Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more
Switzerland is a notoriously expensive place. On my road trip from France to Italy through Switzerland, I found that everything, from the accommodation to the food, and even the petrol, was more expensive than in neighbouring France and Italy. We stopped in Geneva for the night, but opted to stay on the French border just outside the city to save some money. But one thing we did want to try was the much-touted cheap eats joint, Chez Ma Cousine, or “At my cousin’s place”.
Chez Ma Cousine’s tagline is “On y Mange du Poulet”, which translates into “there, we eat chicken.” And what an appropriate tagline it is, because roast chicken is the star of the menu. Glancing around the restaurant, I see a chicken on every table. There is alfresco seating in the Vieille Ville (Old Town) branch that we go to, but the balminess of the spring day meant that the outdoor seating was full, so we were forced to go inside, where the restaurant is cheerfully decorated in green and yellow, with plain wooden tables arranged neatly up both sides of the restaurant.
Flipping through the menu, we understand immediately the draw of the place. Half a bird with fries and a salad costs 14.90 Swiss Francs, which is incredibly cheap for Switzerland. There is ketchup and mayo available, but you can also ask for the house special sauce to go with the chicken for an extra 2.50 Swiss Francs.
My travel companion and I weren’t very hungry so we asked if we could share half a chicken but the waiter firmly denied our request. He did, however, allow the second person to just order an extra portion of salad or fries.
We had to wait a while for our waiter to serve us, but once he had taken our order, our meal arrived almost immediately. The chicken is plain and unadorned, looking lost and lonely all by itself on a plate. The portion of salad is generous and the double-portion of thick-cut fries even more so. Sinking my teeth into the chicken, I am immediately disappointed. The skin of the chicken is very salty, but the flesh is dry and flavourless, suggesting that they hadn’t brined the bird for long enough (if at all). The fries, however, are delicious; almost as good as Belgian fries, with a crispy skin and soft, steaming insides.
If you’re looking for a cheap and filling meal in Geneva, Chez Ma Cousine definitely fits the bill. However, I would try having the gravy (which we didn’t order) with the chicken to counteract the meat’s blandness.
Note: Very convenient location just behind the old cathedral5, Rue Lissignol 1201 Geneva 022 731 98 98 Reservations accepted Closed on Sundays 2, Ch. du Petit-Saconnex 1209 Geneva 022 733 79 85 Reservations accepted
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