A fairly recent addition to Geneva’s cocktail scene, Bistrot 23 is not only a bar but a restaurant as well.
It is located 3 min walk away from the Boulevard Georges-Favon, a street packed with quite a few bars, on the off street Rue de la Coulouvrenière. In the summer, you can enjoy its two terraces, yes two, one of which gives on the Rhone river.
You enter Bistrot 23 through the bar. The station stands right across the entrance and looks really classy with its metallic counter top. Art deco lamps hang from the ceiling and cast their lights on the small industrial tables scattered around the room. The table tops rotate to turn the tables from regular sitting tables to high bar tables. There are also a few stools to sit at the bar.
Once seated you’ll be served a glass of water and handed the folding cardboard bar menu. It lists all the drinks on offer from soft drinks to spirits, through wines and beers. It also contains a cocktail section with four cocktail categories. Under the “aperitivo” category, you’ll find drinks such as the Bellini, Dirty Manhattan or May Day, a delicious cocktail mixing Tanqueray Gin, Aperol, lemon juice, rhubarb bitters, topped up with champagne. The “sours” category comprises cocktails such as the Lollipop Martini, a refreshing citrusy drink based on lemon infused vodka, limoncello, lemon juice, orgeat syrup, rhubarb bitters with a lollipop as a garnish, and the Pepperista, a savoury mix of Tanqueray Gin, St Germain liqueur, vine peach liqueur, lemon juice and fresh red pepper. The “fancy” category includes the Cuban Mule, French Julep and Exotic Martini. The last category, the “after dinner” cocktails, proposes a Nutty Old Fashioned, a Tiramisu Martini, and the Vieux Carré. Every day, the bar also suggests a cocktail du jour.
While at the bar you can enjoy some of the restaurant dishes.
Pass the bar and you’ll get to the restaurant area. Again, the decoration is a nice mix of old and contemporary styles with an eclectic mix of old wooden bistrot tables and modern Eames plastic chairs and armchairs in shades of blue and green. Speaking of green, a tree rises through a “donut shaped” table offering quite a sight and a sense of serenity. (I just wonder how convenient it is for guests to talk to each other with a tree cutting their line of vision.) With the low lighting from the lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling, the wooden touches from the table and the comfortable armchairs, the word that comes to mind to describe the atmosphere in the restaurant is: welcoming.
The food menu offers starters – some that can be shared – , meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. I had dinner several times there (or at the bar) and on all occasions I really enjoyed my meal.
Last Friday a friend and I had the beef teriyaki, another friend had the lightly seared salmon with sesame crust, and the last friend had the beef burger. Every one of us was extremely happy with their choice. The beef was perfectly seasoned and the accompanying vegetables were as crunchy as can be. I didn’t have any room for a proper dessert so I had a scoop of vanilla ice cream to end on a sweet note still. One of my friends had the pie of the day (a very fine apple pie) and another had the café gourmand, an assortment of bite size desserts. Seeing as nothing was left, the desserts were as good as the main courses.
Both bar and restaurant are busy every day from Monday to Friday but closed on Saturday. The atmosphere is not loud or party-crazy. It is rather chilled and relaxed. Perfect to enjoy your friends’s company around a good cocktail and/or a good meal.