In this issue, we bring you beef salad, an iconic Luxembourgian dish, which has been revisited with a sauce concocted by Bistro Quai in Grevenmacher. It is paired with Clos des Rochers Groärd Riesling, a prestigious Riesling produced in the vineyards overlooking the medieval town.
It’s been just over two years since Mike Hentges took over Bistro Quai and now the restaurant is finally in full stride. The fact it is booked to capacity with lockdown not such a distant memory is irrefutable proof of this. “We were pleased to see our customers returning so quickly,” says the 35-year-old owner with a smile. Its regulars actually never gave up on it. “We had to close for three weeks, after which we were among the first restaurants to set up a takeaway service. It worked very well.” While this initiative provided a vital shot in the arm, the return to normal service has proved highly beneficial. It has been aided by the restaurant’s interior layout and large outdoor areas facilitating social distancing measures due to the sheer amount of space available.
The key to the restaurant’s current success, which is finally scaling heights that the previous management struggled to reach, lies in a simple formula – the food exudes authenticity and honesty. “We serve simple but tasty food with a focus on traditional Luxembourgian recipes – to which we had our own touches – and fresh, local produce,” says the owner.
The wine list only features two Luxembourgian producers – Bernard Massard (including Clos des Rochers, Thill’s and Château de Schengen) and Domaines Vinsmoselle. This restriction has been imposed by its landlord, the Grevenmacher municipal authorities, in a bid to promote local business. The eatery is nevertheless still able to offer around sixty wines, only fifteen of which are not made in Luxembourg (reds and rosés). More than fifteen wines can be purchased by the glass.
Bistro Quai also offers packages enabling customers to sample bottles from its cellar. One of these provides a selection of six grape varieties (Bernard Massard Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois, Vinsmoselle Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, and a Clos des Rochers Chardonnay, all for €14 and 5cl per glass). Another focuses purely on Riesling (three Vinsmoselle and a Clos des Rochers for €13 and 5cl per glass). Or customers can opt solely for reds (a Vinsmoselle Pinot Noir, a Clos des Rochers Pinot Noir, a Bordeaux and a Portuguese red for €12 and 5cl per glass). “These packages are very popular among foreign tourists interested in getting to know Luxembourg wine a little better,” says Mike Hentges.
As a place to enjoy a bite to eat or a glass of wine, the restaurant certainly has no shortage of charm. The building, with its very bright, roomy interiors and contemporary architecture, offers unobstructed views of the Moselle. It overlooks the quay where the Marie-Astrid pleasure boat docks and a playground where children run wild and adults play boules. The terrace surrounding the building is a tempting spot for an aperitif!
Having completed his training at the hospitality school in Bonnevoie technical college, Mike Hentges cut his teeth at Simon’s Plaza in Potaschbierg, just above Grevenmacher. At the same time, he did a distance-learning course on wine waiting at the school in Bad Neuenahr near Cologne. Full of enthusiasm for the subject, he decided to develop his skills at the Maison Ruppert in Oberdonven. That’s when the opportunity to take over Bistro Quai came along and he seized it with both hands! “I set up a company and gave it a go,” he says.
His featured dish is very typical of the restaurant’s menu. This Bistro Quai beef salad with generous slices of meat is a revamp of the national dish, Feierstengszalot. “At its heart are thin strips of spicy beef. It is seasoned with fennel, olives and sun-dried tomatoes…” This Mediterranean touch adds a summery feel!
As a pairing for this flavoursome dish, the owner of Bistro Quai recommends one of the Moselle’s safe bets – a 2017 Clos des Rochers Groärd Riesling. This very mineral wine is fiendishly well-delineated and highly expressive. Nothing less would do to complement this dish! “I love this grape variety and this Riesling is my favourite,” says Mike Hentges. “Its fruit/acidity balance and harmony are perfect. And nevertheless, it’s very young. You could drink it in ten years’ time, or even more.”
When asked whether he had any doubts about choosing this wine, he replies with a smile: “I could have chosen a Pinot Blanc, which would have been more of a standard choice, but why not be more modern and try out more unusual pairings? Riesling is the king of grape varieties and the flavours in this beef salad perfectly complement the character of this fine wine.” There’s no arguing with that unequivocal response!