The Bare Necessities of Brunch: Brasserie des Halles de l’Ile

There are few things that I take more pleasure in than Sunday brunch. To those who enjoy a good Saturday night on the town, brunch is more than just a good meal, it’s a survival mechanism. Right when you think nothing else in the world is going to peel you out of bed, just imagine your eggs, ham, french toast and coffee and you’re out the door.

All this makes me want to say that there’s no such thing as a bad brunch, but nothing could be further from the truth! And Geneva’s restaurants have a way of testing this theory in the most frustrating ways.

So this will be the first of a number of posts assessing brunch places in Geneva. First up: the brunch at la Brasserie des Halles de l’Ile.

Today was just the second time I’ve been there. Because in all the brunches I’ve ever had in this country, nothing really beats the home made brunch where you can really taylor it to your specific tastes. But from time to time, I believe that there must be a decent brunch spot in this town.

Les Halles offers a prix fixe all you can eat buffet brunch. For 39chf, you can get your fill of scrambled or hard boiled eggs, meat, fish, salmon, salad, quiche, mini pastries, waffles and desserts. Plus coffee and some other bells and whistles. While I can’t complain about the taste of the food, I’m just not that sold on the place. And here are a few reasons why.

  1. The place is noisy and freezing. If you’re rolling in here at 1pm on a Sunday, you’re probably hungover, and the last thing you want to have to do is curl up into a ball, clutching your coffee.
  2. The service sucks, though to be fair, perhaps not any more than at any other restaurant in Geneva.
  3. The buffet is abundant, but because it’s a buffet, the food is always lukewarm at best.
  4. No eggs a la carte. Why is it so hard to find a brunch place that serves omelets or eggs benedict in this town?
  5. No fresh pressed juice. Fail.
  6. Their waffle mix is too oily somehow.
  7. While you can drink yourself into a caffeine coma on free coffee, you have to pay extra for any other beverages, including cappuccinos. Add 4.50chf to the 39chf flat fee and you have yourself an expensive brunch. Which leads me to the last point…
  8. It’s just overpriced. You can get better for less at other restaurants. I’m sure of it.
So why is it still so hard to get a table on a Sunday? I actually don’t have a great answer to that question. But I’d be hard pressed to deny that it’s a good location, its big, they have a nice spread, and the food is good. I’d particularly recommend the quiche. After that, well I guess each to their own!
I’ll be testing other places in the weeks and months to come, so comments welcome if there’s a place I shouldn’t miss!
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9 thoughts on “The Bare Necessities of Brunch: Brasserie des Halles de l’Ile

  1. Juliette says:

    Couldn’t agree more with everything!! Except…the waffles: It IS oily, but that’s one of teh things I enjoyed the most!

  2. sarafc says:

    It is always so COLD there!
    I agree… though think it’s very popular because it’s one of the only spaces in Geneva that is easy to navigate with a stroller. At least last time we went there it felt like that – Try out au petit bonheur, they’re supposed to do good eggs benedicte!

  3. Good eggs benedicte? Done! It’s officially on my “to eat” list…

  4. Try the brunch at the Ramada hotel next to the airport. It’s les Halles de l’île on steroids and about 5 CHF more if I recall correctly. Book as it’s super popular!

  5. I suggest trying Alhambra, I went their once for brunch and it was pretty good and definitely not as expensive as the Halles. Also, fresh pressed juice. On the other hand, you have to book early coz it gets very busy. Other option: Le Cheval Blanc in Carouge. More expensive but good as far as I can remember…

  6. Naïma says:

    I had brunch at Café de la Paix last sunday, and though there were no eggs in sight, it was warm and yummy (homemade bagels!). I avoid Halles de l’ile on a Sunday at all costs can’t handle the crowds. Their brunch is cheaper on Saturdays because their buffet selection is smaller but the place is so nice and quiet that it makes a massive difference.

  7. […] egg (which, last I checked, can still only be found at Au P’tit Bonheur), the unacceptability of buffets, and the obstinacy of Swiss brunch menus having to include copious amounts of bircher muesli and […]

  8. […] frankly, they are slow, badly organized, and I’ve witnessed one too many creeps lurking around. And I don’t like their brunch. Still, I go, because, you know, […]

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