Holy Cow and Inglewood – nothing to write home about

This is a tough review to write. I’m constantly complaining there is a consistent lack of effort to improve Geneva’s food culture yet when not one but two new burger joints open in a short amount of time, I’m a little… underwhelmed with the effort.

Inglewood, a small restaurant between Plainpalais and Acacias, definitely gets higher marks as far as I am concerned, their burger certainly feels like an overall quality product. The meat is fresh and tasty but the winner here is definitely the bun, it is pretty much by itself what makes the experience worthwhile! The poppy seed roll is crispy on the outside and soft inside, the way it really should be! The fries are OK but nothing spectacular, the salad is a wholly forgettable experience… which saddens me. Most places here don’t understand that a salad, be it a side, can be a fresh and delicious experience. Use the right ingredients, add the right dressing and you’re in for a very special treat! But no such luck here.

So while Inglewood’s burger is enjoyable, it somehow fails to live up to the hype (in a recent episode, Swiss television’s A bon entendeur rated Inglewood’s burger highest among the 11 burgers it tested) and I was expecting a more palate-pleasing experience. Also, getting in is no simple task. You can’t book for lunch so you just have to go and hope they’ll have a spot for you, and you may want to book in advance for an evening meal — it seems to fill up pretty quickly. Out of my three attempts to sample their food, only one was successful, and let’s face it, a girl can only take so much rejection.

Oh yeah, one final word about Inglewood: do yourself a favor and skip the desserts. Especially the donuts.

Now onto Holy Cow, again I had high hopes for this place, after all, ever since it first opened in Lausanne, it has consistently been getting rave reviews. Yet in spite of the fact that they seem to be doing everything right (they use fresh, organic ingredients, have a baker make a special bun and only seem to use local suppliers), virtually nothing about their burgers works for me. The bun is too soft and bland, the meat is OK and may well be of a superior quality but in terms of taste and texture, I just didn’t enjoy it. But worst of all was the overpowering barbecue sauce they seem to use in most — if not all — of their burgers. It so completely ruined the experience for me the first time around, I actually made it a point to go back and order a burger that didn’t list the offensive sauce as one of its ingredients but lo and behold, it somehow still made its way into my Big Cheese.

The fries are very unimpressive and while I thought there were more than enough of them, I doubt everyone would feel the same way.

I don’t know. I’m not sure how to evaluate this place fairly, clearly a lot of effort has gone into making Holy Cow what it is and many people seem to enjoy it, but I find it hard to believe you would genuinely enjoy a meal in this restaurant if you’ve had a decent burger anywhere else in the world. And I’m not just talking about cities in North America, I would include many other cosmopolitan cities around the globe.

A Big Cheese menu at Holy Cow (the burger with a side of fries and a drink) will run you about CHF 18. For a gourmet burger, that seems fair, but frankly for the Holy Cow experience, I thought it was a little overpriced. If you happen to be taking your entire family out for dinner, it’s downright expensive for what it is. Frankly I’d order a Big Mac at McDonald’s any day over a Holy Cow burger, and I say this as someone who has a very strong aversion to McDonald’s.

I could go back to Inglewood. I doubt I’ll be going back to Holy Cow.

Pictured below: Inglewood’s Pasadena burger followed by Holy Cow’s Elvis Blue Cheese and Big Cheese burgers. And yes the bun was sadly just as flat as it looks in the last picture.

Inglewood - burger and fries

Holy Cow - burger

Holy Cow - super flat burger bun

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