Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Geneva Restaurant Review: Cafe de Paris

Cafe de Paris is a Geneva institution, absolutely famous for it's sauce, which many people love. We decided to go there last night, because after being here a long time we hadn't actually tried it yet.

Service: Not great, even by Geneva standards. Not bad either, but definitely nothing remarkable.

Wine: We had a Gamay de Geneve. I don't know any more about it as it was served in a pichet, not in a bottle, but I'm sorry I didn't ask to see the bottle because it was a very nice wine! For 50 cL we paid 16.50 CHF, which I thought was a pretty good price considering how much I enjoyed it.

Dinner: This began with a green salad. The greens were nice, not limp and lifeless like in some places (although I encounter yummy salad greens more often here than in American restaurants, anyway). The dressing was not like the typical French-restaurant-dressing, which is kind of creamy in consistency and very mustardy tasting. This was much more like an oil and vinegar kind of dressing. I liked it. The bread they brought us was normal, rolls that were crisp on the outside, soft inside. They were served at room temperature. Next came the entrecote. We had both ordered it cooked saignant (rare) as we do at all restaurants. When it came it was instead quite bleu. It was served on a heated trivet, sitting on top of the famous sauce, and we were given plates of frites. Before trying the meat, I first dipped a little bread in the sauce, really excited to try it. Hm, I thought. It tasted strange. Right away, I remembered the first bite I took of the brownies that I made a year ago, inadvertently with butter that had gone rancid. Yes, that's right, I thought that the renowned sauce tasted like it was made with rancid butter. That can't be right, I thought. It must be some weirdness, I'll try it with the meat and the fries instead and then it will taste like it's supposed to. I tried it with the (very undercooked, and just a little tough) meat and the fries. Still tasted rancid to me.

It wasn't just me. I asked my BF how he liked it, and his response was, "It's ... interesting." We both agreed we didn't like it. I am hoping that that isn't how it's supposed to taste. He said that he didn't think it tasted like the butter had gone bad, that it was probably just some strange ingredient we didn't like, but I don't think he's every tasted butter like that before. I certainly hadn't until the brownie incident.

Additionally, the sauce was VERY salty, and had a little bit of a fishy taste, but not in a pleasant way. I consider "a pleasant way" to be as in the subtle taste of anchovies in a nice Caesar salad dressing.

The fries were quite standard. They give you more if you still have meat left but have finished your first portion.

The whole salad + fries + steak combo is 41 francs. I would say it's about 200 grams of meat per person.

We declined to take dessert. They were pricey. 10 francs for a coupe of fresh raspberries. Ice cream more expensive than you can get at Movenpick two blocks away. The people next to us got creme brulee and it looked pretty normal, nothing special.

Overall impression: Very disappointing! I will not go back. The salad and the wine were quite enjoyable, but the steak and sauce, just bad. I can understand they undercook it because it "cooks" some more on the hot trivet, but then you just end up with raw on top and well-done on bottom. If you want steak frites in the Geneva area, much, MUCH better to visit Cafe de l'Aviation in Vernier. Their sauce is spectacular (if also a little salty). It's served on a plate, and so it stays at just the "doneness" it's supposed to. There they give you endless refills on frites AND sauce. And the price is the same or cheaper. They also have excellent wine!