Auberge de la Couronne: the countryside’s best kept secret

In the About section of this blog I talk a bit about valuing balance in cooking and eating. Part of that balance to me is also about totally splurging every once in a while. You know, kick off the shoes, let off some steam, scratch the itch. And yes, there comes a time in a green gourmande’s life (or year. or month. or week…)  when she just has to toss caution to the wind, take the current as it serves (as it were)…. and live downright indulgently.

And that is when you decide to go to your favorite restaurant. 

Well, favorite. How do you reallly pick a favorite? The restaurant you choose on any given night usually has more to do with what you’re in the mood for in.that.very.moment.  Maybe you typically love Italian the most, but tonight you just have to have sushi. And until Geneva comes up with New York’s variety of fusion cuisine, well, you gotta pick just one.

But then there are those restaurants that top the list when it comes time to celebrate a special occasion. Or that comfort you need when you’ve had a sh*tty week and you want to treat yourself. You went there since you were a kid every time your family came to visit and have these warm, fuzzy associations with the scripted name on the awning, the cast iron light fixtures, the creaky wooden chairs, and the rural neighborhood atmosphere that, to me, is the origin of the restaurant.

The Auberge de la Couronne is that place. Located in rural Geneva, right on Jussy’s village square, with the Saleve and the vineyards as a backdrop, this little village inn makes you feel like you’re in your own neighborhood dining room. The people are real. They live down the street and pass their craft down to the following generation. The service is simple and warm. And above all, the food – the food!

The menu is traditional from start to finish: salade de chevre, salade gourmade with foie gras, filets de perches, chasse during the season, tuna or steak tartars, entrecote with your choice of sauces, and a dessert list that includes tarte tatin and all its classic compatriots.

But after (how many??) years of driving out there, we don’t even need to crack the menu open anymore. For any meat eater, the first choice, hands down has to be the chateaubrilland, aux morrilles, with seasonal vegetables and french fries. The mushroom sauce stands out as one of the most naturally flavorful and unctuous I’ve had, and the meat cooked to  tender perfection. I also will go out of my way to go there just to eat their french fries, which are of the thin, delicate and crispy sort – not oily, not oversalted, not ‘meaty’ like those other fries tend to be.

The whole dish spells elegance and decadence.

Presenting: Chateaubrilland aux morilles

The best Coupe Denmark this side of…. Denmark 

As someone who has an extremely demanding and temperamental sweet tooth, I tend to pick my dessert before my main course. You know, in an attempt to have some sort of coherent and balanced overall meal. But again, as you may have caught in the about section of this blog, I judge a restaurant primarily on its dessert, and particularly on its Coupe Denmark, if it’s on the menu.

Which is what I consistently order at la Couronne. Call me crazy, but I think this is the last restaurant in town that actually melts down its own dark chocolate sauce. What, you think it’s not an art? Clearly you haven’t tried this chocolate sauce. It is thick and dark, buttery and warm, and served at that point perfect temperature where it will neither congeal when it hits the ice cream, nor will it melt the whole thing into a soggy mess. Nope, not this chocolate sauce. This sauce stands on its own, allowing the vanilla ice cream to speak for itself when it hits your palate. A  perfectly harmonious union.

(Half portion of) Coupe Denmark

Beyond the classics

Everything I’ve tried on the menu is good, but the other main attraction to me are the filet de perches. Best to get those in the summer, when they are usually fresh from the lake. My dinner companions also favor the tartare, and although I don’t know much about this dish, they assure me it is worth the trip as well. In general, best to go with people you’re close to for good wine, good food, and lots of good discussion. You’ll live feeling nourished in every sense of the term.

Details: 

Not the easiest place in the world to get to, but if you have a car, you can put this into your google maps app. If you’re going by bus, you can take the C from Rive to Jussy-Place.

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