Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 20 July 2010

Whenever Bruce has been on tour, some of my best shows has often been the two-nighters. The second night being always even better than the first night. As  mentioned in my last post, I was generously invited by Arnaud Magnier to come back the day after to taste his go at a Paella. I guess one would call it Paella Revisited.  So this was a the second “show” in two days, and as with Bruce, Arnaud managed to also score higher on the second date.

I brought both the boys, they behaved to the liking of their daddy, even without the Nintendo, though Oscar had to borrow my I-phone towards the end of meal.

Oscar....

and Emil...

The service being as good as it gets. Alex, the Spanish waiter (Yes – he´s from Barcelona – but apart from that no compare to Manuel from Fawlty Towers) – even accompanied Emil to the toilet, while I could continue eating.…nice touch Alex, thanks.

From the right, Zucchini creme, Consome and beef with pasta...

Marinated saumon with tartare of saumon...

Beautiful, both the arrangement, almost like eating a huge flower…but also the delicate taste, Salmon as good as it gets. 9,5p

The Paella a la Arnauld

Looks slightly different than mine. The taste was wonderful, rich of safran (I love safran)…the salad basket on top was filled with delicate flesh of roasted red peppers and calamares. Absoutely lovely. 9p

I asked for a bottle of white, gave some suggestions…but got something else….a white Roussilion I think,-  almost finished the bottle. Must have been a nice one. The reason for neglicting my own wine ideas turned out to be – I was invited. And that was the response I got when asking for the bill. I like that. Arnaud was busy, but one big smile when I passed the kitchen to say thank you. I repeat it here gladly. Thank you to Arnaud and his team. I wont be back today, but soon.

My rating for this visit:

My rating for this visit: Food 9 (10), Ambience 4,5 (5) and service 5 (5)  Total score 18,5 (20)

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Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 19 July 2010

So, the school´s out for summer….so today Emil and I decided to pay our friends at Clairefontaine a visit. We took a small stroll through the sunny streets of Luxembourg. We have 30 degrees and a clear blue sky.

This was our route…

The playground

Place Clairefontaine

..with the monument of G.D. Charlotte

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We arrived at Restaurant Clairefontaine, and wine and food was ordered…

Tokaji dry Oremus, Hungary

3 amuses, Beef/Mustard, Cabillaud -- and Lamb

Variations of Tomato

Emil opted for the pasta, which came with Ketchup, Bolognese and Parmesan

Off to show Maitre Didier his artistic efforts....

Lobster wrapped in bacon - with stuffed zucchini flowers on parsley sauce

Sweets...

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Before leaving we were invited back tomorrow – with a glimpse of this “Paella revisited” from the kithen….”You are invited” – said Arnaud, and who can say no to that…see you tomorrow friends.

Paella revisited

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Conclusion

Being a regular here, I often tend to be sometimes too hard and sometimes too soft in my review. On the last visit we had among the best dishes ever in Luxembourg, a Japanese inspired fish dish and a beef dish. Except for the fact that they both were very dry, a bit too dry. That little detail, the lack of a litlle more liquid drew the perfect dish down to a very good dish.

On this visit the tomato starter was very nice, the gazpacho perfect, the avocado creme a bit too dominant. The lobster this time had problems keeping up with the very rich parsley sauce. The cooking of the lobster with the bacon perfect.

I love the terasse, one of the most quiet spots for terrasse dining in Luxembourg. No traffic, and no hectic waitering. Thanks for having us guys.

My rating for this visit: Food 8 (10), Ambience 5 (5) and service 4,5 (5)  Total score 17,5 (20)

Babette, Denmark – November 2009

Restaurant Babette is situated on the outskirts of Vordingborg, some 45 min, south of Copenhagen. They offer fantastic quality at relatively small prices. A few years ago they also opened a small brasserie at harbour side in Vordingborg. In my opinion Restaurant Babette is among the most honest food you get in Denmark, with no compromise to the quality of the products used.

Vivi Schou the head chef has recently been awarded the Danish Champagnepris for her cooking and contribution to the Danish gastro-scene, and head waiter /owner / host Henrik Pedersen was voted best of his kind in 2007.

You may choose a full menu (6 dishes) – or you may pick 3, 4 or 5 as you like. It is priced at 60-80 eur, the lunch menu even a bit cheaper as far as I remember.

They do not offer a wine list as such but Henrik is willing to put several bottles on the table, explain the differences and come with his recommendation. Apart from that there is a wine menu and a wine menu for the designated drivers.

The photos below give you an impression of the outstanding decor and the puristic and great dishes. I never got to write a review after the visit last year, but I hope to be back soon in order to do so.

Beautiful, inviting, romantic

Small appetizers

Amuse

Eel, dark bread crust, variations of pumpkin

Turbot (I think) - with leaves of Brussel sprout

Langoustine

Pheasant - first serving..

Pheasant - second serving, unsharp photo..sorry.

"Brunsviger" revisited - with red beet

Sweets

The 2 magicians of the evening..

I hope this young lady may never leave the business..if only all waiters were like her.

I think this evening was my 5th visit to the restaurant. Even though neither Henrik nor Vivi was there, it was a stunningly high level on both service and food. The young waiter, I asked for her name but have since forgot, did a fantastic job, smiling, entertaining and explaining about the dishes and the wines. Thats the passion you want to meet as a client, and the passion Henrik normally is demonstrating at all times. Very much like Jan Restorff does is at Sölleröd Kro.

Our of my memory of the evening I have the following conclusion to the visit. Book now.

My rating for this visit: Ambience 4p (5) Service 4,5p (5) Food/Wine 8p (10) : Score 16,5 out of 20.

Mosconi, Luxembourg – 14 July 2010

Chef: Ilario Mosconi, Michelin rating: 2 stars, Millaud rating: 17 points. Furthermore Luxembourg guide Explorer voted Mosconi best gastronomy restaurant in the country 2010.

Situated in the picturesque Grund in Luxembourg, the restaurant looks like a little Jewel next to the river. A small terrasse leads you into the beautiful reception area. A lift brings you to the first floor where 2-3 small rooms beatifully decorated with flowers and soft colours awaits you. A small storm had jus hit town, so dining was inside, which I prefer anyway.

The Alzette running through Grund

How a table should always look, white - inviting....

Simonetta Mosconi, the Mrs. is in charge of your well-being and she is also taking your order.

I have not been to this restaurant for a few years due to the previous poor service (understaffed) and relatively high pricing, even for Luxembourg. The food and the ambience was mostly flawless. Little has changed though the service was much better yesterday if not perfect. The prices seems to have taken a step-up even….most starters around 30-40 euro, pasta dishes around 35 eur, and main dishes around 45 eur, desserts all priced at 18 euro. So an a-la-carte menu of 3 dishes will set you back 100 euro. A big wine list with a huge mostly Italian selection.

Soya Ice cream with olive oil and carrots !

The first appetizer (apart from a small bisquit) was the highlight of the evening, what a soft stunning taste 10p

Creme of Spinach

Very nice, strong taste, smooth texture…we were on the way…7,5p

A company of 4 – we all ordered 4 different starters and 4 different mains. My judgement is thus taken from the respective person as well as my opinion of the presentation of the dish inquestion.

Variety of tomatoes

A very well presented dish, another tasting a small iced tomato soup with balsamich vinegarwas added on the side 8p

Fois Gras with creme of haricots blancs and 25 y. balsamico

My choice and a beautiful dish. 9.5p

Pappa al Pomodoro, basically Lobster on tomato

Most expensive starter at 49 eur (!) Are we in Paris ? -Unfortunately a bit unsharp, the shooting. 7p

Ricotta stuffed flowers of Zucchini

Funny presentation, only in “Italy”, the flowers being penetrated by a Zucchini, 6p

Ravioli de Ricotta, with parmesan and butter, classic

Very simple looking – and tasting homemade pasta – 6p

Sole on potatos and vegetables

Flawless,but not exiting. 6p

Porcelet, diferent cuttings.

My dish, good taste, but also not exploding in my mouth. Very pure and simple taste. 7.5p

Spaghetti a la ghitarra - Pasta like at home with tomatos, mozzarella etc.

Lacked taste, spices….one of the weakest dishes of the day 4p

Predessert, creme with Italian sweet wine....and marengs.

Only 1 of the company really liked this one…3p

Added sweets...

Strawberries with black olives and basil ice !

This just one of the 3 desserts, but the best looking – did not go well with the missus. She did not like the combo. 3p

Conclusion

It seemed like the meal dropped a good bit during the evening, rating the starters higher than the mains, and the mains higher than the desserts. There were a good overall quality in produce and presentation, but some dishes were really not up to the two star rating, let alone 1. But the service had improved a bit, the waiters seemed less stressed than on previous visits. But we had to wait 15 min after choosing the wine to order it, and thats never nice. The water was often not poured when needed. By the way the food was accompanied by a lovely fresh 2007 Friuli Chardonnay from Ronco del Gnemiz at 62 eur per bottle. The sommelier suggested this instead of my choice of a similar bottle at a few euros less. Thats always nice, a sommelier with an opinion. I would not know if he was right.

Having dined with the same people half a year earlier at Schloss Berg it was natural for us to compare price experience etc. Knowing the small menu at Schloss Berg starts at 130 eur and we here were at around 100 eur, the most obvious conclusion and feeling is that you get a great lot more for your last 30 euros.  Both food and service wise. Asked the question – if Schloss Berg cooks close to perfection at lets say 10 – how should we rate this dinner, the prompt answer from the table was 5 – 6 and 7. One guest claimed “I much prefer Clairefontaine” …

Reception, aperitif room...

But, the ambience is second to none, Mrs. Mosconi smiling, the food on a relatively high level. I generally find the service very stiff and un-personal here, but maybe thats just because I am not a regular.

My rating for this visit: Ambience 4,5 (5) Service 3 (5) Food/Wine 6 (10) : Score 13.5 out of 20.

Les Jardins du President, Luxembourg – 6 July 2010

A very good friend introduced me to this little oasis in Luxembourg. At my first visit, I was neither impressed by the service nor the food, but the garden was so stunningly beautiful and the whole place had such a nice ambience that I had to show it to the missus.

Beside the beautiful terrace, there is a pretty dining room inside, some small salons for meetings or pre-dinner drinks. The business is run by the same family at this location since 2000, and also funtions as a small hotel with I think 7 rooms at 150,- euro including breakfast. I would suggest any visitors in Luxembourg to book this during summer – sitting in the garden with ducks and other birds, running water, the church next door, the wineyard up the hill….that has got to be one of the prettiest sceneries in town for breakfast.

"Les Jardins du President"

A quiet corner..

Part of the garden...

Beauties walking by....

The menu offers a good mix of mediterranean dishes. Its by far high gastronomy, and its not a kitchen thats cook into perfection, its not innovative by any means – but it is decent food. The style is very Brasserie like, the small cherry tomatoes, appearing on different dishes etc. Most starters are around 15 eur, most mains 25 euro, and a few vegetarian dishes is offered as well.

We arrived 30 min. before opening time, but that was no problem assured the smiling hostess, we were quickly given the wine list and a Bandol Rosé was ordered (28,50 euro).

We were told that we could not order the food before 7 pm. by the sommelier, but we nevertheless got the menu shortly after arrival.

...

Appetizers

Very tasty and fresh "Terrine of vegetables"

Gazpacho their style....

Lamb cous-cous style

The food was slightly better than on my first visit, the service a lot better and all in all I was glad I came back. The service mostly struggled a bit keeping up with me drinking the rosé. The offered bread basket was with 4 differet kinds of rolls, the salted butter very nice, the gazpacho very heavy on the tomatoes, and the lamb sweet and tender. It could/should have been a lot more spicy for my taste. The tuna dish of the missus totally lacked spices/pepper but apart from that she was happy. The children shared  a small plate of pasta without nothing (as ordered) – but to book that at 16,80 eur !!! – leaves a nice margin (of around 15 eur I would guess). But go there – do not expect high gastronomy – you will find better at the same price elsewhere, but go there for the small piece of paradise the garden is. For business or with your sweetheart.

Our rating for this visit: Food 3p (10) Service 3p (5) Ambience 4p (5) : Score 10 out of 20.

Here´s a snap-shot from the inside.

The inside dining room

Lagura, Luxembourg – 30 June 2010

And so it happened once again….

I went to a for me – new place – and was mighty disappoointed. Why is it so hard I wonder. In this case Lagura is beautifully set in an old mansion, the homepage, the entrance, the deco and the beautiful terrasse offers the best possible frame for a nice meal. The menu and a la carte dining looks tempting, a mix of Italian and Asian food.

We were friendly greeted, during the 90 min stay the young female waiter tried her best, she smiled, she asked standard questions etc., “Would you like an aperitive, maybe a glass of Champagne (which my boss would like to sell you because she earns a lot per glass!!!!) – but it just didn´t come natural to her. You didn´t believe her.

When ordering the Pinot Noir Rouge from Hugel, it was confirmed that it would be chilled. When it arrived it was lukewarm, and the ice bucket did not succeed in bringing the temperature down until the bottle was almost empty. Priced at 38 euro, you can calculate a 3,5 times the normal purchase price, which is horrible but also standard average in Luxembourg.

The young waiter passed our table several times, but for crying out loud

!!!!!!!!!!! – WHEN YOU PASS A TABLE  – LOOK AT IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have no problem in serving my own wine, but when you pay 3,5 times the value some kind of service should be expected. I beat the staff, serving ourselves 3 times out of 5 times.

The food:

Most main dishes are between 22-30 euros. We were offered a little amuse, Tartare of Tuna (!) on a Mint Gel. It tasted and looked like Salmon, and had a slight fishy smell to it. The gel tasted of nothing,

Astrid ordered Risotto an apparently it was good, it was very creamy, lots of parmesan. I found it slightly overcooked. It was definetely freshly made, and the waiter informed us about the waiting time when it was ordered. I had a Poulet au Curry with basmati rice. I have big problems cooking basmati rice. They always end up sticky and tasteless in compare to my local Indan restaurant who claims its very easy. Well the chef at Lagura had the same problem. Very poor taste, and too sticky for my taste. The chicken came “baked” in a bread crust. The “filling” – chicken and vegetables – of the crust was ok if not fantastic. The sauce was offered on the side and let us just say it had a mildly flavoured curry taste.

The crust – as good as it looked was not really eatable, maybe it wasnt the point. But I gave up. When ordering the food, the missus asked for a tomato salad, but that was not possible. Knowing they had several dishes on the menu with tomatos – it is hard to understand why a chef would not find a way to slice some tomatos, add a bit of chopped onions, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Jesus.  But we ordered the suggested side salad, which came at around 5 eur, and was not bad or good in any way.

At this point, the wine was still lukewarm. I excused myself, and went to the rest room. I called Clairefontaine….explained how I wanted a nice ending to a bad meal. And if I could have a table on their terrasse, just for a glass of wine and some dessert.

So 25 minutes later we sat down at Clairefontaine, warmly greeted we were offered Amuses, but rejected since we were not overly hungry.

Half a bottle of Meursault for me and a pink Champagne for Astrid, and we were already feeling better. Before the ordered desserts came, we we offered a pre-dessert which blew us away, I shall spare the details on the desserts because this post is about Lagura, but they were all wonderful. Later the ususal sweets were offered and I had a wonderful digestive on the house.

I cannot thank Edwige and Arnaud enough for saving our evening, Didier and the rest of the staff for being so wonderful and attentive even on a busy and warm day.

The dinner at Lagura clocked in at 99 eur – our “second” dinner at Clairefontaine clocked in at 89 euro.

Conclusion:

I get so irritated, like stated on some of my other post, when all the things are in place for having a wonderful restaurant, and it fails so miserably due to lack of attention to obvious details. In this case it was mainly the food and wine – which off course is bad enough for a Restaurant. Lagura, I shall never be back.

Our rating for this visit: Ambience 3,5 (5) Service 2 (5) Food 2 (10) : Score 7,5 out of 20.