Last fall, after a summer full of weddings and visits and friends and all sorts of excitement, I had clearly fallen behind on my reviews. So, in the spirit of starting somewhere, I started with a restaurant I had been eager to try for months: Le Flacon. I typed this one up fresh, put it aside for review, and then totally spaced out. So without further ado:
Why it was on top of the list of places to try out? It was opened by starred Michelin Chef Serge Labrosse of “Buffet de la Gare des Eaux-Vives” fame, before his second in command, Yoann Caloué, took over the toque and ladle in early 2015.
Never heard of it? Well, thanks to the *awesome* Canton of Geneva plan to build the CEVA, thus turning the Gare des Eaux-Vives (and so many other places in town) into a long term construction site, this one star restaurant had to close down. Because why would Geneva try to safeguard these little sparks of joy in our lives?
Thankfully, he found a new spot to call home, making very pretty dishes over in Carouge – where all the pretty things are.
What you get at le Flacon is a significant step up from the standard wannabe-classy Geneva fare. Most importantly in my book, Caloué is more daring with his flavor profile, and knows how to serve up a plate that’s very easy on the eyes. To start, I could not resist the slow cooked veal with burrata and tomato and cherry gaspacho. That’s right, tomato AND cherry, NOT cherry tomato. The combo was nothing I’d tried before, and while I can’t claim it was in perfect harmony, it was extremely delicious, and a refreshing change.
Next, I ordered the Pluma iberique (pork) as my main course, and rather than go classic Spanish, the dish came out with miso and sesame purée, and very nicely prepared summer squash millefeuille. Not oily, not overcooked, just right.
Perhaps the most gorgeous dish of the evening, and apparently very well prepared, was the lime-infused sea bass starter, served with turnips, PEACHES, and almonds. Now how’s that for unlikely bedfellows.
Of course, when you take a risk on a dish, you sometimes come up short. One of us got doubly unlucky, first trying on the foie gras starter (served with a “sorbet” Piedmontese made of hazelnuts, and a cherry sauce), which tasted scarily like a foie gras dessert. Thanks, but no thanks. His subsequent order of sweetbreads that normally melt in your mouth came out relatively tough. Well, you can’t get it right every time, but for the price we paid, we did hope for a little more consistency.
Finally, for you alkies, the wine list is extensive, and they have a very friendly sommelier who will pretty much tell you want you want (it is Geneva after all). He served us a white wine to handle our fish and sweetbreads and pork that left us all dubious when he proposed it. It turned out to be absolutely delicious, and practically amber in color. Most amazing though was the gorgeous aftertaste: 10 days later, I took a long shot and called the restaurant to ask what wine we had ordered. The sommelier himself answered the phone and asked me when we came and where we were sitting. And with that information alone, he was able to inform me which wine we drank. With that, he got me hook, line and sinker.
So there you have it, a potion of rare quality for Geneva: experimental flavor profiles in a relatively casual setting (despite the obvious high-end ambition of the restaurant). It’s a bit pricier than your average Geneva meal as a result, and for now at least, the success of the experiments are a bit hit or miss. In exchange though, you get friendly service, which is a real rarity in Geneva, n’est-ce pas?