Best Brasserie in town – L´Annexe

Its been 3 years since the opening of L´Annexe, and it has since established itself as a favourite lunch restaurant of many locals, lawyers and businessmen. In the summer you are spoiled with a great views of the “Red Bridge” and the valley below, and evenings can be spend under a fabulous partly heated “monster” of a parasol.

Part of the view over the valley

The restaurant is open Monday to Friday, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The bar is open the whole day. Closed Saturdays and Sundays. The days-special comes at around11-12 eur and starters range from 12-16 euro and mains from16-30 euro. Desserts 6-10 euro.

There might be some good brasseries in town in general, but none I know of serves French food at this level and this with an eye on a constantly high brasserie level and great looking dishes.

Wonderful "Steak de gigot d’agneau au poivre"

Risotto aux écrevisses et ragoût de champignons

So add up – Good food, a great selection of wine per glass, a reasonable wine list (of unfortunately most local and French wines), good beer (notably Battin (draft) or bottled Leffe), good chairs, nice lightning, and the attention of Jerome Kersuzan and his staff – all is set for a great dining experience. The staff might seem a bit stressed at lunch, – 3-4 people serve up 80 people (!) so if you want full attention, you better come a little after the first rush at 12 or in the evening. But Jerome is one of the best in the business and “service” is his middle name. Mind you the restaurant is a Brasserie – and full most lunches, so  booking is essential for lunch.

Since the beginning the concept has included happy hour – all drinks – between 5 pm and 7 pm comes double. The staff is children friendly, and “Miche” – head of the kitchen – is always able to prepare little something for them – pasta, potatoes, ham etc.

The menu consist of apxm. 5 todays specials of the day/week, and a lot of  starters and classics which are changed less often. Below is an example of the menu as per today:

This weeks special´s: Tagliatelles aux fruits de mer 16€,  Foie de veau au cassis 20€,  Moules à la crème ou à la moutarde 19€,  T. Bone steak, sauce fumée 32€, Steak de gigot d’agneau au poivre 18€, Coquelet épicé à l’orientale 16€

Starters: Salade de chêvre chaud à la tapenade, smoothie melon 14€,  Soupe du jour  12€, Carpaccio de boeuf au pistou 15€, Salade Niçoise au poulet 16€, Tomates farçies aux escargots 16€,- “Jelli” de queue d’écrevisses à l’estragon 15€, Tartare de saumon 14€

Nos Classiques : La bouchée à la reine 15, Steak de thon façon Rossini 21€, Hamburger de pot au feu au foie gras 21€, Le tartare de bœuf 20€, L’entrecôte d’Argentine sauce Béarnaise, frites, salade 23,50€, Risotto aux écrevisses et ragoût de champignons 16€ en entrée / 21€ en plat.

Assiette de fromages affinés: 8€

Desserts: Charlotte choco-myrtilles, sorbet framboise 7,50€, Sablé muesli, crème de mûres et fruits rouges 7€, Vacherin glacé façon “Annexe” 6,50€, Coupelle de fruits frais et ses sorbets 8€, Feuillantine à la pistache, mousse fraise et glace guimauve 7,50€, L’assortiment de glaces et sorbets 2€ la boule, La tarte de jour,  Crème brûlée à la vanille 6,50€, Moelleux au chocolat 8€

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So my advice to you – Are you a tourist, and you want to avoid one of the many tourist traps, – or are you a local, who just hasnt visited L´Annexe yet, please do so. Enjoy the great food, have a chat with Jerome who speaks French, English and German, – special requests are welcome by the way, enjoy the view, the terrasse, or have a romantic dinner – but most of all, be sure that you have just found one of the best quality/price ratio restaurants in the country.

Sebastien, always one big smile...

L´Annexe (Edwige and Arnaud) – I congratulate you on your 3 years anniversary and I am looking forward to many more great lunches and dinners here. Jerome, Sebastien, J.P. , Christophe and “Miche” – Rock on!

L´Annexe, Rue du Saint Esprit 7, L-1475 LUXEMBOURG, Tél: 26 26 25 07, http://www.lannexe.lu/

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Schloss Berg, Nennig, Germany – 3 September

As good as it gets.

Thank you Yildiz, Christian, Daniel, Jochen and all the rest of the great team that again made our evening special and our lives a little more rich.

Schloss Berg, the entrance.....

Christian Bau – I do not know how you manage to improve the level time after time. Coming back is always fantastic. Food should be fun. It sure was yesterday. Some of the dishes yesterday were not human any more. Must have been made with the help of Merlin or maybe Harry Potter. The details, the combination of every little thing on the plate. Each plate is not a plate in that respect. Its a piece of art. But that only works if the taste can give one what the eye expects. And thats the wonder of your kitchen. Congratulations, I hope to be back soon…next time with my camera.

Words can not describe your cooking, at least not my words, so I shall leave this to Trine, I envy you Trine – you may expect something special, but I guess you know that – Have fun.

– and to my friend Jan. Please come soon – you dont wanna miss this.

My rating for this visit: AS GOOD AS IT GETS !

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

Brasserie Speltz, Luxembourg – September 2010

This breaks my heart.

But I have to write this review, maybe it will do some good somehow.

I can start the review with this message. Please come back from holiday Carlo Speltz. Whatever staff you have decided to hire. They are no good without your supervison. I can only hope they act differently when you are around.

Having lived 20 years plus in Luxembourg, Speltz used to be one of my favourite spots. I had private dinners here once a week, and I guess in average business lunch once or twice a week on top of that. I got to know Carlo and Isabelle as private friends, and treasure their witt and ways. This is also where I met my best friend Jerome Kersuzan when he was employed as the sommelier and laiter as the maitre here.

I travelled with them from one of the best adresses in Luxembourg City, to their final reward of 1 michlin star, which they since lost. When they lost their star, they also downsized kitchen wise, tried different new chefs, but it never quite were the same. Last year I returned after having abandoned the place for several years, and were positively surpriced. The quality of my Bouef Bourgignon at 19 eur was outstanding. I remember returning the same week for the same dish.

Last month I recommended an old frind Mr. Stenersen to try this spot again, only to learn he had had the same experiences and doubts before. However, he chose to follow my recommendation and I had not heard any feed-back since. So I was curious to find out what was happening at Speltz these days.

Going out tonight and having only an hour to kill, i.e. 1 dish – I settled with my good friend Jerome. It was his first visit since he left the place some 5 years ago.

I chose the last outside table, partly in the sun, went inside – because nobody came out…..asked if I could take the table or not. I was disturbed already, because there was no familiar faces among the staff ..and I hate that.

Having gotten the menu by the maitre, who presented it to me, already looking away before it was in my hand….THAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE !!!…asked me if I wanted an aperitive, I asked for the wine list. 20 min later (!!!) one of the young girls returned to ask if I has chosen a wine….I had, a New Zeeland Sauvignon Blanc at 37,50 euro. 5 min later another young lady returned with a Argentinian Sauvignon Blanc. I said it looks nice, but I ordered a New Zeeland one. 5 min later she returned with the correct bottle with an ice bucket. That was definetely needed, because it was luke warm at best. However, when we emptied our last glass later, it was chilled to our liking. The last glass.

Jerome opted for the Filet American 24 eur, and I chose the dish of the day, Grilled Dorade (cod) at 18 eur.

What can I say, my fish perfectly cooked, the grilled vegetables very nice, millions of light-years better than the ones I had at the fish restaurant at Hohe Düne last week. But a very simple dish, a Brasserie dish, something I cook. What I expected. Most restaurants would serve this dish of the day at 12-15 eur.

Our second wine – a nice Santenay, came perfectly chilled. Funny thing – when ordering it, Jerome specifically asked for it to be correctly chilled. The waiter rolled her eyes. Now that could mean, jesus, you are difficult, or …yeah, like that is going to happen…either way, the turning of the eyes never goes down nicely with a customer…or a critic in this case.

The filet american, was beautifully served, however at that price Jerome had expected a slightly bigger serving. However, rather small and good than big and bad.

Except for one occasion, we at all times served our wine ourselves, the maitre was nowhere near our table.

Jerome opted for a selection of cheese, which came . and was not bad – but also not really interesting. Average. However, even at this point as throughout the meal, no further bread was offered. At this point I lost my patience. Got up, went inside, and loudly asked if it was perhaps possible for my friend to have some bread with cheese. So the 3 persons (!) behind the counter (!) agrreed that it was possible – and soon after it was delivered.

My question or advice to my good friend Mr. Speltz. You have a concept, you have Brasserie food at a nice level even at high prices…but so be it.

But please consider why you have employed a Maitre. Please consider why you have employed 4 persons to take care of lunch for 20 people. Especially if they have no interest in offering any kind of acceptable level of service. I can tell you this. If I were the manager, I would fire all at this very instant, and not leave for holiday. I dare you or anybody, to take care of this amount of people alone and better than these 4 people managed today.

For tourist passing by, it might be acceptable. For you Carlo, with the reputation of your fine house, it is a disgrace, and it will be a while before I come back. I do not deserve this kind of NO ATTENTION. Neither do any tourist passing by.

What should have been a simple lunch – turned out to be the proto type of that something so apparently easy that can go so bad with the wrong kind of staff.

I shall finish on this note. I gave up asking for the bill, none of the 3 girls gave me any attention after I had to ask for bread. So Jerome did that for me. In a rude manner with a rude reply. Lastly, my old friend Mr. Stenersen send me a feed-back from his visit. He was positively surpriced. Their company of 5 had had a great evening, with everything, one could argue Brasserie food, brasserie service (no presentation of the dishes) – but in fact thay had a great meal. I was so happy to hear that. Knowing Mr. Stenersen, I find it hard to believe he would have accepted the kind of service we were offered.

It breakes my heart Carlo, because I really think you should live up to your past, and this staff is simply no good.

My rating for this visit: Ambience 3,5(5) Food 5 (10). Total score 8.5 (service not rated, because it was below any acceptable standard).


Yachtresidenz Hohe Düne, Warnemünde-Rostock, Germany – August 2010

We booked this hotel/resort first time in 2009 and was happy to return for a few nights this year.

Hohe Düne greeting us Hello !

Yachtresidenz Hohe Düne is situated ever so beautifully at waterfront, that means most rooms have full harbour or ocean view. You need to take a 2 minute boat ride to get to the “Hohe Düne” or to get back to the shopping street, or small cosy streets of Warnemünde, or the most STUNNING sand beach. The staff at the hotel, from the reception manager to the cleaning lady are ALL instructed to greet you in the most friendly way. They are really good. This comes over very very honest and extremely friendly. And the only other hotels I have tried this level is Hyatt, Perth, Hyatt Sydney and off course….George V. in Paris.

Inside the resort, yacht harbour side..

Sun going down....lovely colours

same...

Within the resort you have anything you could wish for. The Yachtresidenz consist of a 5 star hotel, with full pool, spa and massage facilities. You can dine in a 1 star michelin restaurant “Der Butt” where Tillmann Hahn spoils his guests, a fish restaurant, a steak house, an Italian one and a Brasserie. Add 3 bars and throw in some some fashion, maritime, sovenir shops. But here comes the real bonus for stressed out parents….With the stay you automatically are free to make use of the day-care for your children aged between 3 and 16. You merely pay a small fee for drinks and lunch. You may drop them off after 10.00 and can pick them up again until 19. The programme is full with treasure hunt, swimming, afternoon rest with dvd, games, a jumping around area etc. etc. etc.  This has to be seen and experienced.

So while your children are being spoiled with entertainment you may sit on your balcony, watch the boats sailing by, shop around inside the resort, or take the boat for a fabulous trip “to the other side”. Did I mention all the restaurants inside Warnemünde? Offering a large selection of fresh fish, wine and beer. And ladies…. one shoe shop after the other.

View from the balcony at "Der alten Strohm"

and to the other side, the inside yacht harbour

- sunset

The bars are so good you just wanna stay there and drink your life away. A vast numbers of whisky, cocktails, gins, champagne etc. etc etc. A small menu for afternoon teas with fingerfood or a children´s menu is offered.

The "Kamin" bar

with light dinner, fab REAL Cod fish sticks

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Let me give you a run-down of our experience this time.

When checking in we learned that our 38 sqmroom was in fact at the end of one of the buildings and in compare to our first visit, our harbour view partly obstructed by a huge tower. I went to the reception and without to much off a fuss I was shown to another room (an upgrade even) and asked if that would do. Thats how it should be. Easy handling of a potential big issue for a tired guest. The rooms are decorated in a maritime way, with minibar, library, working desk, flat screen tv and offers free wireless internet.

The boys off to the entertainment we had time to unpack and settle in with a drink or two.

First night we dined at the fish restaurant, and had very nice starters, and acceptable mains, a beautiful wine. The service very friendly, by inquiring about the food I offered the following information to the manager. My main dish “A mixed plate of grilled fish” was boring and not up to par considering the fact that this is a Fish restaurant. The grilled mixed Mediterranean vegetables almost uneatable. He offered a little something before I finished my lecture, making it obvious he had had criticism before. It was not my issue I told him. I think the correct thing would have been to take them away from the bill (3,50 eur) – would have made me more happy than the schnaps he brought. He did however, come back with a few remarks about them, having investigated in the kitchen what went wrong. I know what went wrong, the eggplants (80% of the side dish) were not grilled, they were soaked beyond there limits witholive oil and/ or water and simply not eatable. So we left, full, but not as happy as the year before where the fish had been outstanding.

As for the breakfast the following day….I have stayed in many hotels at all levels….I have never ever experienced a breakfast buffet so full of everything, fruits, mueslis, danish pastry, rolls, bread, 10 different salamies, ham in any fashin, 5 different herings, 20 different cheeses, etc. etc. etc. A chef ready to cook any kind of egg dish to your liking…..mushroom, ham or cheese omelette, you name it. Add “Champagne”, juice etc. and you dont really need to think about lunch.

We then spend the day shopping at the other side “Jack Wolfskin” had a nice pair of shorts for me on sale and Bugatti a nice jumper (not on sale).

Afternoon in the bar, freshening up – and then

Dinner at the 1 Michelin star awarded restaurant “Der Butt”.

Entrance to "Der Butt"

Before your meal arrives you are presented with different kinds of bread which is then cut for you, 3 different kinds of olive oil, from mild to strong and a very funny salt tasting, Around 12 different kinds of salts are presented and you choose what you like, Australian, volcano, fleur de sel, fleur de sell with different kind of added taste (cranberry ?) etc. etc. etc. We each chose 3.

Then 3 diffent servings of greetings from the kitchen, the first round being brilliant, the second and third average good but not convincing.

A great Meursault was chosen, decanted and a nice companion throughout the meal.

The dinner was worth its star, nothing much to complain about. The missus had “Yellowtail Kingfish Sashimi” – then “Variation of Artichokes” – “Lobster Bisque with green mango” and “Chocolate Gateau with savage berries”. That went from 10p for the Tuna to 6p for the chocolate gateau – but a good 8-8,5p (10) in average. I had Variation of “Foie Gras with apple, ginger and choriandre” “Crispy chicken pieces with an emulsion of bio egg and black truffles” – Variation of veal with mediterranean vegetables and olive sauce” and a very nice selection of cheeses which I chose from a trolley. Starter, main dish and cheese right there on top and the second dish far from it. But again a good 8,5 (10) average. A small note…the requested glass of white wine to go with my cheese plate was poured before I had chosen my cheeses. I would have done it the other way around. Anyway the wine went fine with half of the cheeses and I guess thats all you could have hoped for anyway.

With 4 different seasonal menus – you may swap around as you like between – a classique one, a Mediterranean one, an exotique one as well as an vegetarian Jardiniere one you are destined to find just the perfect menu between 89 and 115 euro. Its a small restaurant with only 30 chairs so reserving a table is essential. After the meal Tillmann Hahn was kind enough to sign a menu card for us upon my request as well as providing me with the recipe for the chili granite that accompanied the sashimi. I have to try to reproduce it. It was fabulous.

Some great dishes, good smiling and attentive staff, minor flaws – so Mr. Tillmann Hahn, expect to see us next year.

My rating for this visit: Ambience 3,5 (5) Service 4 (5) Food/Wine 8,5 (10) : Score 16 out of 20.

Some more photos to put you in the mood for my conclusion:

London Blue Gin

what can I say to the stay – well we prolongated our stay with one day. The prospect of another relaxing day just being too much of a temptation. As Oscar put it when we arrived. “Mommy and Daddy, the next two days I have some free time” – free from us and thus free to do what he wanted. He is 5,5 mind you.

Last day, we had an average lunch at the Brasserie, again, great wine and service. We later had a less than perfect dinner in the steak-house, good salad, wrongly cooked meat (which was exchanged quickly), boring crisp (!!!) potato skins which were not taken from the bill, but again a drink was offered as compensation (!). I think next year we will dine only at Der Butt and then on the other side – in town.

Anyway my conclusion to “Yachthafenresidenz Hohe Düne” is:

Hotel: You get outstanding quality of service, great rooms, great views, stunning breakfast. Spa, massage and pool facilities top of the range.

Food: Where the concept is easy and well defined – 5 different theme restaurants, 1 gastronomic…its easy to see where the individual restaurants have room for improvement. The only restaurant to fully live up to expectations would be “Der Butt”. Its semilar in style to the food you get at for example Babette in Denmark. Good produce and good ideas. However, – Der Butt have a much larger selection of food to choose from. The quality of the childrens food is actually flawless throughout the resort. REAL Fish in the fish sticks, great pasta etc.

Bars: All you could wish for. Maybe a larger selection of beer, but I guess its not really what they want to sell.

Shops: Well, its nice to stroll around, but the great attraction is Warnemünde across the “Strom”. Here you will find anything you need.

Warnemünde: Great little city, restaurants and shops to kill a day or three. Lighthouse, world class beach.

My conclusion is – for a family who needs a little break, this is the perfect hide-away. We are coming back as long as we can afford it. And we are looking forward to 2011 already. Try it out, book ahead and you get a 20% discount.