Route du Grand-Lancy 45, 1212 Grand-Lancy, Geneve.
Menu Choice 7/10
Value for money 7/10
Café Zinette is located in a beautiful old 19th Century building out in Grand Lancy. It doesn’t have any parking of its own, but there is plenty of space on the streets nearby or you can just catch the number 15 tram out from Geneva centre. There is an attractive terrace which is extremely popular in summer, but as seems to happen so often when I dine out, the weather thwarted my plans. As a result, after an aperitif in the bar downstairs, I dined indoors in the room upstairs.
The room upstairs is not large and this is a popular place so there were quite a few tables squeezed in. It wasn’t so close that you’re touching anyone, or in danger of doing so, but I did find that at times I was quite aware of the people nearby and the waiters trying to move around us all. In addition on one side of a row of tables we were all sharing a long bench. Now as pretty as this looked, it can (and did!) make things a little difficult in terms of getting seated and getting up etc. A minor thing I know, but a slightly irritating one.
The food menu is a deliberately limited affair with just 5 starters (15 – 18CHF), 5 mains (37 – 45CHF) and 5 desserts (11 – 12CHF). However there is still a fair bit of variety and the offerings do change so it shouldn’t feel too repetitive if you choose to return at a later date. The wine list on the other hand has plenty of choice, both Swiss and French. Prices are only given for bottles but you can get just a glass if you ask (although probably not for everything on the menu). Both food and wine are a little pricey but in the grand scheme of Geneva dining prices not the end of the world.
It being a work night we arrived quite early and at that point there were not too many other people present. This was great as it meant that the waiter was able to take the time to walk my non-French speaking friend through both the menu and the wine list and offer suggestions. He was very knowledgeable about both and his passion and enthusiasm came across. I do however have to confess that as the evening progressed and the room filled up the level of service dropped noticeably and things did start to take a while to arrive.
Given the restricted choice it was surprisingly difficult to decide what to eat, there were quite a few options that really appealed to me. In the end I opted to start with the tomato and thyme shortbread topped with a set goats cheese pannacotta and some crispy Valais ham. Now the reason I plumped for this is that I absolutely adore goat’s cheese. I was therefore a little bit disappointed to find that the pannacotta did not have a particularly strong goats cheese tang or flavour. As for the shortbread, that had a great flavour. Unfortunately though it was very short and crumbled easily into a fine dust which made it rather difficult to eat with a knife and fork! I wouldn’t say that this was a bad dish overall, but it definitely would not be my first choice next time.
My main was a different matter. A large, well-cooked piece of lightly spiced monkfish sitting on top of a mound of coriander infused black rice risotto and surrounded by carrot juice and more coriander. It was divine and there was plenty of it! Well-seasoned and full of flavour this dish was a delight to consume.
When I was initially looking at the menu I intended to have a dessert (I was torn between the chocolate duo and the cherry clafloutis) but upon reaching that point of the meal I found that I was actually too full to really face one and skipped that section so I can’t comment on the sweets (maybe another time!).
After this visit I’d definitely like to go back to Café Zinette again if I can find a suitable occasion and try some other options. The small menu was full of interesting ideas and you got the sense that the staff, while rather rushed, genuinely cared about the food and your dining experience. Well worth the trip.