Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 28 June 2012

First real terrasse dining weather of this years summer. We have really had poor June weather, and our favourite terrasse in town had not been open most days.

But today it was – and a phone call later I was on my way to yet another lunch at Clairefontaine.

This is where you wanna be on a sunny day in Luxembourg.

Warmly greeted we felt at ease and “good to be back”. Didier, Julien and the rest of the staff always makes you feel welcome.

Money´s tight – and today we opted for the market menu which is a 3 course menu, including amuses, corresponding wines, water and coffee – and comes at around 65 eur I think.

First round of amuses…

Amuses, round two…brilliant presentation, tasty – all you need

As always the amuses at Clairefontaine is great, always tasty, always different, seldom out of this world, but small nice presentations that mostly shows what the kitchen of Arnaud and William is all about.

Wine suggestions for the starter…

Julien suggested both, and let us taste both before choosing one for the starter. I liked that. We both opted for the Domaine Gauby.

Gazpacho with creme of goat cheese and chorizo

Best dish of the day….just right for the 28 degrees celsius we were spoiled with 8p

Haddock with gel of red beet and salad of red beet….

Simple wine, great taste…

A simple presentation, but great to have red beet with fish. My mother used to always combine that whenever it was “fish day” way back in my youth – 200 years ago. The red beet salad inside the pastry as well as the red beet gel was really the highlights of this dish 7.5p

Strawberries in two ways…

Nice dessert, again typical for the style of Clairefontaine. The crispy layers, the smooth creme, the tasty strawberries. A nice one. 7.5p

My conclusion

As I have stated before, – this is the best terrasse dining you will find in Luxembourg. It is a quiet square not disturbed by anything – except the church bells announcing the passing of the time. The small market menu comes at a decent price, the wines are well selected, the service impecable. If I could eat here 2-3 times a week – I would. But I cannot, – and that keeps it always fresh and always worthwhile. Have I had better menu´s – better meals at Clairefontaine ? Yes. But on this day it was just about right. I will have to ask Arnaud to dig out his take on paella – which I think he did last year or the year before that.

Thanks for having us dear friends, see you hopefully soon again.

My rating for this visit:

Food 7.5p (10) service 5p (5) ambience 5p (5), Total Score  17.5p (20)

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Fischers Fritz, Berlin – 30 May 2012

“When morning comes and I’ll leave Berlin
My mind is turning
My heart is yearning
For you and Berlin”

Wizz Jones – 1973

*

Just where you wanted to be on this day…

To choose a good meal in Berlin is a tough one. The capitol holds many top notch restaurants – and my choice for today Fischers Fritz and the chef  Christian Lohse holds on to two michelin stars for I think 5 years now. The restaurant, the ambience, the high level service, the food is as classic as it can be. Its situated in the 5 star hotel Regent which due to its former owner Four Seasons gave us flash backs of “better days” (money wise) – because lots of details and decor was like copied from George V. in Paris. Pure class.

As classic as it gets…

This one´s for Sony…

So – the kind waiter showed us to our table and questioned whether the gluten-issue was correct and confirming that it would be no problem to handle. A second waiter emerged only to put the same question – if the gluten allergy was correctly noted. Nice to know we were in good hands from the beginning.

The menu has a business lunch with three courses at 45 eur I think. A bargain. A larger menu to choose from – 4-6 courses and off course a la carte dishes. It is a fish restaurant with the weight and focus on just that. Astrid chose the business lunch and I chose a la carte, my choices hitting two of the signature dishes of the chef as it turned out.

A LARGE wine list – well a book – was presented by Andrew Connor, the new “kiwi” sommelier having started only a few days before in Berlin. What a friendly and service minded person he was. I wish you the best of luck in your new hometown my friend.

Our bread basket selection – one normal – one gluten-free

Again, great to see that everything was taken care of – no room for mis-haps here.

A little greeting from the kitchen Salmon or Salmon trout – damn I forgot.

Secound round of amuses…

All great, the asparagus creme to the left stunning. Amuses 8p

Anguille Fumee et Fois Gras

Simply stunning. The thin layer of smoked eel below the fois gras added so much to the dish. peppery caramelized sugar on top the balance. Wauw. Purety. Class – 10p

Carpaccio of Trout Salmon….

Not too much of a fuss here…simple presentation great taste. 8p

Homard au Piment et coriandre – A lobster extravaganza…

A little side dish to my lobster – to balance the oil of the main dish I think…

As described on the menu, roasted with salt, chili and choriandre – and served with lots of oil, making it a very “southern” dish – and not classic at all. I loved it – a generous whole lobster, which was however a LARGE sample of its kind and almost too big. 8.5p

Cod …

The arrangement of this dish was changed and the couscous replaced with the suggestion of the waiter, rice with herbs. Again not a presentation out of this world but the cod cooked perfectly and the rice with great taste. 8p

A little something to clear the palate…

Funny little thing – something you would never put together yourself I guess, but it worked.

Sweets for my sweet….

Creme Brulee

So my favourite classic dessert on the menu at a two star establishment…the choice was easy. Even though that fun came at 20 eur – which might seemlike  a healthy price for a creme brulee. Well it was perfect thats all I can say. No playing around here with lemon or berries, chocolate or nuts. Just pure pleasure. Made me very happy. 10p

Rhubarb…

A great dessert, but a daring presentation you might think. If you dont know what I mean – well let me point it out

Ooops…

– and in fact it was the misssus who first mentioned this to me. One can say you got to have balls to present a rhubarb like that. But great dish 9p

Conclusion:

What a nice lunch it was. The staff on their toes at all times. The signed menu delivered to the room, the waiter making sure the following day it was as I wanted it to be. The meal was very different from the two-star dining we experience we had the night before in Falco in Leipzig – but it was not far from it. It was just more classic, but I think that is excactly what they want to be and for us it was great to have just that on this day.

What stood out for me was the classic ambience, the service – food wise the fois gras was out of this world.

We thank you for making our stay in Berlin even more memorable, we felt in good hands at all time, the gluten issue profesionally handled and we would want to be back next week for sure – if only we could.

As for the Bruce show in the evening. Well it was one of my best stadium shows ever. Like Fischers Fritz, Bruce has probably never been better. He blew us away, the mix of songs, the warmth of Bruce, even the sound this time around.

Just like Bruce – Fischers Fritz has to deliver at all times – any time. No space for flaws here. So off course there were none. Congratulations – To Bruce and to Fischers Fritz…

“When morning comes and I’ll leave Berlin
I’ll know for certain I am a free man
When I leave Berlin”

On top of his game – at almost 63 ! 28 songs and a 3 hour show. No break. Try that Justin or Madonna or Gaga – My rating for the concert 20p (20)

*

My rating for this visit: Food 8.5p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), total score for this visit  18.5p (20)

Falco, Leipzig, Germany – 29 May 2012

“Coming home, I’m coming home
Let me show you who I am
Let me show you I’m your man
I would give anything just to see you again”

Falco 1986

*

“Coming home” – to the hometown of the missus – it had been too many years – we finally managed to fit the gastronomic pride of the “new” part of Germany into our schedule. The restaurant is situated on the 27th floor of the old Westin Hotel which of course provides the guests breathtaking views of the city.

“View to a kill”….

The name of the restaurant pays homage to the family of falcons that are nesting on the top of the building every year.

The mother falcon watching her two “babies” that were nesting below where a cage had been build by the staff.

Peter Maria Schnurr holds 2 michelin stars and his style of cooking is not far from the one we know and adore of Christian Bau in Schloss Berg. Its light and modern – sometimes daring combinations and always pretty as it get presentations. Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by the bar keeper of the bar that runs into the restaurant. A glass of Ruinart Blanc des blancs and the  stunning view of Leipzig. I had spotted the “Bible” – entitled Cuisine Passion Legere – on display at the entrance and requested to have a signed copy ready at the end of the meal. The funny thing is, that the cooking is one of the lightest you will find, and the book for sure is one of the heaviest. A monster of a book. I am so looking forward to endulge further into it in the coming months.

First amuse was served with the champagne at the bar.

Round one goes to Falco ..

Beautiful arranged, and the gluten-allergy and vegetarian status of the missus being respected from the first moment always give us a certain amount of confidence 9p

Christian Wilhelm best sommelier of Berlin 2010 showed us our corner table with the same stunning view of Leipzig. He was throughout the evening a perfect host, so was his two female colleagues. Service do not get much better than this.

Bread

Bread at Falco is not your standard basket, but these two on display here. It was combined with two other tastings. However, there was no gluten-free variety but the missus was fairly warned to watch out.

Second amuse…and

Third and last greeting from the kitchen…

Those two rounds of amuses was stunning and especially the last one, with the caviar of salmon trout – to die for. 10p

We had opted for the small menu, which will set you back 144 eur – the larger version comes at 179 eur.

Raw Scallops with rhubarb with a green ice cream of Granny Smith, olives and basil

Loved it. Best scallops in my life I think – or at least way up there with the best. Loved the presentation too. 10p

Lobster with basil, choriandre, mint and apple.

The colour of the green creme AMAZING. 9p

Salmon trout – Omble Chevalier

Great dish, great taste of the fish, slowly cooked, and the presentation again with an eye for detail, both for the eye and mouth 9.5p

A small – clear the palate thing.

I think it was red berries ice – on a coco bisquit. Great plate too.

“Schwarzes Eichel” porc on a paella creme (!)

My choice – Iberico porc – slowly cooked at low temperature I think (which is not my favourite style) – the paella creme on top tasted like paella…great combo. But the weakest dish of the evening 8p

Iceland Kabeljau

This dish was re-aaranged to fit the gluten-free aspect. A large piece of cod – but cooked to perfection – and a great dish but also not as sharp as the starters 8.5p

Luise Volkert proudly presenting the cheeses…

I asked Luise to present the tray as if we would have some, but we opted no up front. Great job. And a great selection and beautiful counter it was. 10p

Pre-dessert….

Strawberry botox

Again a presentation that brought memories from Bau´s kitchen. Great dessert 9p

Another after dessert was served – but the picture I got from that is not good, – instead the crusty lollies will be the last food shot of this evening.

My boy lollipop…

Lovely as the meal and evening.

Conclusion:

I am so happy, and so is the missus – that we finally managed to eat at Falco. It does not get much better than this. The staff, the kitchen, the service level, the views, the ambience. Everything was in balance – and the easy-going ways of the service is just what we like. At the end of the meal Peter Maria Schnurr came to our table and we chatted a good 15 min about the meal and life as such. He proudly showed me what he had written for us.

A happy chef. He has every reason to be just that.

He also invited me to the kitchen to sign a tile on the wall, an honour not many people had been offered, and my signature – Das Bo – with a small thank you – is right there in the midst of these wizzards or just another brick in the wall among “other famous” people. I thank you Peter Maria for that honour, for the time with you – and ALL your staff for a tremendous evening. Be sure to find os back next time we are in town. I shall add a bonus point – because everything on this evening was in balance. And to the pretty brunette waitress that cared so good for us throughout the evening…I am sorry I forgot your name dear.

My rating for this visit: Food 9p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), plus the added bonus point – total score for this visit  20p (20)