Do restaurant awards guide your travel plans? You’ve eaten your way through New York, San Francisco, and Seattle thanks to the James Beard Foundation Awards. You’ve explored France and Japan courtesy of the Michelin Guide. You’ve even been lured to Bangkok, Copenhagen, and Lima by specific chefs. So how has a foodie like you not been to Luxembourg yet?
Luxembourg is the home of Léa Linster. You should know her name. The chef was the first—and, to this day, the only—woman to win the Bocuse d’Or gold medal. The world chef championship is considered the most prestigious gastronomic competition in the world. Chef Linster won it just seven years after opening her eponymous restaurant and two years after it received its first Michelin star.
Restaurant Léa Linster isn’t in Luxembourg City, as you might expect. It’s actually a half hour south, along the French border, in Frisange. The small town is the easternmost spot in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg’s southwest canton. You might notice a small château or an even smaller church as you pass through the town en route to the newish Centre Pompidou-Metz across the border. But otherwise, Frisange is unremarkable. Unless you’re on the lookout for one of the best restaurants in the country, of course.
You could easily pass by Restaurant Léa Linster without noticing it. The front facade blends in with the rest of the nondescript houses around it. The building used to be a gas station, which was owned by the chef’s father. It was a bistro, a bowling alley, and a tobacco shop before that. You’d never know it once you step inside. The large dining room feels luxurious with purple accents walls, lots of art, and sunlight streaming through the huge back windows. The lounge looks like a winter garden. The kitchen exposes the chefs at work. The wine cellar is cooled by volcanic stones. More tables, couches, and green plants fill the terrace. It overlooks idyllic meadows popping with wildflowers.
Like most restaurants of this caliber, dining here is an experience. The Bocuse d’Or tasting menu may only list four courses, but it’s accompanied by many tasty treats along the way. You start with a glass of sparkling Blanc de Blanc as an aperitif. It arrives with snacks. Herbed focaccia bread. Olive tapenade bruschetta. Salty bresaola. A poached quail egg. An amuse-bouche of bright peas, shellfish, and wasabi follows them. Then lobster and tomatoes are the stars of your starter.
It’s time for a break after the sweet seafood dish. A real break. You’re guided to the terrace to finish your glass of Chablis. A surprise—the chef herself—comes out to greet you a few minutes later. She’s excited about peas, blackberries, and the day’s perfect weather. She wants your honest opinion about the amuse-bouche, which her son, Louis, created. Plus she makes you eager for the grilled fish, the duck, and the numerous desserts that will soon be heading your way.
Then she promises to meet you back on the terrace for coffee after you finish dinner. It’s the only point that you wish that the meal would speed up. But only for a moment. Then you return to your table, and the fish, topped with a pepper crisp, is set in front of you. The chef, for a much different reason, will again have to wait.