Opposite Geneva’s museum of contemporary art (MAMCO) in an artsy neighbourhood of Geneva, Café des Bains is a trendy, chic restaurant with a large, street side summer patio. The menu is an eclectic mix of world cuisine complemented by a large wine selection. The perfect place for a summer evening dinner.
After an atypically hot day in Geneva spent wandering around the vast Lake Geneva, I made my way to Café des Bains. It wasn’t too hard to find (thank you Google Maps) and the 20 minute stroll from the Geneva water jet lead me through an interesting artsy neighbourhood of Geneva with modern art and architecture dotted in amongst all the expected history. I arrived on time for my reservation and was promptly greeted and offered a seat outside on the street-side patio. The extremely friendly and attentive server quickly figured out that I was not a native French speaker and she efficiently switched to fluent English without any sign of annoyance (always a good thing). The menu is a simple affair of seasonal produce and, apparently, changes quite often and the wine list is large and varied with a mix of local and foreign wines.
As an appetizer, I decided to try the special of the day which was a Pan seared Scallop with Mushrooms. Admittedly, this was is not the hardest dish to prepare but it would be an easy dish to test the freshness of the ingredients used. – and fresh they were! The scallop was perfectly seared and not overdone, as most places tend to do these days. The sweetness of the scallop flesh sung through and combined well with the woodiness of the, also perfectly done, fresh and chewy mushrooms. A thoroughly enjoyable, beautiful looking and encouraging appetizer indeed!
I read and reread the menu over and over and simply couldn’t decide on a main course. Options were so varied ranging from Thai massaman curries to Swiss staples and Italian veal Milanese. Eventually, I was convinced to try the Black Cod caramelized in miso, which the waitress claimed was ‘Nobu’ inspired. Like many, I’m a fan of Nobu and his cooking so it would be interesting to see how this would compare to that benchmark. The plate arrived, again beautifully laid out, with a healthy portion of cod that was caramelized just perfectly. The fish was neither overdone nor over seasoned and it simply melted in the mouth as the symphony of flavours played on the tongue. The radish salad that accompanied the fish, however, was a bit disappointing. Whereas it was a medley of fresh grated vegetables, the radish was bland and watery – a stronger, more potent radish flavour was definitely needed here. Also, instead of steamed jasmine rice, I felt that a small serving of brown rice would be better suited to this particular dish as it would introduce some texture and bite. This is not to say that the dish was bad, it certainly wasn’t, but it could have been mind blowing and perhaps worried Chef Nobu.
So far, I had kept myself to fairly light dishes simply because the heat of the evening was certainly not conducive to eating a heavy meal. Thankfully the dessert menu was also light and summery and my waitress simply marched up and said “you must try the cheesecake!”, and so I did. Again, the plate was beautifully presented and the Cream Cheesecake with Fruit Coulis was magnificent. A light and fluffy topping on a golden crisp and crunchy base served with dots of fruit coulis which I ended up licking off my fingers after the cheesecake had long vanished. This was one of the best cheesecakes I had ever eaten. Not a single part of it was overpoweringly and sickeningly sweet – bravo.
As I sat sipping my wine, I had to give a thought as to how I would rate this restaurant as I was struggling a bit to place it, so I just asked my self the 10 questions I ask myself (details in the ‘about me’ section) when I need to be objective and the restaurant faired well. Café des Bains is a ‘Very Good’ restaurant. The food is fresh, creative and artistic but perhaps needs a little more work on small things such as that radish salad. Service and ambience are great. As for value, when adjusted for the fact that Switzerland is the most expensive country in the world, the price was fair. All-in-all a very pleasant evening and dinner that I would not hesitate in recommending.
‘Triple F’ Factor 0/1