Restaurants & Bars

Ferney-Voltaire (Geneva Adjacent)

Busk | May 18, 200812:10 AM

Since Geneva has so few places that are worthwhile, many seek dining options in nearby France. Since my relocation back to Europe, I've had the chance to check out Le Pirate and l'Hotel de France in Ferney-Voltaire. Both were recommended, but only one lives up to its positive reviews: Le Pirate.

Le Pirate is a big, 70's style seafood place, like you might hit on the Cote d"Azur during high season: all crowded with people having a good time . It delivered the goods with fine ingredients, solid service and better than expected wnes. Not too many risks taken, but if you don't do fish well, you see a lot stuff sent back to the kitchen. Le Pirate probably doesn't. I had an excellent lobster salad with a pile of fresh green beans and some other cold prepared vegetables. My woman had a big menu focused on coquille st. jacques which was not gastronomic, but was a hit for all 7 courses. Excellent premier cru chablis accompanied. I'll be going back. Budget about 70-80 euros per person.

Hotel de France: What a bust. This place goes for gastronomy, the stuff that gets you a star, but is so far from that level of talent, that I was left wondering if the kitchen could even pull off a simple bistro menu. We both ordered the 66 euro menus which was the top offering. Nothing was seasoned properly perhaps due to hypertension concerns. I had a tuna three ways plate that was all wrong. The sauce was a bottle of Thai sweet and spicy red glop. The tuna brochette was not seared, but baked in the oven to a zero-flavor result. The tuna maki had undercooked rice and was flavorless. I saw salads with canned corn dumped on top. The wine list was balanced but showed no opinion or imagination, probably best considering the help couldn't recommend glasses to accompany the courses. They tried, but then ignored us for the rest of the meal, so we only drank one under-poured glass each. Vegetables on all courses were flavorless or undercooked. There were frozen and canned bits throughout. The dessert trolley tasted all cheap. The meal resembled American Airlines business class. What a drag as it was my wife's B-day and we don't get sitters too often. There seemed to be a decent crowd for a Saturday night, but I doubt they get many returns. The cheese service was the only redeeming part of the meal.

So there you have it. If you are in Geneva head over to Le Pirate in Ferney, but avoid l'Hotel de France.

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