Holy Cow, the burger joint of Lausanne fame, finally arrived in Geneva! With its Elvis Blue Cheeseburger ranked Best Burger in the Burger Blog 2010 Burger Awards, and after months of hearing about the awesomeness of this place from blood relatives and friends alike, it was imperatively on my list of burgers to test out.
Well, after all the hype, here’s my honest assessment of the place: it’s a great alternative to McDonalds, but don’t go expecting a gourmet burger.
The burger: I ordered Smokey Big Cheese and Bacon, to get an overview of the different burger elements. It comes with cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce, and caramelized onions. It was altogether a fine quality burger, although the flavors of the individual ingredients just kind of blended together, rather than standing out and complementing each other.
The beef patty that came out was relatively flat on a very large, homemade sesame bun (or at least what was trying to be a sesame bun). The beef held up to its reputation as being of very good grade Swiss beef – the Holy Cow President seems to know how pick ’em! The meat was very thoroughly cooked, too much so to my taste. Then again, as it is a fast food burger joint, I can’t imagine them asking each customer how they want their meat cooked.
Next up, the toppings: the cheese was essentially tasteless (which, in a place like Switzerland, is a real shame). The onions just got soft and lost in the BBQ sauce. And the bacon didn’t really stand a chance against the strong flavor of the BBQ sauce. But then again, I’m not the biggest fan of BBQ sauce to begin with, so I may be biased there.
The fries: I don’t have a picture of the fries unfortunately, but they are relatively wide cut fries that are quite “meaty”. Kind of like steak fries, but not quite as fat. They were crisp and not too oily, which was nice. My personal preference is for thinner fries, but I must say these were pretty good too.
The menu: with over 20 options to choose from beef to chicken to veggie burgers, the Holy Cow is certainly not lacking in diversity. Their prize winning Elvis Blue Cheese creatively combines melted gorgonzola, bacon, cajun mayo and caramelized onions! But you can also go for the pineapple/mint combo of the Maui Maui, or the satay/lime/basil mayo combo of the Satay Burger (just pick your pleasure, why don’t ya!) Chance that the expansive menu is full of options the chef hasn’t really mastered? Well, we’ll just have to go back and do some more tasting!
The green factor: This is where the place wins out in my book. All the products are from around this part of Switzerland. The buns are homemade, the beef is selected by the President of the company, and all the produce is grown regionally. I just want to have a word with their cheese producer and find out what’s going on there…..
The setting: The place has a bit of a Swiss chalet meets cafeteria feel. After ordering your burger at the counter, you have a seat at long, communal wooden tables with benches. There are about 8 of these in the restaurant, which is painted a sort of creamy mint green. The tiled floors and solid concrete walls make for a pretty noisy environment, so just be prepared for that.
Price/Quality: Burgers range from 10chf (for a simple burger) to 20chf (for a 330g burger with toppings). Add 6chf for a menu that includes fries and a beverage. This puts the Holy Cow on the low end of the price spectrum for Geneva, generally. However, for that price you would also hope for a somewhat cozier setting, rather than the fast food/chain restaurant feel you get from the Holy Cow. A little more attention to the decor would go a long way towards making the overall experience more comfortable.
Bonus: They really went all the way with their local theme: they even have their own beer! I’m not a big beer drinker, but this was quite nice with the burger. It’s light, and a bit sweet with some caramel like flavors. To the connoisseur sitting across from me, the beer should have had a bit more acidity and a leaner body to cut through the heaviness of the cheese and BBQ sauce. What’s nice though is that it’s not too fizzy, so you can work your way through that burger and fries without put your stomach through too much extra hell!
In sum: Go! Try it out for yourself, it’s a great initiative, worth supporting.. But go especially when you’re craving MacDonald’s or some other, much worse, fast food equivalent. If it’s a thick, medium-rare burger you’re looking for, skip it to save yourself the disappointment.