A Geneva Institution

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by jipp05 on January 21, 2013

Before visiting Geneva I did some research on places to visit, restaurants, bars etc. and one place that kept popping up on recommended places to eat was the Café de Paris. The more I read about the restaurant the more curious I was to visit and decided to hunt it out when we got there.

~~~~~~~~~~ Location ~~~~~~~~~~

Luckily for me I didn’t have to hunt very hard and the restaurant was literally located a few metres from the hotel we were staying in making it really convenient. It is located on the Rue de Mont-Blanc which is one of the main roads from the train station down to the lake so it is pretty easy to find. It isn’t in the most picturesque location as its neighbours include Starbucks and McDonalds but there is no doubting it is convenient to get to.

~~~~~~~~~ What makes it different ~~~~~~~~~~

The Café de Paris has been running successfully in its present location for the last 80 years. What makes this restaurant a little different from all the other restaurants in Geneva is that it only serves one thing on the menu. For 41.50 CHF (around about £28 in December 2012) you get a starter of green salad and an entrecote served in the restaurants own special sauce. Included in the price is chips but drinks and deserts are extra. I was curious as to how a restaurant only serving one thing could not only survive but thrive in the competitive Geneva food scene. I assumed that over 80 years they must have perfected the steak and was looking forward to trying it out.

~~~~~~~~~~ The restaurant ~~~~~~~~~~

We visited the restaurant on a Thursday night a week before Christmas so I expected it to be busy but the place was absolutely heaving. We were lucky as some people were leaving just as we arrived so we managed to get a table straight away but I would recommend that you book as anytime we walked past it on the way from or back to the hotel it was packed and apparently this is normal no matter the time of year so popular is it. During out meal it started to get even busier that by the time we left people were queuing out the door waiting for a table.
The restaurant is decorated to resemble a traditional Parisian bistro and it does this pretty successfully. The tables are small and all pushed close to each other and couples might have to share a table with other people. Normally I hate places where the tables are so close together but here it didn’t bother me as it had such a lively atmosphere that we all felt able to talk without having to whisper or worry about disturbing other patrons of the restaurant.
One thing which I did think was a little strange but also quite charming was the fact that the whole restaurant had been decked out with teddy bears everywhere. On shelves, hanging from the ceiling and even in the windows. At first I thought this must be how it always is but then I noticed all the teddy’s were dressed with Christmas clothing. It was a little odd but as I said I actually liked it as it added some charm to the place.

~~~~~~~~~~ The food ~~~~~~~~~~

My expectations were high for the food and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed. The service was very swift and very ‘Swiss’ i.e. to the point and not overly congenial. The waitress seated us and almost immediately we were presented with bread rolls and our green salad and asked how we would like out streak cooked.
The salad was just some lettuce leaves but the dressing was absolutely delicious and one of the nicest salad dressings that I have ever tasted.
In the middle of the table there was some kind of heater which was lit by our waitress when she brought our steaks over as the steaks come on a large silver tray covered in sauce and they put them on the heaters to not only keep it hot but to also melt the sauce. There were four of us eating at the restaurant and there was two trays to share between two people. Each of us had ordered our steaks to come in a different way but it was all cooked exactly the same in a medium rare way. This wasn’t really a problem for me as I like it this way but my friend who likes it well done wasn’t too happy.
We left the trays on the heaters to melt the sauce a bit more and when it was bubbling we started dishing up. I can honestly say that the sauce that comes with the steak was absolutely delicious and like the salad dressing was the nicest steak sauce I have ever had. They certainly weren’t stingy with the sauce but I did think there would have been a little bit more meat especially as two people were expected to share it. To be honest though because the sauce is so rich it is probably just as well there wasn’t even more meat.
When we had finished out steaks we asked for more bread as there was still so much sauce left and we wanted bread to dip in it as it was that nice. I dread to think how unhealthy the sauce is as it is made with pure butter. I didn’t care though as it was so delicious.
As part of the menu you are entitled to three portions of chips but with the extra bread we only actually ate two portions.
Afterwards we decided to also have desert and asked for the menu. The desert section wasn’t extensive but there was enough choice for most people. I ordered profiteroles and this was definitely not up to the standard of the main meal. They were obviously not freshly made as the cream was still frozen in the middle of mine. No one else thought their deserts were anything to write home about either but I do have to say that the main menu made up for the poor deserts.

~~~~~~~~~~ Conclusion ~~~~~~~~~~

The steak at Café de Paris is absolutely amazing thanks mainly to the gorgeous sauce it comes with. It really does have to be tasted to be believed. The service was ok but like everywhere we visited in Switzerland the service left a lot to be desired. The waitress was polite enough but like everywhere in Switzerland we visited we weren’t made to feel particularly welcome. The service is efficient though and this isn’t somewhere you will go and linger. The food is served quickly and you do feel like you need to hurry as there are people waiting for your table.
I would still happily go back as the steak was some of the best I have ever had and for Switzerland the price was fairly reasonable for the food anyway as the drinks were exorbitant. If you are in Geneva then I would highly recommend hunting this place down as it is a Swiss institution and a favourite with both locals and tourists and has been popular for so long thanks to how good the food is. You would expect a restaurant with only one thing on the menu to have perfected it and I am pleased to say that this one has.
Café de Paris is open seven days a week from 11:00am until 11:00pm.

Cafe de Paris
26 rue de Mont-Blanc
Geneva, Switzerland
022/732 84 50


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