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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Sölleröd Kro, Denmark – 8 August 2010

Celebrating a special day with old best friends is always great, but this day was in fact out of this world. I am actually glad the rain was pouring down, because this way there is still room for improvement. Other than that, what we experienced as to hospitality, creativity, good food and stunning wines – was simply amazing. I had high expectations for this lunch. Seeing old “friend” Jan Restorff again, and knowing that Jakob de Neergaard in the kitchen is as sharp as ever – it would be easy for my high expectations not to be met.

But from the moment we entered the room, Jan meeting us outside – at 12.00 till we left 5 hours later we were spoiled and taken care of, in a manner that it will be hard for anybody to follow-up on, or even try to get close to.

I have said it before, and I would like to stress it again. For this restaurant to hold “only” 1 michelin star is so close to criminal as it gets. Wake up Michelin, Take away a star in Hong-Kong and one in Luxembourg, and put them here – right there in the heart of Sölleröd.

I do not need the craziness or innovation of Noma or El Bulli to recognize when something hits the spot. I need good food, a slash of creativity, a lot of attention to detail and to the table, add a romantic ambience, Jakob and Jan – and you have the perfect meal. At least I had on that Sunday.

Some of my shots came out a little blurry – I apologize for that, but have chosen to include them.

We chose the standard 5 course Sölleröd Menu with a few extras thrown in as suggested by Jan, and to start it all of we went for a Champagne – Pol Roger Millesime 2000 rosé. I absolutely adored this bottle, the long nutty aftertaste. Stunning. Note – Have to buy some of that for my cellar when there is some money left in my pocket. Just for the fun of it, Jan let us try another vintage white champagne from Pol Roger – was it 1999 ?. Powerful, but the rosé blew me away.

A quiet romantic corner

Fantastic bread, replaced throughout the entire meal.

Green Gazpacho with olive ice.

This little amuse was so great, so creamy. Wonderful 10p

Caviar - Avocado - Langoustine

Albino Caviar - Avocado - Langoustine

This was the first of the little throw-in dishes. Jakob came out and explained about the caviar, especially about the Albino caviar, how much was harvested in the world etc.  The men were served the black, and the women were served the albino version. This was caviar as good as it gets in my book, the delicate combination with the avocado creme and langoustines…wauw. This is normally on the a-la-carte menu I think. When you go there..TRY IT ! 10p

To continue with the meal we then chose a bottle of Meursault Charmes 2006 from Francois Mikulski. What a great wine for the following dishes. Jan suggested us 4 whites, explained about their differencies, making the choosing really interesting.

Römö shrimps with cucumber, horseradish and dill

A simple light dish. The mild horseraddish and the nutty oil in the bottom made this dish melt in your mouth. The small shrimps added the texture and great taste. 9.5p

Smoked cod with different types of cabbage

Again, light, beauty on a plate, pleasure in your mouth. 9.5p

Again is was time to change direction, wine wise, and we chose a bottle of Chambolle Musigny 2006 from Francois Bertheau. Again Jan helped us in choosing from the vast numbers of bottles on the wine list by presenting 4 bottles, explaining etc. Since the wine was such an instant hit, he tickled our senses by offering a second bottle from Cambolle Musigny, the 2007 (?) Philippe Pacalet. What a whine, at first much more closed and fruity than the well balanced and smooth Bertheau, later totally winning us over with its charm and elegance.

Variety of potatos with summer truffles

Simple food, what do you get when you pair potato the best vegetable in the world, with truffles one of the most expensive vegetables in the world ? Happiness. May I add the summer truffle was really tasty and the dish a hit in my book. 9p

Roasted turbot with chanterelles and parsley

A “standard” Sölleröd dish, perfectly cooked turbot with tasty chanterelles. What more do you want ? 9p

Breast of veal with foie gras, new onions and currant

Ring ring ring…..a true beauty. Veal vacuum-cooked at 48 degrees then braised….the perfect meat. A dish you never wanted to finish. In a good way. 10p

Buttermilk, lemon and mint

First of the desserts, was a mojito oriented pleaser. I loved it. 10p

Red berries

A “Noma” inspired presentation. Again, the ligthness (needed at this point) the taste of the berries. 9,5p

Raspberry - "guf" - Raspberry

I love raspberry – 9.5p

Chocolate - chocolate - chocolate.

For me the weakest dish on a perfect menu, but maybe, just maybe the stomach was starting to say enough. Chocolate is still a must in any menu lol. 9p

To accompany the desserts, we first had two different tastings of Riesling Auslese from Mosel – Saar – Ruwer, and later two red low alcoholic wines – Jan have to help me here if he sees this, because I simply forgot their names, but they were both great, fresh and perfectly matched the berries and chocolate.

Conclusion:

I would wish for any gastronaut in the world to try food at this level, I would like everyone to feel the warmth and hospitality of Jan. I would want all the waiters in the world to deliver at least 10% of the passion Jan delivers. He lives food and wine. I love him. For me he is the among the best in the world. As good as it gets.

Simply the best

How do you rate a visit 20 km. north of Copenhagen yet so close to heaven – with good friends – with a meal close to perfectness. One could argue that more innovative dishes have seen the world, but when all is said and done – can good food get any better than good food ? Not in my world. Thank you again Jan and Jakob for making our day even more special. We shall be back….and even though it will be a little while, I can hardly wait. Sölleröd Kro rock on …….and thank you. I will add an exta 0,5 point to reach the top mark which I felt we experienced that rainy Sunday. As good as it gets.

My rating for this visit: Food 9,5 (10), Ambience 5(5) and service 5 (5)  Happiness point 0,5 – Total score 20 (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