Tag Archives: brunch

Play that Funky Brunch

Just when you thought brunch was a bust. The moment that simmering fear started crystalizing in your head that brunch is in fact a cruel ploy to get you to pay extortionist prices for an omelet in high heels and a tiara. In that very instant of reckoning that we are living in a post-brunch world, brunch – or something like it – came to Geneva.

Of course, you’ll tell me, Geneva has had its brunch spots, from the haughty to the healthy. In days of yore, you heard me squealing about the elusive and exclusive poached 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 quiche, when what you really want are pancakes, bacon, eggs benedict and a bloody bloody mary.

So if you’ve followed my brunch posts, you’ll know my three rules of brunch: no buffets. poached eggs a must. and there must be booze. (That is what the b in brunch stands for, right?) Well, this week’s contestant is 1 for 3: food is served buffet-style, they do not have poached eggs, and they do serve booze. Arguably, the first two theoretical blunders cancel each other out, because who in their right mind wants a poached egg that’s been sitting on the buffet?

Funky Brunch

Funky Brunch, Geneva’s latest (successful) pop-up, appeared as a blip on the radar back in December 2013 at Fenomeno. A glance at the pictures that went up on fb at the time had me intrigued; but no, back then I had been burned by too many boozeless bircher brunches to risk another flop.

Now, at 1 and a half years old (what’s that, about 5 in restaurant years?) the Funky Brunch has gone from a blip to a bang, taking over a kitchen near you almost every Sunday. When I first arrived at Windows, the restaurant overlooking the lake at Hotel d’Angleterre, I was reticent. Of the two sittings available, I had reserved the early one at 10:45, and there were kids everywhere. I ain’t juding – just sayin. And there in the back was the usual classless buffet. In my skepticism, I grabbed a plate, put my head down and hit the buffet like a perfect little lemur: two scoops scrambled eggs, two slices bacon that’s been sitting around… excuse me while I face-plant in my plate.

eggs n bacon (and beef carpaccio)

eggs n bacon (and beef carpaccio)

But then. Oh, but then. When we regrouped at our table, my friends came back with entirely different food on their plates. Where had those colorful diverse salads come from? Green beans with orange peel? Fava beans and radishes? Bulgur with tomato and cilantro? Asparagus, haloumi and sun dried tomatoes?

red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue, I can sing a rainbow too

red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue, I can sing a rainbow too

While my eyes took in the confetti-looking food, a faint smell of fish and french fries tickled my nostrils, and out of the kitchen came marching a waiter with the first serving of fish & chips. A furtive glance to the left revealed a station with a roasted leg of lamb and gratin dauphinois with a light creamy mint sauce. Then someone else came back to the table like he’d seen the promised land: indeed, he’d just returned from the buffet of milk and honey – and cereals and pancakes, and – wait, are those cupcakes??

crispy and fatty and n'er too salty

crispy and fatty and n’er too salty

lamb, jus, mint sauce and some sneaky asparagus salad

lamb, jus, mint sauce and some sneaky asparagus salad

The offerings officially had me sold. Granted, not everything was perfect: the salads could have used some salt, and the lamb, while very tender, wasn’t so inspiring in flavor without its creamy mint sauce. But the OJ was fresh, the fish was crisp and the chips were thick, the salads were delightfully seasonal and refreshing, and the cheesecake was lip-smackingly sour.

DESSERTS: dark chocolate mousse to die for, sour cheesecake, rice pudding (?) and slightly oversweetened apple tarte

DESSERTS: dark chocolate mousse to die for, sour cheesecake, rice pudding (?) and slightly oversweetened apple tarte

So we plowed through, course after course, sipping our coffees, cucumber-celery juice, and Aperol Spritz as a DJ spun R&B classics that even the rug rats were dancing to. A clown appeared half way through my third helping of wakame-wrapped salmon to entertain the kids, and by the looks of it, they’d had some fairy visits too. Having come to the early sitting, we probably saw more kids of the short, pudgy, single-digit kind, who, I am guessing would be replaced by the tall double-digit stinky kind come second sitting.

And indeed, Funky Brunch has figured out how to reconcile the needs of all Geneva brunchers: from the parents wanting a break from the kitchen, to the Saturday night pack rats in for their carbicide Sunday boozer. A true place where little Joey can get his face painted while mama clutches her well-deserved Bellini (and yes I will have that refill, thanks).

Bon app!

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UPDATE! The Hamburger Foundation Restaurant, Paquis

A few weeks back I wrote a review of the new THF restaurant in the Paquis. In short? I said it was incredible and awesome, but that their “brunch” menu didn’t have what it took to get me out of the house on a sunday, and I also wasn’t sold on the iceberg salad with the slightly too sweet dressing.

Happy to update that on a return visit I discovered a huge improvement in the salad, which now included dark greens, and a tangy dressing that hits just the right balance of acidity before you attack that cheese and bacon burger. Yum.

Moreover, they’ve made the wise decision of putting brunch on hold. You can still get your basic breakfast though, which, I maintain, is still a welcomed arrival to Geneva’s food scene.

So in case you ever hesitated, head on over and enjoy the food and tunes!

 

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The Hamburger Foundation has kicked off its training wheels

It was a big weekend for this little foodie. For the first time in months, I had a whole weekend in town, so I was finally able to dig into a few activities I couldn’t have enjoyed otherwise. I planted my special tomato seeds, I lazed around in the sun, I went to FestiChoc in Versoix (stay tuned for more on that), AND I made my first hollandaise (and the sauce didn’t even break!).

To kick things off, Friday evening I finally dropped in on The Hamburger Foundation‘s new digs. I was nervous at first: what if they make a mean burger, but underneath it all are no different than the putz’ who run most Geneva restaurants? Another uninspired decor with the same menu at exorbitant prices? No thank you, I’m full.

To my delight, THF came through. Stepping into the restaurant sends you through some kind of warp zone: you’ve left Geneva and have landed in London, NYC, Madrid, or Oslo. The difference between this and other restaurants is simple: no pretense, design with flair, and a relaxed ambiance. Oh, and of course the standard, 100% reliably fantastic, simple burger.

It seems clear that the THF team is still testing waters. They have a cocktail bar going, which is super exciting for those of us who really need a fix after work. Since they didn’t have cranberry juice in stock for my usual “test” drink (the cosmo) I tried another old favorite, the whiskey sour, which I ditched years ago because the first thing bartenders do is reach for the sour mix… The THF bar seems to have avoided this basic mistake, BUT, still a little over-the-top sweet, and as much as I love sweet, at the end of the day, I’m more of a sourpuss than a sugar mama. The highlight: an artisanal blonde beer by Haute Savoie producer Mont Saleve: flowery, herby, with honey tones bringing the depth, it had enough complexity to stand up to a nice red wine.

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not a real sugar cane in there, but still a little too sweet for a sour

The burgers? Just as awesome as when you get them from the trucks. The fries however seemed a little less fresh than when they’re served at the truck, and their usually distinctive rosemary aroma wasn’t as present. Maybe just got a little unlucky and got fries from the end of a batch. One addition to the menu is an iceberg salad with a maple syrup dressing, which we wouldn’t have missed had it not been served. And at long last, I tested their cheesecake – PHENOMENAL, relatively light with a a beautiful creamy acidity, and the graham cracker base coming in with just the right amount of cinnamon, ginger and sugar to balance it all out. The apple crumble on the other hand, less exciting: it seems like they went a little heavy on the corn starch and sugar, giving it a syrupy consistency that reminded me a little of the McDonald’s apple pie desserts…  truthfully, its not bad, but I would go for the cheesecake every time.

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desserts

Come Sunday, I was trying to mobilize to test they’re brand new brunch menu. Sadly, it features more of a breakfast than a brunch: the morning burger sounds like your typical egg cheese and bacon sandwich (on a burger bun), eggs and bacon or sausages are a classic for Brits, Americans and beyond, and for the Swiss among the clientele, they have cereal, soft boiled egg, half a grapefruit….

Now, there are things I can really appreciate about this menu. First off, it’s great there’s a new ‘brunch’ place in town. And THF built its success on mastering simple things that appeal to a wide audience – but are they falling victim to that formula?  When push came to shove on Sunday  morning, it just wasn’t the menu that would get me out of bed and into the diner booth. Why drag myself across town when I can make all of the above plus eggs benedict right here at home?

No doubt I’ll be going back to this latest and greatest anytime I want a burger and a cocktail. And here’s hoping they keep the existing brunch menu, but tack on an item or two that will get me on my feet.

 

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August 1st: Brunch at a farm

Can you smell the bonfires yet?? August 1st is just around the corner, which means Switzerland will be celebrating (for a change)!

Aside from the outdoor parties, fire works, and Alpenhorn competitions, the day comes with its very own foodie tradition: brunch at the farm.

And this is a tradition that is very dear to my heart. I mean what better way to say  I ❤ Switzerland than by breaking bread with our farmers? In the countryside, amidst the flowing wheat fields, the smell of bacon and eggs on the grill infusing the air… what’s not to like?

Farmers sign up all around Switzerland to welcome neighbors and urbanites alike. In Geneva, you’ll recognize the increasingly popular Ferme de Merlinge that serves a lovely yard-side brunch followed by a mini train-ride through their vineyards. LIterally hundreds of others participate too, and you can find a farmer near you right here.

Better move fast though! Lots of places are already sold-out, but there are still a few spots left to grab in nearby Vaud, so on your marks – get set – reserve!

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Eating Cheap, Eating Well: Easy as 1-2-Quiche

From experimental plays to busking for beers at the fete de la musique, to hearing chill funky tunes spun at baby plage’s tropical outpost, this weekend has seriously brought out the best in Geneva.

In fact, perhaps the most terrible thing about beautiful weekends like this is that I just cannot bring myself to stay home and chill – even if chilling means cooking. This week however, I was on my mission to stick to the ingredients I had bought on Day 1 and not eat a single bite out beyond that. To tide me over the weekend, while not spending much time in the kitchen, I could think of no better option than quiche: it may take a couple of hours to make, but once it’s done, it keeps, and should hold one average eater through the weekend.

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The final product – cause I just couldn’t wait til the end of the post to show it off

So, for those who are keeping track of my challenge to eat cheap this week, I covered Monday and Tuesday in a previous post. On Wednesday, though I had planned to make a lentil salad with veggies, I got lazy and took advantage of some leftover chili that was left in my freezer by a darling cooking fairy who was leaving for the week. Thursday I snacked copiously at a fundraiser for GenevaWise, an inspiring foundation that provides bursaries to young professionals or university graduates from developing countries to do internships at Geneva’s international organizations (check it out!!).  FRIDAY, I had a family dinner at one of my top favorite restaurants in the Geneva area, which I am still debating whether or not to reveal to this audience (however small it may be!)

And that brings me to Saturday morning, when I woke up to another gorgeous day and hit the kitchen immediately, to get the quiche made, and head out to the sun.

I relied on Martha Stewart, the queen of all things domestic for a recipe. Trying to match a recipe to the ingredients I had left in the fridge, I settled for this Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche. AND, since I naturally didn’t have any store bought pie crust, I also went ahead and made that from scratch using this recipe right here.

In the kitchen with Martha!

The quiche mix itself was easy peezy. I followed the recipe exactly, except I only had a little broccoli left, so I tossed in some green beans I had left in the fridge, steaming them together with the broccoli to save time.

Onions about to get golden, greens gettin a steam bath

Onions about to get golden, greens gettin a steam bath

All together now: eggs, cream, veggies, onions, and cheddar cheese, getting all cozied up

All together now: eggs, cream, veggies, onions, and cheddar cheese, getting all cozied up

The pastry dough was a bit trickier. It all started when I noticed I only had one cup of white flour left, when in fact I needed 1 1/4. I supplemented it with whole wheat flour, which actually turned out to be really delicious, and way more flavorful than a regular white flour dough. Talk about a blessing in disguise.

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Raw

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The flour with a dash of salt, dash of sugar, and the diced butter already cut into the flour mix. Ice water up next!

The other issue I had with the dough is that it didn’t seem to want to become a mass. The recipe called for two tablespoons of ice water, and I just assume that it in fact needed quite a bit more to turn it into a user-friendly, rollable dough. After a couple of trials though, I finally got it rolled out thinly and evenly enough to get it into the pie dish, and off to the fires it went.

The dough in a disk, ready to hit the fridge to set for an hour.

The dough in a disk, ready to hit the fridge to set for an hour.

Once rolled out, the dough gets baked alone, under a bed of dried beans to keep it from bubbling up

Once rolled out, the dough gets baked alone, under a bed of dried beans to keep it from bubbling up

Once the pie crust was getting golden around the edges, I filled it with the quiche filling and popped it back in. 45 minutes later, I peaked into the oven to find this golden beauty waiting for me:

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Rough around the edges, but yummy at the core. Next step: making it pretty!

You have no idea how psyched I was that it turned out ok. In fact, it exceeded my expectations in both quality and quantity: Not only did it tide me over the weekend, there was enough to share with friends after a sailing session on the lake on Saturday, and to contribute to a most welcomed “imprévu” brunch on Sunday.

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Au P’tit Bonheur: Classic American Brunch, Classic Geneva Setting

SO SAD TO SEE YOU GO! THIS RESTO HAS BEEN PERMANENTLY CLOSED. 

On the ongoing quest for the perfect brunch, I finally made it to the place that supposedly has the one thing every other Geneva restaurant is lacking: eggs benedict. And I confirm, Au P’tit Bonheur has got the goods!

In fact, I really shouldn’t be telling you about this place at all. The food is good, the prices are good, and although it’s a bit out of the way in Chambésy, making the trip out there will not only provide you with a classic american brunch (with the right amount of Geneva touches, of course) it will also bring you into what I have always known as a classic Geneva, community restaurant setting. Head out there in the spring time, sit out on the terrace, check out the sparkling view of the lake, and remind yourself how good it is to be living in Genf.

The Menu: What can I say, as you will see, they have it all – including bloody maries and screw drivers for those of us who like their breakfast drinks with a spike! From eggs benedict, to omelettes, to steak and eggs, to french toast, I really think they cater to every taste. They even have bircher muesli etc for those who INSIST on spoiling the brunch fun. As a side note, their lunch menu looks pretty appealing as well. We saw a dorade grillé walk by that had my head craning so far over to the next table I nearly fell into it. Definitely something to go back for.

Amusebouche: Fresh OJ and the Pain au Chocolat!

Before we get to the plat de résistance, I had to endulge in the pain au chocolat, and I have to say I’m glad I did. Although the chocolate was a bit sweet to my taste, its chocolate bars were “al dente” – that is, with just a little bite under the tooth – which is exactly what I look for in a pain au choc. Brilliant. The orange juice came fresh pressed and was full of flavor.

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First Course: French Toast – golden, delicious

Having grown up in Geneva, my idea of french toast is a bit different (read: authentic) then the American version of French toast. So in this case, I was very happy to see that they made French toast the French way: small, somewhat stale bread, cut about two centimeters thick, and with just enough egg/milk batter so the bread takes on just the right soft texture. My one minor complaint is that I usually take mine a little more golden than the ones they served (see picture below). Other than that, yum. (And yes, of course it comes with maple syrup.)

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Main Course 1: EGGS BENEDICT!

Huzzah! I finally found the real thing! And served on a toasted english muffin too! Amazing! So these were in fact eggs florentine. Lets take it apart layer by layer. 1) The muffin was far from the best I’ve had. It was a bit dense and a bit tasteless. Still, it was an english muffin. Kudos for that. 2) The egg was perfectly poached, with the yolk both runny and at times just soft = unctious. 3) The spinach. You may think this strange, but it was the best thing on the plate. It tastes like they sauté it with a clove of garlic, but they also chop in the tiniest of pieces of shallot, which bring out the flavor of the spinach in gorgeous ways. Popeye would be so utterly pleased. 4) The hollandaise sauce was quite dense, but married beautifully with the spinach flavors. 5) On the side there you have some very good cubed, oven baked potatoes that totally remind me of my school lunches in the Swiss public system. 6) Sorry to end on a bad note, but those julienne vegetables on the side there were just a waste of space. I kind of got the impression they were out of the can. Waiter, can we get extra spinach instead of this riff-raff please??

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Main Course 2: The Omelette

Of course I never eat out alone, so I always get to try someone else’s food. More good reasons to eat with good company. Here we have the cheese omelette. It was very well executed (though perhaps a little overcooked?). However the cheese they used was completely unimaginative and nearly unnoticeable. With all the incredible cheese in this country and in neighboring Savoy, it begs the question… but WHY?

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Setting, price quality, etc: It was gorgeous out the day we made our way there, so naturally we sat outside. This is where the classic Geneva element comes in. Like any village restaurant in the canton of Geneva that has an outdoor area, you sit around well dressed metal tables strewn about somewhat casually in a bed of gravel. A typical Geneva nobby tree (you know the ones…) sits in the middle of the area, with big silvery rocks surrounding it. Sun shining, glistening lake, birds chirping. I heart Geneva in the Springtime. Oh, and the prices are a STEAL for what you get! 6.50chf for the french toast, 20chf for the cheese omelette, 26chf for the eggs florentine.

In sum: just yum yum yum.

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Bagel! at Café de la Paix

Bagel Brunch at Café de la Paix

After a number of recommendations and a looooooong night, I’ve finally made it to the Café de la Paix to try their brunch.

Granted, crawling out of bed seemed like an arduous task when I got the call for brunch. But knowing that this was THE opportunity to try this place out, I slinked into my clothes and scurried over to Plainpalais.

Why the effort? Simple. A New Yorker and a fellow foodie both flagged this place for having something Geneva has never experienced before: a good, genuine, New York bagel!

Let’s take a brief history lesson. In my lifetime, every bagel initiative has failed in Geneva. It was always clear they were pre-made, frozen and served dry and bland. And this was my opinion BEFORE living in New York for 8 years. So needless to say, when I heard the rumors about good bagels in Geneva, I flew.

The setting: The Café de la Paix is one of the oldest bars/restaurants of the Jonction neighborhood, and indeed it has all the charm of that slightly classical, slightly off beat wannabe retro feel you get at a lot of these Plainpalais/Jonction hot spots. 

The bagel etc: There was what seemed like an extremely long wait between the time we ordered and the time we got served, but all was forgotten when I bit into that bagel. Fresh out of the oven, plump but not too dense, with a crisp crust and subtle seedy flavor, this bagel was nothing short of a slice of heaven on a freezing Sunday afternoon. The coffee was very flavorful. I wished they had more coffee options to choose from, but since the one they served was so tasty, I can’t really complain. However, the hot chocolate was disappointing. The milk tasted like it was steamed at the coffee machine, and the chocolate tasted like it came out of a Caotina pack. Fine, not the end of the world, but nothing to write home about. As a chocofreak, I would stick to coffee or tea next time.

coffee in a ceramic shot glass

The menu: If some restaurants go over board on menu selections, the Café de la Paix does quite the opposite. A rarity in Geneva, I might add, to specialize in something so… specific. The menu consists almost solely of bagel plates. Bagel with salmon, bagel with roast beef, bagel with San Daniele, bagel with tuna… you get the drift, yah?  And since the bagel is THAT good, they can afford to narrow their selection to that degree. Kudos, really. They offer a breakfast platter for 11chf that includes one toast bagel, butter, homemade jam, one bircher muesli (because it just wouldn’t be Switzerland otherwise), a glass of fresh pressed orange juice, and a cup of something hot. The brunch platter for 25chf consists of 3 toasted bagel slices, plus all of the above, plus a plate of either salmon, roast beef or San Daniele, plus a bit of lettuce, tomato and onion, a dollop of cream cheese, and a cup of fruit salad. There are also other menu items that seem totally delicious that should probably be tested as soon as possible.

The Bagel Brunch Spread

The green factor: Straight up? I don’t know what the green factor is at this place. The jams and the bagels are homemade, but I did not ask about where their produce and other products came from. Guess I’ll just have to go back and ask ’em. 🙂

Price/Quality: The 11chf breakfast and the 25chf brunch are a pretty good value for your money. I would like to point out though that the amount of cream cheese they give you would never a full bagel cover – let alone 3 slices. These are what I would call “healthy” portions, but in the literal, not figurative, sense. This is not all together a bad thing, and in the end, it shows that a New York bagel can perhaps only be successful in Geneva when served in Swiss doses. Oh, and last but not least, don’t go if you’re a rush- the service is sssssssslllllllooooooowwwwwwww!


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Clubbing It at Hotel des Bergues

Word seems to have gotten around about the 5 dolla hot chocolate at the Hotel des Bergues (aka Four Seasons Hotel, for you newbies)! Friends and friends of friends checked it out as the cold set in and it seems we have consensus: it’s decadently delicious!

Among the crew, one fan returned for more. As hunger pangs were striking, she decided to order some lunch before delving into the warm, creamy hot chocolate for dessert.  She was psyched to find out they had a Club Sandwich on their afternoon menu. Her verdict? Best in town!

So last Sunday, after a truly solid night out, I crawled my way back over to meet her at the Hotel des Bergues to share the discovery in its packed, stacked and quartered glory:

Club Sandwich, Hotel des Bergues (Four Seasons)

Friends of Geneva and the blogosphere, let me tell you, I was not disappointed. The bread is toasted just right, so it’s crunchy on the outside, but still soft under the tooth, the bacon is crisp, and the turkey breast is perfectly moist. The salad in the middle is delicately dressed with a balsamic based vinaigrette, and although I forgot to take a picture of them, the fries that come with it are what every fry fanatic dreams of: thin, crisp, hot, and perfectly salted. What’s more, the whole thing is served with these darling little pots of mayo, ketchup and two kinds of mustard.

The catch? You will pay through the nose for it. Best not to even check the price, and indulge in it every once in awhile. (Need a hint? Well the hot chocolate is 12chf and that’s just a beverage so….. yeah. Brace yourself!)

But who are we kidding, after a long night out, a Club of this kind is absolutely priceless!

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