembourg

Among the guidelines for a Friday night partying, I have the rule of not having a proper dinner. It does not mean really skipping the eating part in favor of alcohol (I am too old for this shit!), but that definitely I cannot have a 4-courses meal before going out as otherwise I would rather fell asleep (age has its contribution also on this side).

So on a Friday night, Jenni and I decided to try Phenicia, a corner of Lebanon just off Place de Paris (here we are, once again!).

We decided not to book in advance as the place often looked empty from outside, but once inside we realized the tables on view on the main window are only a small part of those inside and the restaurant is pretty big – and it was pretty full!

The decorations are lovely – they create a nice, exotic atmosphere without being cheesy. We were welcomed at the entrance and accommodated to a table at the very back of the room, where most of the people were seating.

For that night, the restaurant offered a “all-you-can-eat” buffet or a la carte dinner. We opted for a la carte formula. I ordered an aperitif of the house (a mix between a sweet syrup and Lebanese cremant, pleasant and similar to our Kir Royal) while Jenni had only water.

While the menu offered various fixed price combinations and a great choice of main dishes, we decided to stay on the mezze (small dishes to share) in order, as said, to have a kind of light dinner.

We ordered Baba Ghanouj (grilled eggplants pure’, onions, tomato and pepper), Falafel(fried chickpeas nuggets), Jobneh (fried cheese) and Fatayer with Spinach (an oven-baked pastry stuffed with spinach and sumac). The mezze were accompanied by two portions of bread (and we ordered a third one later during the meal).

We drank half a bottle of enjoyable Lebanese Ksara.

We concluded with two digestif (one Baileys and one Cognac) and theoretically with a  Lebanese coffee that never came to our table.

After the pictures, you will find more about what I enjoyed of our dinner at Phenicia.

What I liked about Phenicia:

  • The restaurant has a great settings: the location, the decorations, the background music, everything contributes to create an amazing atmosphere, where, for the time of your meal, you forget about being simply in Luxembourg.
  • The food we had was amazing: I was particularly surprised by the falafel (I am a fan, I do them myself as well so I was impressed by their taste!) and by the spinach and sumac pastry (on the opposite, I am not a fan of this kind of pastry and this one was was indeed delicious). Everything tasted very fresh and home made.
  • The wine was also a positive discovery: we were a bit skeptical about trying a Lebanese wine, indeed it was good. Even if we ordered only half liter, it was taken with the full bottle at the table and opened there.
  • Service was a bit a hit-and-miss. For some aspects it was great. We were explained the dishes in details, we were suggested the aperitif and the wine and as well for the digestive we received some suggestions. Staff was really polite and accommodating toward our requests. At the same time, there were some moments we have been totally forgotten (like when I wanted to order some more bread *rolling eyes*) or our requests were ignored (coffee asked twice and never arrived) and bill took ages to get to our table.

What I liked a bit less about Phenicia:

  • Except the rolling coaster service, the only slightly negative point on my side was the bill. At the end we had only some vegetarian starters and half a bottle of wine and we ended up paying 90 Eur in total (45 Eur each). While the food was great and we had good time, I still feel we slightly overpaid for what we got. At the same time, the restaurant offers several fixed combination (starter plus main or tasting of starters) so you can keep you bill under control if you want to.

In conclusion: I liked our dinner at Phenicia. While the service might be improved, the ambience is great and the food was fresh and tasty. The place is perfect for a romantic date or an exotic business dinner, but not the restaurant to visit if you are on a budget. I will come back to try more dishes as those we had very definitely yummy!

 

 

Bouncewear: where basketball enthusiasts meet

On Saturday September 16th , Bouncewear opened its first store in Luxembourg near the station in Dommeldange .  The location, while a bit out of the city centre, is easy reachable and well connected.

The weather wasn’t the best but the store was nevertheless busy with clients who wanted to see what Bouncewear was all about.

Bouncewear is a Belgian retail chain specialized in pure basketball selling everything related to the sport: shirts, hoodies, footwear, basket balls and even books and accessories. Basically everything you can think of in connection with playing basketball.

On the opening day, they had a food truck serving Italian style pizza slices and pasta boxes with some different beverages. I don’t think the salesclerks had much free time to kill during the time I was there as many customers required their attention and assistance and were really interested in the products. I liked the interior design of the shop because it has lots of free space so the store wouldn’t feel too packed even if there were plenty of people at the same time. Also the articles of clothing are hang neatly and not squeezed close to one another as opposed to many cheap retail chains.

I think this shop will cater the needs of many basketball players and hopefully even encourage people for a more fit lifestyle!


Bouncewear

Address
2, rue Nennig
L-2214 Dommeldange / Luxembourg

Opening Hours
Monday:  closed
Tuesday to Friday:  11h – 18h
Saturday:  10h – 18h
Sunday: closed

 

Bee Famous: Tasty, Affordable and Organic Wine Available at Auchan’s

As autumn is approaching, Barefoot in Luxembourg was invited for a wine tasting at Beef-Bar at Auchan’s to have a sneak peak of the shop’s new wine season range. “Foire Aux Vins” is in fact an annual event taking place in September ( this year from September 20th to October 3rd) in several supermarkets in Luxembourg, including Auchan, where winemakers introduce new wines and also offer special deals for products already on the shelves. You can check out Auchan’s website for more information about products and discounts.

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I had a pleasure to get to know Bee Famous, an organic wine brand from South France. I have shared my impressions below.

 

White wines:
Bee Famous Organic Cévennes

  • Fresh and fruity
  • Excellent choice with spicy and Asian food

Bee Famous Organic Chardonnay

  • Very rounded, well structured, crispy
  • Goes well with grilled fish, and sushi

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Bee Famous Organic Viognier

  • Rounded, easy to drink
  • Great for appetzers and cheese

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Bee Famous Organic Sauvignon

  • crispy, quite strong after-taste of blackcurrant
  • To be paired with goat cheese salad or appetizers

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Red wines:
Bee Famous Organic Syrah

  • Fruity, spicy
  • Try it with mediterranean or oriental food, mild cheese or drink it as aperitif

Bee Famous Organic 2015 Cevennes

  • Complex, fruity, spicy, hint of pepper
  • Herbs of Provence
  • Perfect form meat dishes, especially pork and chicken

Bee Famous Organic AOP Costières de Nime Sans Sulfites

  • No sulfites; this wine is recommended to be drank within 1-2 years
  • Try with pork, paella or Mediterranean cuisine

Bee Famous Côtes du Rhône 2016

  • Round, long, well structured
  • Serve it with a selection of chacuterie or other meat dishes

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Bee Famous Côtes du Rhône Plain de Dieu

  • Plain, easy
  • Goes well with chocolate dessert, meat, lamb, pork, steaks

Bee Famous Organic Languedoc Rouge 2013

  • Elegant, silky structure
  • Great with ratatouille

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The best secret terrace, La Grappe D’Or, Luxembourg City

I waited so much to publish this post that it is almost a throw-back, but I got some serious ethic dilemmas regarding if to share one of my favorite summer places. Read more below…

On the first real day of spring, I could not miss the opportunity to book at my favorite terrace in town. Actually, I have to say, this is one of the times writing a review was really difficult for me and took ages to publish – I was trying to force myself doing it but I actually did’t want to do it!!! The reason is because this restaurant is my very “secret summer place” and it is not too much famous… I read on Facebook forums a lot of questions and articles about the “best terrace” in Luxembourg and I have never mentioned it – because I am too afraid that, if it became popular, I will have to book too much in advance – not to mention I don’t really like crowded places..

Anyway – I made an exception for my partner in crime and we headed to La Grappe D’Or, in Dommeldange, for a special celebration – my new job, the real one 😛

As said, the restaurant is located off the beaten tracks of the usual restaurants in Luxembourg, hidden in a residential area up the hill in Dommeldange. The “winter” indoor part is not fancy at all (at least, not for me..), just too similar to several Portuguese old fashion restaurants you might find in town. Indeed the very reason for coming here is the amazing terrace, that offers you a spectacular view of the sunset over Luxembourg.

We arrived there around 8.30ish, just in time to enjoy it, and start our dinner with a glass of cava. The menu is Portuguese, offers both meat and fish – and some veggie choices as well – but personally once here I always ended up on fish.

I had a tuna carpaccio with truffle while M. went for a codfish and shrimps mixed starter. To follow, I had marinated codfish with shrimps while he went for “gambas flambe'”. We dined drinking one of my favorite Portuguese wines, Esporao Reserva, and concluded with a glass – or maybe two, as usual – of Portuguese grappa.

Enjoy the pictures of our dinner – while imagining already the special person you want to take there ❤ – followed by my general impressions of La Grappe D’Or.

 

What I loved about La Grappe D’Or:

  • Ca va sans dire, the view is the main reason to visit La Grappe D’Or. Be sure to reserve a table like ours, on the balcony – those internally have a less incredible view -. This is definitely one of the most romantic view you can find in Luxembourg city for me.
  • The service is very smart and friendly – that South-European style all smile and laugh and small jokes.
  • Even if you allow yourself to indulge, the total bill will never be scary. We had aperitif, two starters, two mains, one of the best wines on the card, coffee, digestif and the total bill read slightly more than 100 euro in total. Exceptionally fair.

 

What I liked a bit less about La Grappe D’Or:

  • Let’s be honest: would I come here to eat if the restaurant had not this incredible view? No, I won’t. But while the food is not exceptional – average quality, informal presentation, pretty strong tastes tending to cover the main ingredients (like the oil on my carpaccio or the sauce on the codfish) at the same time it is not that bad. Fair. Portions are reasonable, tastes leave a good memories on your palate and the choice is quite good. At the end the combination between an amazing view, a decent menu and quite cheap prices (in terms of Luxembourg standards) is a win win.

 

In conclusion: if you want to have a romantic date in Luxembourg with a reasonable budget and your other half does not have a Michelin star background, there is no better place of the lovely La Grappe D’Or, the best view in Luxembourg. I regret already sharing it with you – but now it is too late 😛

An easy night out: Brooklyn Bar, Luxembourg City

Last week we had finally the opportunity to visit Brooklyn Bar, a cozy new American bar that opened last year in avenue de La Gare. The occasion was a live show of my friends’ duo, On Two Feet, who were playing there on a Friday night.
Together with F. we decided then to book for dinner ahead the event: the restaurant has a very simple system of reservation online, valid as well for the same day, and we got a very quick confirmation via email.

We got to Brooklyn around 8 pm – watch out, the parking situation is quite tragic at the moment in the area and you might want to get there via public transportation – bus n.3 stops just on the corner.

The atmosphere were very warm and friendly: we were reserved a nice table on the windows, and started our evening with soft drinks and beers. We ordered a starter to share (“Partners in crime”), composed by chicken wings, nachos, mozzarella stick and much more. The dish was pretty big and even if some products were clearly frozen, the quality was good. We continued with two burgers, prepared with ciabatta bun and with gorgonzola cheese and Parma ham topping. We concluded with coffee and moved then to drinks while listening to the music show and being joined by other friends.

Pictures of our dinners and couple of the live show – from Brooklyn fan page on FB – followed by my impressions.

What I liked about Brooklyn bar:

  • I loved the easy going atmosphere and the variegate client targets. This is definitely the place you come straight from work in your suit or when you don’t want to dress up with trainers and t-shirt.
  • There is a very good selections of drinks – if you come in just for a drink – and the food menu is also interesting – starters, burgers, meat and veggie dishes, anything sophisticated but the care about the food was impressive and my burger was OMG!
  • The bill comes very fair compared to other lookalike places in the city – being there from 8 pm to closing at 1 am, had friend joining for drinks and spent around 100 euro for all the table (food for 2 and drinks for 4).

What I liked a bit less about Brooklyn bar:

  • As said, the mood of the place is really cool but accessible hence the service is pretty much relaxed. Might not be the right place if you are in a hurry.

 

In conclusion: Brooklyn bar is the perfect place for an easy night with friends – they have live music shows, great drinks selection and their burgers are definitely worth a try. Highly recommended and will come back soon!

Jenni’s Corner: Apres-Ski with Janette

In terms of weather, March 9th was a perfect day for the women’s magazine Janette to organize an After-ski themed after-work event. It wasn’t too cold to stay outside and the week long rain had finally stopped.
The event took place outside Vinoteca under a huge portable roof which protected us from the cold winter wind. Under the roof, there was an outside bar that sold mainly wine but also some other drinks – they went very well together with a nice selection of different Swiss Cheese that was served on a wooden table on the other corner of the tent.

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I arrived at the venue approximately an hour after the event had started and I noticed that the place was very packed. Small bar tables were surrounded by people who chitchatted with each other while they sipped wine and dipped pieces of bread in melted cheese. Many people praised the quality of cheese fondues and also liked the easy-going music that the live DJ was playing.

I found that the event was perfectly suited for the season and was very well set up. People seemed to be having a good time by posing in front a camera and the place was full of laughter and happiness. The only improvement point would be to think about a bigger location due to the great number of people participating the after-work.

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Thanks Janette for the invitation! I met many people I knew and the alpine like atmosphere made the event very successful!

 

 

Nemo’s, Kirchberg, Luxembourg City

After long time, last week was finally the time to go to the movies again. I had a girls night with a friend and we decided to go to watch the new “50 shades”. I was a bit skeptical as I was very deluded by the first one of the series but I have to say this one, to me, was definitely better. Not an intellectual movie, for sure, but at least a better plot and some very romantic bits (yes, I cried).

After the movie, we decided to stop at Utopolis for dinner and we headed to Nemo’s, a small Japanese restaurant. It was full being a Saturday night and we did not reserve ahead, but they were anyway able to find us a small table. I ordered once from them online and the sushi was not very good – but it was already couple of years ago, so I wanted to give them another try.

The service was informal and pretty fast, we went for a beer and a glass of wine and ordered a Sushi Sashimi Combo. The platter was quite good for sharing – I had a huge box of pop-corn during the movie – for more consistent appetites it would definitely be better order the bigger combinations

Couple of pictures of our dinner and my considerations about the night.

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What I liked about Nemo’s:

– It was a very good after-movie solution: fast and smiling service, nice food combinations, comfortable location.
– Our sushi sashimi combo was a good portion to share, the fish was fresh and well prepared and the variety was impressive for such small platter.
– The price was more than fair (less than 30 euro each for two drinks, the sushi platter, coffee and sake).

What I liked a bit less about Nemo’s:

– Indeed, being in the middle of the Utopolis and with clear windows, the location is definitely not fashion and a bit chaotic. I would not consider to visit it on purposes, but this is indeed the best after-movie solution for me.

In conclusion: Sushi at Nemo’s was pretty good. If you are around Kirchberg or at the movies and you want to have some nice Japanese food, this is definitely a recommended informal place for me.

 

Restaurant Essenza, Luxembourg City

After the Christmas break, we decided to have a reunion with my girlfriends and arrange a fancy dinner in town to celebrate New Year and couple of other various personal achievements.
We booked at “Essenza“, the Italian restaurant upstairs Apoteca bar, in the very city center: I had always been extremely satisfied of all my dinners there, but recently I was missing from the place since my bacherolette party in 2014. Good timing for a come back 🙂

We got to the restaurant slightly in delay compared to the reserved time, after having advised, due to the crazy traffic and icy roads. Once arrived, we waited good ten minutes at the entrance, as nobody was in the reception area. We decided then to check upstairs and the waitress welcomed us to our table.

We started with an aperitif while waiting for the crew to be completed and we decided then to go for a fish dinner. I had Tuna Carpaccio with Bottarga as starter and Crumbs-Bread Shrimps with Orange as main. Most of my friends went for the mixed carpaccio platter as starter and the tuna tataki as main.

We had a decent Sicilian wine during the dinner and we concluded with some mirto and biscuits offered by the house.

Some pictures of our dinner followed by my feelings about the night.

What I liked about Essenza:

  • The location is really fancy – perfect either for a reunion with friends or for a romantic date. The candle lights are giving a very special mood to the rooms.
  • Dishes presentation is very appealing, the kind of you say “wow” when the plat arrives at the table.

What I did not like about Essenza:

  • Unfortunately, food was not good at all: the presentation was giving a lot of expectations that remained poorly deluded. My carpaccio was extremely watery – you cannot even feel the fish – while the gambas were badly defrozen. Potatoes, vegetables, amuse bouche, everything was missing of taste, like ingredients were only nicely assembled for the presentation and not for the palate. Everybody had the same feeling: dishes were “fine” but not delicious as we remember them to be. Without being arrogant, I would say you can get a better level at home, with supermarket ingredients.

In conclusion: I was really looking forward to come back to Essenza after long time, but my expectations were not satisfied. I remember it to be a very good Italian fish restaurant in town and now I would say it is on the average level, pricey side (we spent 62 euro each). While the location has lots of atmosphere and presentation of dishes was amazing, the food failed to impress us. Hope it was just a bad night for them.

L’Entracte, Strassen, Luxembourg

On Monday night we visited to the newly-opened Christmas market at the Grund. The space is really limited compared to the one in the very city center, half a dozen stands, but the atmosphere is really cozy, calmer and more relaxed. I really like the Christmas Market in town, but during pick-hours it might be a bit frustrating having a walk around 🙂

After couple of hot wines, we wanted to have some typical food but the temperature was definitely not helping, being still with office clothes, so we decided to change the plans and move to a warmer place. We fancied some cheese dish similar to the ones you can have at the market, but apparently on Monday night it was pretty difficult to find a place open (Edelweiss in Bridel and the Swiss Chalet at Sobogusto are closed).

At the end we decided to try L’Entracte restaurant in Strassen. I was at the one in the city center couple of years ago and it was an horrible experience, the ugliest tourist trap I’ve found myself in in ages.

The restaurant in Strassen is located on the main Route D’Arlon, just a block before Belle Etoile mall. The decorations are informal but cozy and the atmosphere at the entrance was nice.

After a brief wait, we were allocated on a nice table on the back room – the restaurant at 9 pm was almost empty, only a big table in our same room – and handled the menu.

We went straight to the traditional raclette and a bottle of Montepulciano, that unfortunately was not available, so we moved to a South-West French wine.

Some pictures of our dinner and my personal impressions.

What I liked about L’Entracte:

  • The raclette was OMG: cheese was super nice, melting perfectly and the sides were pretty good as well – we had potatoes, mixed cold cuts, salad and bread – and well presented. The quantity is fair and the quality of the food was definitely premium.
  • The menu offers several appealing choices, including cheese fondue (also with mushrooms), mixed raclette, pierrade and a good choice of meat dishes.
  • Except for the quite long wait at the entrance, the service was nice. Our waitress came to check on us couple of times to see if we were fine and we were left finishing our dinner even if we were the last clients and it was closing time. As we had only raclette,coffee and wine, we were offered on the bill a bottle of water we took.

What I liked less about L’Entracte:

  • As said, the food was good and the portion fair, but still I had the impression we slightly overpaid our dish. The traditional raclette was 29 euro per person (and you can order for a minimum of 2) as well as the fondue, couple of euro more than most of other places in Luxembourg, located in fancier settings. On the wine list as well, cheapest wines were starting around 30 euro and there was no “house wine” option. Having a full dinner, with starter or dessert, a more decent wine compared to the one we took and some further drinks, will bring the bill to an amount not very aligned to the kind of location.

In conclusion: Our raclette dinner at L’Entracte in Strassen was a bit pricey but nice. I will definitely come back to try as well as the fondue, as the cheese was delicious and the service lovely. As the restaurant is quite big and informal, I would definitely recommend it for friends gathering and office dinners.