Les Roses: Playful touch

The interior of restaurant Les Roses at Casino 2000 in Mondorf-les-Bains Maison Moderne archives

The interior of restaurant Les Roses at Casino 2000 in Mondorf-les-Bains Maison Moderne archives

If the stakes are high at Casino 2000 in Mondorf-les-Bains, restaurant Les Roses is a relatively safe bet for diners seeking to be pleasantly surprised by both the quality of the food and staff.

The most exclusive of the three restaurants at the casino complex, chef Alain Pierron has reworked the fine dining menu at Les Roses to give centre stage to some of the finest meat and fish products from France and northern Europe.

At a press showcase, a handful of journalists sat in the intimate restaurant where staff first served a Vitello Tonnato starter, with braised local veal wrapped around crisp olive grissini. The playful presentation--they looked like meaty lollipops--added an unpretentious charm that put me at ease in what is ostensibly an exclusive dining location.

Head sommelier Thierry Corona also strikes the right balance between exclusivity, in the selection of wines he presents, and accessibility, in the way he presents them. His jovial character and cheery smile invite people to ask questions about the wines and, especially, about his tastevin, the silver tasting cup he wears on a chain around his neck.

Between serving a cool, fresh mineral Saint-Véran 2017 (Domaine de la Milleranche), an organic wine from the Saône valley, Corona laughed drawing comparisons between rappers and sommeliers. I later learned that had he not become a sommelier, his dream was to be a musician. Knowing that put the rapper comment better in context.

Moving into the following course, the Saint-Véran complemented well the following dish, langoustines from the Denmark coast (pictured below) served with pickles and presented in a neat bundle with the trademark green shoots, colourful petals and a light frosting of Vosges saffron. I wasn’t aware they grew saffron in the Vosges but this was just one example of how the menu served to challenge a lot of my ideas on food origins. The orange and ginger emulsion gave a festive feel to this dish and this appears to be something of a signature flavour as it emerged again in the dessert.

A petite parcel of langoustines from the Denmark coast finished with a dusting of Vosges saffron. Photo: Delano

At this point, we discovered the house bread, soft crispy loaves the size of a saucer, studded with pumpkin seeds, and cut into four. Bought in from the Fournil Hamois (near Thionville) the part-baked loaves are finished in the restaurant’s kitchen and served with espelette pepper. They’ve become famous in their own right with regular customers, who will be pleased to know they remain very much a part of the new menu.

For mains, my partner had the beef wagyu, extending the sourcing scope beyond Europe to Japan. Wagyu can be translated to mean “Japanese cattle” but in fact it only refers to cattle reared and fed within strict guidelines. Wagyu is known for its melt-in-the-mouth texture, which did not go unnoticed by my partner whose plump cut, from the Gunma province of Japan, was served medium-rare and with a teriyaki-style jus.

I opted for the broiled wild turbot fillet, a fleshy and hearty chunk of fish from Brittany, served with buttered herbs. It provided a welcome simplicity after the dizzying panoply of flavours from the first two courses. The fish was served on a bed of long, thin enoki mushrooms. The geometry was somewhat mirrored in the accompanying vermicelli noodles, which had been fried and gave a crispy contrasting texture.

The main was accompanied by the Signature red from Domaine des Amouriers Vacqueyras, an organic vineyard in Provence.

Dessert focused heavily on chocolate. Photo: Delano

We ended with the chocolate Andoa, pictured above, an organic Peruvian chocolate woven into a delicate lace cone peppered with gold leave, laid on a dense tower of ginger ice cream, encased in soft chocolate, on a chocolate brownie bed. It was a bold finale for chocolate lovers but a little overkill when followed by the café gourmande, accompanied by Tricentenaire chocolate, canelé and a little puff of candy floss, the latter another sign of the chef’s playful side.

Other changes to the restaurant include later opening times. Diners can now order up to 10:30pm from Thursday to Monday. There is also the gourmet dinner offering three chef’s suggestions, including two glasses of wine, water and coffee for €55 per person on Monday, Thursday and Sunday evenings. If looking for a place to have Sunday lunch with family or friends, Les Roses also offers a three or four-course lunch menu.