October 14, 2008

Simple food in Geneva - Day 1

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I'm in Geneva for a few days on business, exploring the city in my free time and sampling the cuisine at this cosmopolitan city. While I was lucky enough to get reservations at some Michelin-starred restaurants, I was equally excited about the simple, hearty cuisine of the region.

My first meal in the city was lunching solo at Le Relais de l'Entrecote, a restaurant only steps from my hotel. This happen to have been rated highly in Zagat's in terms of food, and as I passed by around lunch time, I popped in and got myself a table. This place is ultra busy. Waitresses were dancing around tables like bees pollinating flowers, bringing customers their plates of food.

There is only one dish here, and that is steak frites. There is a simple plate of salad, and pieces of baguette to start. Then the main event: a warm plate with half a portion of entrecote - 5 slices or so - is served with loads of thin, crispy frites. The waitress makes sure that you get plenty of the sauce, which tastes like a cross between pesto and green curry. I asked for medium instead of bleu, thinking that in French-speaking Geneva, bleu would be really raw. Well, the meat was pink on the inside, but a tad on the dry side for my taste. Guess I should have tried bleu... Or was it because the meat was so lean, unlike what I am used to at Entrecote in Hong Kong? Anyway. The sauce, as has been written, was delicious. I finish the steak and gobble up most of the large portion of frites.

As I was debating whether it was advisable to finish all of the frites, the kind waitress comes over an dumps the other half of the entrecote in my plate. I'm in shock at this point. I was grateful for the small portion of meat when it first arrived, as it would allow me to eat lots of frites without overstuffing myself. Now I realized - quelle horreur! - that the restaurant wasn't skimping on the meat. I was just about full at this point, but couldn't very well toss the meat back. I decide to give it my best shot, and end up taking down another 4 out of 5 slices in the second serving... I am stuffed, on the verge of feeling a little sick from the large amount of rich food. But I'm happy. This simple and delicious lunch is just what I wanted.

I blew off my friend Nunu for dinner that evening, as work took a lot longer than I expected. We gave up our restaurant reservation and she stayed home with the kids. Past 10pm, I am left with relatively few choices for dining venues. Nunu suggest that I look around rue de Pâquis - the colorful red-light district where there would be interesting choices of ethnic food. I make my way on foot to the neighborhood, and pass by a number of Turkish joints selling doner kebabs as well as some Chinese places.

In the end I settled on Auberge de Savièse, a Swiss restaurant mentioned in the outdated copy of Lonely Planet that I borrowed from a friend. I'm in Switzerland, so what else should I order but raclette? I start with a simple green salad, then proceed to enjoy two portions of the melted cheese. I was very tempted to have more cheese, but I was getting very tired and decided not to stuff myself at such a late hour. Satisfied with myself for having enjoyed the local specialty, I make my way back to the hotel and call it a night.

1 comment:

Rozmin said...

If you want something below medium but more done than bleu, go for saignant. This is how I usually get mine. :-)


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