Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 15th April 2014

My longest absence from Clairefontaine I think, since I discovered it way back when Restaurant Speltz went sour in what must be like 10-15 years ago – finally ended due to good friend Jörgen who invited us for dinner as a delayed birthday present. Klaus Erfort and Il Riccio was also on my wishing list, but it was Clairefontaine that go the “the honours” 🙂

Classic menu, my favourite colours anyway

Classic menu, my favourite colours anyway

Nice to see that most of the staff in the service and kitchen were still the same, and even the “ususal” warm welcome and lots of kisses.

We ordered a la carte – I got to choose the wines and opted for a white Saint Joseph and a red Nuits-Saint-Georges 1. Cru from Prieur Roch.

The amuses comes in two rounds, first a single one followed by a double.

Round 1

Round 1

Round 2 -

Round 2 –

and last but not least

and last but not least

All three tasters up to the usual nice standard of amuses in Claire fontaine. Nothing to complain about here but tasters that set the tone for the evening 8p

King Crab / Green Asparagus

King Crab / Green Asparagus

Or as it described in the menu – “Le meilleur du King crabe posé sur une royale d’asperges vertes Françaises, gelée de crustacés, copeaux d’asperges et tuile de tapioca au caramel de homard”. The best looking dish of the evening, and the choice of Jörgen and the missus. 9p

Carpaccio and Tartare of Wagyu with Caviar

Carpaccio and Tartare of Wagyu with Caviar

My choice – “Le carpaccio et le tartare de bœuf Wagyu de la ferme Nuestro Buey,
asperges blanches de Malines et rapée de vieux parmesan Reggiano,
une tuile de pain avec caviar Osciètre”.

I love wagyu. I do think the quality of the meat is more exposed when raw, but I do prefer the texture of the Wagyu when a nice cut of the famous meat gets the right treatmen in the pan 🙂 But delicate it was, and the presentation typical for Arnaud´s kitchen. 8.5p

 

Salmon

Salmon

Astrid´s choice for main dish was actually another starter “Le cœur d’un saumon d’Ecosse Label Rouge cuit par le froid, un tartare en tempura, une crème prise de poireaux et caviar citron”. Didier always in a good mood, did rightfully point out when ordering that this would be a cold main dish and another cold dish for Astrid. But nevertheless the salmon was ordered – and the quality of Salmon dishes at Clairefontaine is ALWAYS good. 8p

Didier making sure you have a good time

Didier making sure you have a good time

Lamb

Lamb

As it turned out – “L’agneau fermier Label Rouge du Bourbonnais en déclinaison, couscous de choux fleur et brocolis au cumin, navarin aux petits légumes et harissa verte” – was the only lamb on my plates this Easter. And I´m happy it was this lamb. Three different cuts of lamb, all great in their own way. Arnaud – I think it will be lamb next time we make a cooking class 🙂 It was great as always. 9p

Dessert :-)

Dessert 🙂

The selection just what you need and a nice way to say goodbye to our lovely bottle of red. Great cheeses 9p

Best wine I have had this year

Best wine I have had this year

You were right Julien, it was an excellent choice 🙂

Conclusion:

9 months of absence – there are only few words needed to describe the feeling of being back. It was great. Thanks for the invitation Jörgen. I treasure your friendship, wit and knowledge. It´s always great to share food and wine experiences with you, not only because you mostly pay 🙂 – but also because we share the same passion for god stuff, and react to stuff that are trying to be more than they are, like the one experience we had in Birmingham. But at Clairefontaine, well things are still as good as they get in Luxembourg. To all the staff at Clairefontaine, we salute you.

My rating for this visit : Service 5p (5), Ambience 5p (5), Food 8.5 – Total Score  18.5p (20)

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Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 12th February 2013

A business lunch is never wrong, when one is invited and the venue is Clairefontaine. My good friend Sam wanted to discuss a future family highlight and I was happy to offer my advice and connections and hopefully we will also provide the wines to the upcoming festive occasion.

Impressive building, impressive weather.

Impressive building, impressive weather.

Sam has not been in Clairefontaine for quite a while but it was clear he felt at ease and enjoyed every minute there. From the warm greetings from the staff till the moment we left a good 2 hours later with full bellies and happy smiles.

Getting ready for service...

Getting ready for service…

Here is some impressions of the a la carte dining we did.

Amuse 1

Amuse 1

Amuse 2....

Amuse 2….

As I have stated many times before…the amuses at Clairefontaine are mostly very solid, and there is always an idea and a taste behind what you are offered. I especially today liked the fois gras thing with the crispy orange slice.

Scallops with truffles..

Scallops with truffles..

Or as it is described on the menu – Le carpaccio et le tartare de Saint Jacques Normandes mariés au céleri et à la truffe Mélanosporum, une vinaigrette d’échalotes confites plusieurs heures. This is one of the signature dishes of Arnaud and always return everyy now and then on the menu in basically the same presentation. I asked Sam to be the judge today. And for him it was a total balance and explosion of good taste. So he rated it a clear 10p. If I should say something negative about the dish 😉 – it would be the 4 leaves of salad, which I think did not fit in the whole picture. But man I do like the dish. 8.5p in my book.

I convinced Sam to try the waguy burger, which I had on my last occasion.

Hamburger Kobe style, with fois gras and a great reduction.

Hamburger Kobe style, with fois gras and a great reduction.

Like last time the potato chips are more potatos than chips, but I must admit I like them like that. Again Sam was over the moon with the dish, and gives it a 9p

Wake me up for this one..

Wake me up for this one…..

My choice today was lamb. I know Arnaud does a GREAT job when ever lamb is on the menu. Today it was one of my favourites…Lamb in different presentations. On the menu the description is again a bit more detailed I guess – L’agneau de lait en 4 versions, une déclinaison autour des légumes oubliés, un jus court infusé au thym frais et à l’ail doux. Loved it. 9p

So…full of taste and impressions…we felt no need to order dessert….but…..temptation is a devil – and so the offering of the market menu – a take on pinacolada, my favourite and not very masculine cocktail – well it had to be tried.

If you like Pinacolada...

If you like Pinacolada…

Just like with the Banana split you get at Schloss Berg, this is all one need in a dessert. I love these takes on classic dishes or tastes. And this was my best dish of the day – even on a day where the competition was tough. 10p.

Conclusion:

We decided to end the lunch at my dining table, opening two nice bottles…yeah I know Gijs, – but I got carried away 😉 And Sam loved them both as he did todays lunch. It is always nice when you decide on a restaurant for a friend, that it lives up to expectations – or even surpass these. Today we could have been in no better place in Luxembourg. Thank you all for the great service and inspiring food. One of my best meals here ever. Sam, thanks for lunch and your friendship.

My rating for this visit: Food 9p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), Total Score  19p (20)

“If you like Pina Coladas, and get caught in the rain.
If you’re not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain.
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape.
I’m the love you’ve looked for, write to me, and escape.”

Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 14 January 2013

“It’s good to be king, – if just for a while
To be there in velvet, yeah, to give ’em a smile
It’s good to get high and never come down
It’s good to be king of your own little town”

Tom Petty 1994

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So – a few weeks ago, when publishing a list with some of my favourite dishes from last year, I got a message from one of my best friends – who spanked me for not having any dish of Clairefontaine in the top 10. Another good friend I have – could never imagine having a good lunch in Luxembourg if not at Clairefontaine.

Well, the first spanking I accept. Because there were some good dishes in there I could have chosen. But when I did the list I had no idea what would end up at the top spots. But just like with my favourite Springsteen songs…the list is constantly changing. But I do feel that all dishes on my top 10 that day deserved their ranking. But, maybe I overlooked a few strong contenders, I cannot honestly say I did not. But – so much more reason to be happy to be back at beloved Clairefontaine. Whether I was the king for a day, or Clairefontaine still is the King of Luxembourg – well I shall let you be the judge.

Table booked, in the car – 15 min later a big smile from Didier, Arnaud, Julien and the rest of the staff, what more could you want. Had a good long chat with Arnaud. Luxembourg is still only just waking up from the holidays and the city is VERY quiet.

New menu, so lots of things to choose from – but I did my homework – online – and settled for the King Crab and the Kobe Hamburger. Open wines, a  matter of trust and confidence and always exciting here at Clairefontaine, because, firstly they do not list any of our wines – yet – so no chance of recognition 😉 – secondly Julien Codet has a GOOD taste, and is slowly starting to know mine 😉 – and thirdly they know I want my wines blind if possible.

The lunch started with a Chenin Blanc, which suffered from my just finished chewing gum, but got better by the sip. The second Chardonnay, – well at least I got the grape right and Bourgogne correct, and I also guessed a Rhone blend for the red.

So…

IMG_4440-001

Saumon

Slowly cooked at 42 degrees for 20 min. Great. One of the best amuses I have ever had at Clairefontaine. And I have had a few 😉

IMG_4442

Round two…

As always you get a second round, and this was to the right a crevette on a fois gras mousse, and to the left a snail on a potato something. Great, except I avoid snails whenever I can.

IMG_4447

King Crab on redish

What made this dish work – or even stand out was the “corail” ice cream on top, the green redish and the fine meat of the crab. What a nice combo. The mozzarella “espouma” with the “egg” shell was a crunchy companion. But I think the dish did not need it. 7.5p

Kobe Hamburger

Kobe Hamburger

Yeah – why not. The little brother L´Annexe has as one of their classics on the menu a “Hamburger” – with slowly braised shoulder of beef I think. This was the big brother of that one. If someone would argue that it would be a crime to mince kobe beef – well I would not know – but I know this much. This was just about the best burger I have ever had. No ketchup to disturb the delicate taste of the meat. Did I say delicate. I meant outstanding. The thin layer of cheese even made it a cheese-burger, but did not take away the focus from the meat or the wonderful reduction. French fries, soft and more like potatoes than greasy fries, and speaking as a Dane – that is a great plus. The bun perfect. If any complaints…it would be the missing pickled cucumber. I do love my cucumbers. Would fit in with the concept of a Luxury burger ? Maybe not. As a burger I would give it a good 10p. As a normal dish in my gastronomic world – well still a good 8-8.5p

IMG_4454

Say cheese…

So our local angel – Gabriel – as always smiling, attentive, and in this case presenting the cheese. The cheese at Clairefontaine is among the best in town, and mostly what you need after a great meal. Special roasted bread is offered as well as selection from the normal bread basket. 8.5p

Conclusion:

Riders of the storm – or readers of my blog will know. Clairefontaine is as good as it gets in Luxembourg. The service under Didier on their toes to make sure you as a customer always are as comfortably and happy as possible. Julien among the best and most gentle sommeliers I know – and Arnaud – classic with an innovative touch. Today I have nothing to complain about. Really I do not. So I think you might find me back soon.

My rating for this visit: Food 8.25p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), Total Score  18.25p (20)

It’s good to be king, if just for a while

To be there in velvet, yeah, to give ’em a smile It’s good to get high, and never come down It’s good to be king of your own little town

Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 31 july 2012

“School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces”
Alice Cooper 1972

Even though the termometer reads 19 degrees, its high summer at this point and the boys have started their summer vacation. So I decided to continue the tradition I started last year. Going with them to my favourite terrasse in town for a boys lunch , even though – to our disappointment the dining was going to commence inside this year. Not a surprice since the weather is really tricky this year. Nevertheless, the sun came out and people arriving an hour later were blessed with both sun and al fresco dining.

Big boys….they really are growing so fast.

We were joined by Angel, the big boy of Chef Arnaud and host Edwige. A big boy himself now at 12. Nice to have some grown up chat at the table. Thanks for your company Angel.

I forgot my camera, so I apologize to you readers and to Arnaud if the photos are not quite up to par. Two rounds of (very nice) amuses – which were both tried and almost liked by the boys 😉 –  were followed by my starter:

Variations of tomato

A summer dish, typical for the style of Arnaud, and it was very nice if not out of this world. The crunchy bisquit was a great combo to the delicate tomatoes. A decent starter where the southern or even Italian  influences were clear with pesto and mozzarella etc. 7.5p

Cheeks of veal, macaroni stuffed with tender small pieces of veal shoulder or leg. Can one call that rilette of veal ?

Great dish, the meat so tender, the reduction VERY tasteful, the different preparations of carrot fitting. Really up there among the top for such a simple dish 8.5p

The menu was followed by the usual sweets and 90 min had gone, the boys, mostly due to Angel, had behaved fantastic, even though I forgot the entertainment in the car.

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Emil and Oscar both had veal on basmati rice with vegetables and as soon as the green leaf on top was removed they loved it…

“Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes”
Alice Cooper 1972

Well we had class today. And so did the menu and wines. The wines today were chosen – and served blind as I like it – 2 white chardonnays were followed by a beautiful red. To get such a great taste from a simple appellation. Well chosen dear Julien

Nice drop.

Conclusion:

I hope dear boys we can re-do this traditon every year for many years to come. It was good practicing for the upcoming lunch at Lameloise. And you did well, if not perfect. The food was in good Clairefontaine style. I do think that meat cooking is one of Arnauds strongest sides and the veal today was no exception.

As most times we were today given the seperate salon, which allows the boys to fool around a bit. Didier was his usual charming self, playing with the boys. The staff on their toes and nothing really to complain about. Was the food out of this world ? No. but it didnt need to be. After all it was just “family guy” establishing a little bit of summer tradition and – “an education” for two aspiring gourmets. And they tried both amuses today, and the first one even without any kind of pressure. Well done my boys. You make it all worthwhile. Restaurant Clairefontaine is still holding on strong to its position as the best (terrasse!) dining in town – and among the best anyway. Thanks for having us.

My rating for this visit;

Food 8p (10) service 5p (5) ambience 5p (5),  Total Score  18p (20)

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)

Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 20 January 2012

“Home
Home again
I like to be here
When I can…..”

Time – 1973 – Mason, Wright, Waters and Gilmour

Dining with fellow idealist – “Culinary Suicide” – always means that you have to sharpen your sences and be prepared for good discussions about Luxembourg, The World, Books, Movies – and most importantly Food and Wines. We do not always share the same taste in restaurants or wines, but we do share the passion. Clairefontaine was where we had our first lunch together and it is always good to be “home”.  The smiles and warm greetings of all the staff gets to me everytime. The room makes you feel welcome, warm and well – kinda home. Especially on a cold winter day.

I got to choose the white, with the excact order from CS to find something nice. A Batard Montrachet 2003 did the trick. It was followed by his choice for red Domaine Peyre Rose – Clos des Cistes 2003

This one is for S. Lloyd...

First small taster...

See this is what I mean. This is what I complain about with tasters/amuse elsewhere. Why cant they all be like this and the following. This one was filled with a Choriza mash with langoustine in one third of it. Absolutely lovely taste.

Second round...

Just as lovely, I was busy choosing the wine and did not pay enough attention to the presentation…sorry Didier…. but I am sure it was a shellfish of some kind with a lovely foam to the right and to the left – a piece of deer…Bambi on a mash with a nice reduction and heavy on cinnamon. 6p

The starter was a winter classic of Arnaud´s. Risotto – Arnaud Style – which basically means that its done on Basmati rice – because he prefers that specific perfumed taste in rice – and finished of with whipped creme. In this version you are treated to a truffle explosion – with a smoked bio egg in the middle. It all becomes a delicate and roboust dish which I would LOVE to eat everyday for brunch. Can we arrange that Arnaud ?

Risotto Arnaud Style...all you will ever need.

For me, this is one of my all time favourites and especially the excact cooking of the egg yolk was incredible and the smell and generous portion of truffles to die for. 8.5p

CS opted for the lobster..

Homard Breton röti a beurre....

Now I would have loved this dish. I am sure I will take it the next time. CS found the preparation a bit on the heavy side, he prefers a lighter kitchen these days. I would give it 10 just for the presentation. Actually I think it was presented under a a smoked filled glass lid.

Monkfish slowly cooked in beurre noisette...

My choice, Monkfish (Lotte) with variations of carrot. My first impression was that the fish was too dry…but the Monk fish can have that texture, and cutting the pieces open told me it was cooked just about perfect. A typical Arnaud presentation, generous with 2 pieces, actually 1 would be enough for “little” me. If I have one complain of the dish it would be that the little cup on top of the picture – apart from the wonderful foamy creme-  also had pieces of monk fish in it. I found that overkill, and I would have left those pieces out. 7p

No room for dessert, “Time” had run out….

Sweets...love the posh presentation

My conclusion:

I hate to waste time with food that is not up to par. And therefore Clairefontaine is always a good choice. When Arnaud is good he is among the best. Today there was nothing new under the sun. It was as expected a great meal with generous portions and good wine. Best service in Luxembourg, Great selection of bread repeatedly served througout the meal, good wine list, I love Julien´s (the young sommelier) gentle style . I had barely sat down before he asked me if he could bring a glass of white wine (as usual) as aperitive. No fuss. It can be very easy to please me you know. What I also like about Clairefontaine is the fact that the amuses is almost always done with an idea or at least with great taste. And since this has been a subject in some of my last reviews, I will compliment Arnaud and his team for having meaningfull amuses. Good to see you all again, wishing you a Happy 2012, I guess I will be back a few times. Thanks to CS for your friendship. It is always quality time dining with you.

“When I come home
Cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones
Beside the fire”

Time – 1973 – Mason, Wright, Waters and Gilmour

My rating for this visit:

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

Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 30 May 2011

“It was a hot summers night and the beach was burning“….except we dont have beaches in Luxembourg and the calendar only red 30 May. But a warm 30 degrees when driving into town around 6 pm. Pre-dinner glassse of rosê and then of to Restaurant Clairefontaine, which you all know by know is my favourite spot in Luxembourg.

On this warm  night we were in for a “standard” treat – however, on the high end of the scale – impecable food and wine, great service and attention from all staff. May I add great bread.

The first amuse, balls stuffed with tuna mash were “sold” to the boys as being round chicken nuggets. Magic – they asked for extra – and even thirds – but that request from Oscar was halted by yours truly.

As always when possible Arnaud arrange for us to have the seperate room, Didier always arranges some pillows in the corner. So as soon as we entered the room the boys threw themselves on the pillows and turned on their Nintendos. However, we insist that they come to the table when food arrives and remain their until the plate is finished. Emil is an easy customer. He finished his plate of pasta and beef with nothing left. Oscar was more pre-cautious in his exitement of food as always. My favourite food is Pizza Margharita is what he normally states.

The table…

The boys…

Where is my pasta.....

Oscar ! this is not how I taught you to eat bread in restaurants....

Actually we had good fun before the food arrived, the boys producing funny faces en masse for the camera…

Second round of amuses...

Eminence of King Crab - Astrids starter....

Different presentations of Salmon, a beauty on the plate.

Baby Saint Pierre, with beautiful Southern France inspired vegs and aioli...

Slowly ccoked Jarret de veau with leek

As the missus proclaimed afterwards….this is the best meal I have had in a long time. “She took the words right out of my mouth”…My main dish was certainly way up there among the best. Loved it Arnaud. We chose a “simple* Rully 1. cru from Jacqueson – 2008. Great great simple wine. I recently had this wine in Bourgogne together with good friend Uffe, Kjetil and Frode and was happy to re-visit this producer.

So the great thing about being regulars in a place like Clairefontaine is you feel at home, you feel the warmth from the staff, you know what to expect and you are seldom let down, and if there are complaints, you know you can deliver them to Didier or Arnaud himself, and they will be treated with respect and understanding. I give the ambience 5 today. It really is a privelege to have your own room dining with two boys. Not that they cant sit still, its just so more relaxed for the parents. Add the fact that all staff constantly jokes with the boys and in general are interested in their well-being – well, what more do you want as a gourmet dining parent.

So before you spend/waste a good 50 or 80 eur per person on a mediocre meal in Luxembourg – please do visit Clairefontaine, tell them I send you. Our meal today for 4 clocked in at 189 eur. Love you guys – Edwige, Arnaud, Didier and Sebastien – you made us a great couple of hours – again.

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