France Clarinval, editor-in-chief of the Explorator dining guide
Photo: Maison Moderne
Good news for foodies: one of Luxembourg’s best known dining guides is launching a new digital version.
On Thursday Explorator (published by the same firm as Delano) introduced new features to make it quicker and easier to find new spots. Delano asked Explorator’s editor-in-chief, France Clarinval, about the evolution of the guide and the Grand Duchy’s dining scene.
Delano: Explorator is turning 22; what’s new?
France Clarinval: The brand new thing is the launch of the new Explorator.lu website. Explorator was, as you said, founded 22 years ago; it was the first Maison Moderne brand and it was already online in 1996. Step by step, the website has been improved with more info, more search criteria, more interactivity, more pictures and more news. Now, we’ve added a completely new feature that merits a new design.
So, first, it’s now possible to book your table directly online. You choose the date, time and number of people, and, in one click, it’s done. You have a confirmation, as well, from the restaurant. Another new thing is the search engine, which is easier to use, and [lets readers enter search terms together] in one field. Finally, it’s now possible to make your own selection of the restaurants you want to try or to save as one of your favorites.
The other news is that the 22nd edition of the guide, that will be published in October, will be the last [in print]. We have chosen to focus on digital, since readers are more and more mobile and changes in the restaurant business come fast. So we’ll be more up to date.
What do you think is the most useful part of Explorator for expats?
Explorator is the only restaurant website and guide both in French and English. And the new website is fully translated, included the search engine. The editorial approach is useful for newcomers, so they can find something that suites them. We also added a new “inspiration” section where you can find Explorator selection of restaurants for different moods or moments, [such as] dinner with friends, romantic places, brunches, for sweet tooths.
Compared to other international cities, how does Luxembourg’s restaurant scene really stack up?
Luxembourg will never compete with Paris or London. But the market is really exciting, as there are new openings every month, the chefs are moving around, opening their own places. The difficult point for all of them is to find people who really want to work in a restaurant considering how hard it is.
I’ve observed a concentration of restaurants in the hands of a few groups. They have strong investment power and they develop interesting concepts, most of the time, inspired by the best practice in other cities.
What new “trend” in restaurants are you already tired of?
I’m quite tired of burgers! You find them everywhere, even in gastronomic places.
There is a lack of imagination on many menus: you find “tuna tartare”, “beef tagliatta” and “risotto” everywhere.
The problem is also that most of the restaurants have the same suppliers. So the same products. It’s hard work to find new products from local farmers or producers. Only high level restaurants can afford it.
I’m surprised that some cuisine, trendy elsewhere, are poorly done or not represented here, like Korean or Lebanese. I think there is also space for a high level veggie place. Some Michelin starred restaurants have veggie menu, but a real gastronomic veggie restaurant is missing.