Need Another Reason for Lunch at Izumi, Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues
Just back from the sunny Spanish capital of Madrid and a likeable rooftop restaurant, I'm off again to Switzerland. This time Geneva.
It's been exactly ten years to the day since I first visited Geneva. How to celebrate that milestone?
I find my next rooftop venue. This one swanked with picture postcard views across the city, Lake Geneva and some Swiss mountains beyond from its eighth floor. The Gram, the postie who'd deliver those cards.
But like London, very much like London, the rooftop here is Swiss-weather-dependent too, so indoors it was. At least this wasn't cancelled.
The Four Seasons Hotel chain is legendary for many things, including consistently delivering exceptional service to its guests. And just as legendary, the floral displays and scents in their lobbies, but this Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues has an edge. 1834, its signature scent. I am charmed by the first whiff of amber wood and just as quickly intoxicated by the patchouli and quickly disperse of any displeasure caused by the closed rooftop terrace.
With my new-found friend from the front desk, I ride to the seventh floor in lifts that may have a few stories to tell. I say new-found, but I'm made to feel more like I'd just visited last week. I sense, too, that had I been alone or in that lift longer, the lifts would have shared. After all, this building is centuries old. But we arrive at Izumi, where I am readily handed over to the restaurant staff. Who, dressed in dark chinos and white polo shirts with trainers echoing the same colour, carry themselves more like a smart yachtie crew.
Choosing a table (here, your handbag gets a side stool, too), I settle on a table next to one of this restaurant's standout features - its floor-to-ceiling glass wall. Views don't fully clear the hotel's rooftop, so I ignore the Swiss-London weather outdoors and focus on the menus within.
I've had a refreshing two sips from an ice-cold lychee-laced summer drink (Grenadine syrup, yuzu and ginger beer), when the kitchen sends out the first dish.
The paper-thin and 'Sashimied' Seabass spiced in fruity spicy Aji Amarillo, topped with salsa and panko. The sashimi is soft and meltingly good in the mouth. The tangy dressing adds to its super-freshness and the panko a lot of bite. So much so I fear the neighbours at the next table can hear me. Covertly, I licked my lips as I finished that plate.
I learn from the table beside mine that the chef is Japanese and is less than a year old in the role. But he is hot off the mark and sends out my IZUMI STYLE BEEF, YUZU MISO ANTICUCHO, with a side of white rice. Incredibly tender melt-in-your-mouth beef, no effort is required to chew. The spicy, zesty and salty flavours tussle for the punch but the sauce remains incredibly flavoursome. I tried finding the hero in this dish feeding myself mouths full, while too trying to remind myself to take small bites but the food is deliciously good, and I stuff my mouth with as much rice and meat as is acceptably, Four Seasons. Bite after bite delivers insanely good food. I finished that plate of beef and half the rice bowl and licked my lips in plain view this time.
A more relaxed blue-collared crowd fills the tables, and the restaurant is now fully booked. The servers have added more pep to their swag, leaving no one unattended.
There's a hum of conversations. Some in English but more in French. But all more Capri than contracts and, too, how fabulously good this restaurant's food is.
And after two courses, I wholeheartedly agree. No one seemed overly bothered the terrace was closed and with my back turned to the outdoors, neither was I.
This should have been a low-key, quick two-course lunch; I'd made sure of it by ordering from the Business Menu. I am, too, full from that two-course feast. But instead of requesting the bill, I request dessert. Now, I want to linger; discover what sensational treats this kitchen has for desserts and continue in the cross table conversations. So, I make space for cheesecake.
I cut into the velvety smoothness and let that sweet-sweet savour in my mouth. Eaten with the yuzu sorbet, added a citrusy burst of flavour. I was already full, but this was worth it. Worth making the space for, worth the extended cross-table conversations.
Izumi Restaurant indoors is on the 7th floor of Hotel des Bergues, with its terrace on the eighth. Although not quite a full year in play, the plates here are a creation of Executive Chef Toshikazu Kato and a team that feels very practised. The food, a wonderful come-together of traditional Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. Ordered from the Business Menu but an A La Carte, Tasting and Discovery rounds out the menu choices at Izumi.
Unlike the hotel's baroque facade, the decor is very chic, contemporary. Elegant tones of creams interplay with bolder darker textures on the walls. Leather and silver legged chairs with matching rimmed tables brings the space together. The back wall, complete in floor-to-ceiling glass takes on all the natural light for the restaurant. It is an incredibly beautiful space employing over twenty covers of mostly tables of two and four. The largest table is in the centre of the room.
The restaurant has a terrific business lunch menu and is also an excellent business lunch venue.
Exactly ten years after that first trip to Geneva, Izumi's rooftop restaurant prompted an anniversary celebration. Though the weather closed the rooftop, this was an excellent way to celebrate that milestone. Now, I want another reason to return to lunch at Izumi, Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues. Capturing those rooftop views, that evaded me today would be the bonus.