The Small City With a Big Heart – A Look at Luxembourg’s Food And History
Luxembourg, a country with less than 1 million people living in it, is a central hub in the European Union. Despite what you might think, there is a lot more to this small and mighty country than meets the eye.
From food and historic attractions to the kind and welcoming nature of the city’s residents, this European destination is a gem, one that is often overlooked when compared to other cities.
I recently spent a few days exploring all the city of Luxembourg has to offer, from food and drink to history and culture.
After arriving on Thursday evening, I checked into the Hotel Vauban, a cosy hotel right in the heart of the city centre on Place Guillaume II Square, a mere five-minute walk to the famous Grand Ducal Palace.
After a quick rest, I met my guide for the trip and we walked the short distance to Restaurant Le Plëss, which has recently re-opened following renovations.
With its open-plan kitchen and plush surroundings, I immediately knew we were in for a treat. While perusing the menu, we indulged with a sparkling glass of Crémant de Luxembourg.
Following recommendations from the staff, we chose to share the Crudo de Poisson Sauvage du Moment, a selection of three types of raw fish with accompanying sauces.
Of the three (Bream, Tuna and Hamachi), I found myself particularly drawn to the Japanese fish, which paired perfectly with the assortment of dressings, including soy and olive oil.
A large portion, the dish is meant as a sharing platter so it was absolutely perfect for the occasion given that there were two of us.
Moving to our main course, we enjoyed the spit-roasted chicken, which was stuffed with mushrooms and onions to maximise the flavour.
Served in two portions with sides, you eventually end up sampling the entire chicken, with the leg being my undisputed favourite. A delicious dish, it was a little bit too much food for us, but I can imagine other people having no issues.
The next morning we walked around the centre, stopping at The Chocolate House for a mid-morning dose of chocolatey goodness.
Located in a beautiful and historic 15th-century building directly opposite the Grand Ducal Palace, The Chocolate House prides itself on its high-quality products and offers visitors “a heavenly journey during which time simply melts away”.
While sipping on my Praline Nougat hot chocolate, and enjoying every mouthful, I found myself feeling completely relaxed and at ease. If chocolate with a view was a competition, The Chocolate House would be king.
Wandering through the historic streets, we passed by museums, monuments and official buildings. We also encountered some important political figures, who were only too happy to stop and chat with us and others around them.
This was the first but not the final time I would experience the friendly and open nature of the Luxembourgish people. There are no divisions and everyone is pleasant to those they meet on the street. With almost 170 different nationalities and cultures living and working in the capital, this was amazing to see.
For lunch, we visited the newly revamped Restaurant Amelys, located inside the five-star Hotel Royal, which caters mainly for business travellers.
With subtle chatter, this French restaurant is the perfect spot for business lunches or for those in need of an elegant location to enjoy their meal.
There was an excellent selection of small aperitifs to start with, with visitors choosing the options that caught their fancy at the buffet table. I decided to try the crab dish as well as the salmon wrapped in spinach and the goat’s cheese ball.
The lunch menu at Restaurant Amelys offers a choice between two mains and desserts (though there are vegetarian options available on request).
I chose the duck, which was full of rich flavours and went down a treat, though it was a tiny bit salty for my taste. The accompanying cabbage and Swedish potatoes were delicious.
My companion ordered the frog’s legs. She lived in Paris for 20 years and as such, was a good judge of the dish, which she branded as “c’est magnifique”.
The desserts were a slice of indulgence for both of us, with the Finger Namelaka & Biscuit Sacher being a true chocolate lover’s heaven.
A beautiful crunch from the dark chocolate mixed with the soft sweetness of the mousse and Sacher sponge cake made this dessert a winner.
The yuzu flavoured crème brûlée had elements of the traditional dish, but this particular take on the sweet treat was perfect for citrus fans and also for those who love a thick creamy texture.
With my sweet tooth, there was no way I couldn’t visit Oberweis. Innovative and creative with their products, Oberweis is constantly changing their menu with the seasons and with different food trends.
A family business, it was started by Pit and Monique, and their two sons, Tom and Jeff, have since poured their passion and expertise into the company.
While in the Oberweis flagship store, I sampled a Chocolate Pistachio Cake and immediately felt as though I had died and gone to heaven.
The rich chocolate centre was infused with ground pistachios and topped with chocolate truffles and more pistachios.
I can definitely understand why Oberweis is so popular. My companion tried the raspberry tartlet which looked delicious, but I’m more of a chocolate person.
Both Oberweis and The Chocolate House are suppliers to the Royal Court, which is in itself a stamp and seal of approval. Supplying the court means that your product is one of the absolute best, so it’s truly worth trying them.
After I had my fill in Oberweis, I tore myself away from the premises and checked into my hotel for the following two nights, the Hotel Meliã.
A modern hotel with a slick, contemporary design, it fits in perfectly with the surrounding financial buildings and the famous MUDAM museum of contemporary art – the perfect location for art lovers.
My spacious room was located on the hotel’s seventh floor and boasted incredible views of the city. If the pillows on your king-sized bed don’t quite suit your personal sleep preferences, the convenient pillow menu has a lot of options.
Breakfast in the hotel was quite substantial, with both continental and buffet options on offer. The Meliã hotel is a short 5-10 minute bus ride into the city centre or a 15-25 minute walk.
To try some authentic Luxembourg dishes, visit Brasserie du Cercle for dinner. From local to international, there’s something for everyone on the menu.
Eager to try something more traditional, I opted for the dumplings with a creamy onion sauce and bacon bits.
Resembling a pasta dish, the dumplings were both warming and filling and removed my need for a dessert. This is one of the more local spots to grab Luxembourgish food in the city centre.
My companions chose more international dishes, deciding on a refreshing scampi salad and a fillet of perch accompanied by a selection of vegetables.
As I happily sipped my glass of Pinot Grigio, the others at the table opted to try some local beer, enjoying their glass of Diekirch, the popular Luxembourg-brewed beverage.
Another good spot for lunch is Café Sino, located in the Casino Luxembourg museum. A buffet lunch with meats, stew, salads and a range of desserts, this is a good place to get a solid feed during the middle of the day, without settling in for a 3-course meal.
I returned here on my final night in Luxembourg. It was museum night in the city and Café Sino was packed with art lovers and there was just a brilliant atmosphere all round.
I enjoyed a lovely salmon dish in between exhibitions that night. Deliciously creamy and served with a side of rice, I felt energised after my meal – perfect for more museum exploring.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: The old city of Luxembourg and its ancient quarters have been part of UNESCO since 1994. Explore the 1,000-year-old fortress at your leisure, with the Bock Casemates and the views from within being the most impressive.
Grand Ducal Palace: The workplace of the Grand Duke, this stunning building is beautiful to look at from the outside. However, if you visit Luxembourg during the summer, from mid-July until the end of August, it’s possible to get guided tours of the Grand Duke’s town residence.
Wenzel Circular Walk: You can get a 2.5 hour guided walking tour through the history of Luxembourg, with tours from the tourist office available in English, French and German.
Museums: Luxembourg has seven museums of art and history, with the MUDAM modern art museum being the most famous.
My personal favourite, however, was the Luxembourg City Museum, which takes visitors on a complete journey through the history of this small but mighty city.
How To Get There
Currently, the only way to get to Luxembourg from Ireland is via the country’s national airline, Luxair, who offer daily flights from Dublin to Luxembourg.
For more information about all Luxembourg has to offer, make sure to check out visitluxembourg.com.
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.