415 W. State St., Geneva (331) 248-0654;
Prices: Breakfast dishes, $3-$6.50; lunch, $6-$12
Hours: 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Saturday.
Try: The savory crepes are good and so is the breakfast soup.
Tips: Casual, conversation-friendly. Free parking, street and lot. Sit-down; carry-out. Small but adequate wine list.
In a bite: Chez Moi Cafe gives diners in Geneva a dandy alternative for breakfast or lunch. Its French-accented fare is a crowd-pleaser.
KEY: ★★★★ Extraordinary; ★★★ Excellent;
★★ Very Good; ★ Good;
Zero stars: Poor
At Chez Moi Cafe in Geneva the coffee is robust; the crepes, palate-pleasing; and the flaky chocolate croissants made from imported French dough, magnifique.
In other words, this cozy new 50-seat bistro which opened in late January has something to offer that the national chains can’t touch: character.
It’s run by certified chef and catering pro Beth Cull, who is at her post Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Service is attentive and the prices reasonable (four could easily chow down for less than $50, excluding tax and tip).
Signs of Cull’s Francophilia are apparent in the menu with its homemade quiches, galettes, muffins and tarts. Meanwhile, large maps of France decorate one wall, and sturdy tables and chairs invite diners to linger over their cappuccino, cafe au lait or espresso.
Our group of four stretched breakfast for more than two hours — and didn’t get the feeling we had overstayed our welcome. Chez Moi (that’s “my place” in English) is building its carryout business, and I was told it can become crowded at lunchtime.
A display case near the front door allows a tempting glimpse of some of the day’s luscious fare. While croissants are a worthy indulgence, the lemon scone available during a recent visit impressed my wife. Depending on the day, the selection might vary from apricot, cranberry, cinnamon, maple, chocolate to orange.
A long-time friend started his first meal of the day with a breakfast soup, a flavorful chicken broth with a poached egg, bits of bacon and crispy croutons. Three other possible selections were individual ramekins with sausage and fresh herbs topped with a soft-cooked egg and creamed tomato coulis; yogurt parfait; and fresh berries with steel-cut oatmeal.
Chez Moi prepares and serves the traditional “galettes de sarrazin” — large filled-and-folded savory pancakes made with buckwheat flour. They can be substantial, but if needed the wait staff will provide containers for leftovers. Also available are popular dessert crepes made with white flour and variously dressed up with berries and chantilly cream; Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread); and cinnamon, sugar and toasted almonds.
Order with confidence, as we did, the savory galette filled with glazed salmon, arugula and gruyere cheese and plated with a mini salad of mixed greens in a vinaigrette dressing. Others in our party endorsed galettes with roasted vegetables, pecans and blue cheese; and chicken, spinach, roasted red peppers and feta cheese. Still another good choice was the piping hot quiche featuring spinach, sweet onion and gruyere.
Deviled eggs, a platter of assorted cheeses and a soup of the day make their appearance on the lunch menu. So do a handful of salads, including Provencale cobb salad, salad Nicoise and salade verte.
Chez Moi has a small but diverse wine list, though domestic or imported bubbly by the glass would make a worthy addition. On May 12 there’s a special pre-Mother’s Day “high tea” service that includes bubbly.
Thomas Witom is a local free-lance writer.