For my first proper meal back on Swiss soil, I opted to have lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant. After looking at what was available, I chose Le Chat Botté at the hotel Beau Rivage. Framed by an intensely blue sky of a sunny spring day, the blindingly white and stately hotel faces Lake Geneva and the ever-familliar Jet d’Eau. Inside the restaurant, the too-bright sunlight was gently filtered by filmy curtains. The hum of French conversation, punctuated with the quiet pings of service, provided a layer of genteel white noise, muting the cacophony of construction on the street outside.

It was in the moments after I was seated that I took a slow survey of the room, trying to absorb it all: crisp, white linens; attentive, uniformed staff; gleaming crystal and china – all part of the fine-dining experience – but with a distinctive European flair. Finishing the sweep, my gaze returned to the over-sized menu in front of me where the half-moon of an ink-drawn cat’s face stared at me. Menu-cat was watching, and it was clearly time to peruse the menu.

After debating the merits of ordering à-la-carte versus a full-blown tasting, I settled on the smallest of tasting-menus: Le Déjuener. Despite the short description of “une entrée, un plat et un dessert,” I knew that that there would be more dishes than what was listed and so settled in for the long and leisurely meal that was to come.

We begin with the amuses, brought out on a dark-grey tile. The roll of celeriac and truffle “pearls” was a refreshing bite. The olive tapenade crisps were savoury and quite delicious, making me ponder how I could reproduce them. Looking to sun-dried olives, the confited olives (in ginger) were surprisingly sweet and only slightly salty.

Next was a delicious and visually delightful pea mousse with peas in a clear gelée. I loved the textures and fresh taste of the peas. On the same plate was also a bonbon of foie gras, dusted in forest mushrooms.

A slice of seared foie gras on top of more of the confited black olives we’d had earlier. About what you’d expect from foie – creamy, rich, and delicious. The olives and resultant sauce were sweet and an appropriate foil for the foie.

Our main is a wonderfully cooked fillet of John Dory fish, roasted with Sarawak pepper. With a sauce of confit lemon peel and rosemary, sided with spears of green asparagus. It sat on a mound of thick, mashed, potato.

A chestnut semi-freddo on top of a vanilla sable. With cream, chocolate crisps, and pistachio. Sided with a chestnut espuma, studded with candied chestnut.

And finally, the mignardises. From left to right: a lovely marmalade with cocoa nibs, madelines, salted caramel macarons, and a passionfruit(?) panna cotta. The madelines were lovely with the marmalade. The macarons were quite excellent and it’s hard to go wrong with salted-caramel, really. Crisp texture, chewy interior, good flavour – I had more than my allotted share. Overall, a pleasant way to end off the meal, despite me being pretty stuffed by this point.

I enjoyed my meal and consider it quite a good deal. But given that there are several other 1-star Michelin restaurants within walking distance, I would only contemplate getting a jar of that marmalade on a return trip to Geneva.

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More at Le Chat Botté

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