Geneva has always been a place with good taste, but a pioneering slew of bars, shops, cafés and pop-ups are helping to blaze a new trail in the food and drink scene. Here’s how to eat and drink your way around the Swiss city.
You can feel the love that goes into each and every creation at this irresistible fromagerie. Located on the edge of Geneva’s Old Town, Bruand is a cheesy treasure trove with fromage that’ll make you swoon. There are around 300 varieties here, and they come aged, ripened or unpasteurised. Look out for specialities such as Alpine cheeses from Valais; tomme de brebis with fresh truffle; and 24-month, cave-aged gruyère.
A Local Flavours three-hour chocolate tour whisks you into the backstreets of old Geneva, where you’ll learn about the city’s culture and history between frequent tastings of ganaches, truffles, pralines, petits fours and more. Enthusiastic guides take you behind the scenes to meet the bean-to-bar experts, who share how chocolate is made. You also get to visit patisseries; ice-cream parlours; and the chocolaterie where Grace Kelly, Winston Churchill and J F Kennedy once indulged.
Find a perch at this charming minimalist café that’s loved by Genevans. At Birdie, coffee comes with a flourish courtesy of barista Florence, who takes Fairtrade-roasted beans, then serves the coffee your style (from cortado to iced latte) and method (drip, AeroPress, La Marzocco). Meanwhile, the café’s chefs rustle up one of Geneva’s best brunches – anything from granola and brioche pain perdu with caramelised apple to avocado toast with smoked salmon and poached egg and gruyère.
For a shot of cool and hoppy craft beer, Au Coin Mousse never fails to deliver. Close to the Cornavin station, the gallery-style bar has plenty of edge, with a lively crowd and an ever-changing menu of artisan brews chalked up on a blackboard. Many of the 21 beers on tap are available in mini 1dl measures (perfect for an impromptu tasting). Highlights also include the Belgian Bière de Miel, an organic, honey-infused amber ale; and the Swiss L’Amer Noirte stout, made with mocha, cocoa and liquorice aromas. These pair nicely with home-made burgers (try the one topped with raclette cheese), bagels and charcuterie platters.
When the sun’s out, nothing beats the simple pleasure of joining the Genevois to mill around a farmer’s market. The one in Plainpalais is especially good (open from 9am to 2pm Tuesday and Thursday, and from 9am to 5pm Sunday), with its vendors selling fresh produce, cheese, saucisson, spices, honey and the like, as well as crêpes, tacos, falafel and porchetta (roasted pork) buns. Other excellent food markets include the Marché du Boulevard Helvétique (open from 6.30am to 2.15pm Wednesday and Saturday), where families sell seasonal, mostly organic produce grown on their bountiful farms, as well as charcuterie, cheese, flowers, preserves, local wine and rotisserie chicken.
If you like surprises, get yourself on the waiting list for Intensus, Geneva’s most raved-about pop-up food experience. This is no ordinary restaurant: the chef and location are only revealed 24 hours in advance. And, when you arrive, you’ll find a single table beautifully laid for just 12 guests. The chef is on hand to serve you champagne and personally explain the exquisitely composed 10-course menu of season-driven dishes. Yes, it’s expensive (390 Swiss francs all in with matching wines), but many say it far outshines any Michelin-star meal they’ve ever had.
The quaint, Sardinian-influenced quarter of Carouge is where maître chocolatier Philippe Pascoët works his magic. Inspired by places, moods and moments, his artistically designed ganaches – infused with herbs and spices – are out of this world. Make sure to also try his dark bars of grand cru chocolate, and pralines with unctuous passion fruit and caramel fleur de sel fillings.
Around 10 food trucks regularly dish up snacks to the hungry midday crowds at various locations across town. Keep an eye out for The Hamburger Foundation (awesome American-style burgers), Truck F (gourmet bagels), Funky BBQ (slow-smoked ribs, sticky pulled pork sandwiches and craft beer), Elsalad (salads and wraps) and Debi’s Kitchen (healthy Asian food). And for more delicious offerings, the city will be hosting a street-food festival in August on the Promenade Saint-Antoine, featuring DJs, brewers and winemakers.
Inspired to explore the largest French-speaking city in Switzerland? SWISS offers over 60 weekly flights from London to Geneva. For more information, visit SWISS.com
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