Last night Mr. X, sharing a passion for good food and good restaurants, kindly invited me to the opening night of a new top notch restaurant, L'Auberge des Groulines.
The restaurants is located about 40 minutes outside of Geneva, in the French countryside. This idyllic location, while rather hidden, provides dinners with a sense of adventure (and accomplishment to find it!) as well as majestic views of the Jura and surrounding mountain ranges.
L'Auberge, while brand new, is very promising. Well situated, well decorated, and fine food served in a well presented manner. Mr. X believes they may be presented with a Michelin star within the next few years. We were feeling adventureous and declined to look at the menu. Chef Patrick Lozach surprised us with a very complete tasting menu. Without further ado....dinner is served.
The experience started off with a small aperitif, a Kir Royale Framboise for me and a Champagne for him.
The mise en bouche was a promising start for the rest of our meal. The small zucchini flower was the perfect packaging for a summer vegetable and baked egg mixture and was accompanied by a zingy grape tomato and olive oil. It was very cool in the mouth and had a good texture, it was wonderfully flavorful but not overwhelming. A tastebud teaser to lead into the next dish.
This 'pressed vegetable' dish was like 'eating a garden'. Chef Lozach continued with his summer vegetable theme and seems to cook in an almost Italian manner (Italian in the sense that the food tastes like what it is. Each item is fresh and bursting with it's own natural flavor), rather antipasti like. The pressed vegetables included were thin layers of zucchini, eggplant, tomato and a small rucola sidesalad adorned with parmesan wafer.
The next dish to tickle our tastebuds was a poisson cru presse dish. Let me mention we also had a bottle of white wine from the center regions of France but I can't recall just now what it was, other than a fine accompaniment for our fresh and light dinner. This dish, while similar in technique to the last one (perhaps presented too closely with the last one to be of the same technique?) was a strange but not unwelcome mix of flavors. There were two layers of fish, salmon and tuna I believe, topped with small sprigs of white and green asparagus. Hidden inside were small diced bits of zucchini and the plate was decorated with an herby yogurt sauce and orange marmalade drop as well as a thin-as-can-be fried sheet of phyllo hiding a ginger paste core. This was Mr. X's favorite dish of the night. I am sticking to the mise en bouche as mine.
Things started to heat up a bit with these tiny bites of rouget surrounded by a baby eggplant stuffed with herbed mashed potatoes and baby zucchini stuffed with mushrooms all topped with crispy fried shoestring onions and tomato peel. It was a well plated dish, very visually appealing and quite tasty as well. The blend of bitter vs. salty vs. tangy was very well balanced and the surrounding olive oil with tomoto and chives was delicious.
The filet de sandre (pike perch?) was rather bland. Summer veggies again made an appearance with some green beans, tomatoes, a slice of zucchini and a baby carrot. The sauce was quite good but in my opinion not enough to make up for the fish. I do offer this disclaimer though, as a born and bred landlocked midwesterner I am not the world's most definitive guru on all things fishy. Where I grew up fish came one of two ways....as a stick or in a can. I'm slowly getting better about it but just saying...
By the time the cheeseplate came around I was practically full til bursting, only the thought of dessert kept me going. The plate featured reblochon, comte, abondance, and bleu de gex varieties of cheese and was accompanied by a fine whole grain and nut roll. Mr. X ended up with most of my cheese, as I said, I was holding out for dessert.
At last, the part of dinner all restaurants really ought to serve first! Dessert wrapped up our meal neatly by finishing up the light and refreshing summer fare (even if the weather didn't suitably reflect the season). A variation on a strawberry shortcake sort of dessert, ours highlighted June by using fresh blueberries, raspberries, strawberries cherries and red currants winking from the whipped like jewels. All of this was loosely sandwiched by two sable type cookies, the only thing I disagreed with. As a light summer dessert it would have been night to see them use some light pyllo sheets like in one of the earlier dishes or perhaps a fluffy meringue cookie like they do in Gruyere.
All in all it was a fantastic experience and a taste of things I shall not forget for sometime. Especially as it was their first night of service and instead of the 5 people they had been planning on there seemed to be a full house with a melange of languages and types of customers. The service was prompt and attentive, the dishes creative and varied, and although quite a bit for me, it was a good amount of food not too much like some tasting menus can end up being. Thank you to Mr. X for inviting me and to the staff of L'Auberge des Groulines for this enjoyable evening.
L'Auberge des Groulines
+33 450 37 03 96