Auberge du Père Bise

I am not sure what to say about the current state of Auberge du Père Bise, a place we visited twenty years ago and decided to re-book to re-test the waters.

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Located on the lake of Annecy, it is one of Frances largest lakes and cleanest. The fact that it was formed 18,000 years ago, when large alpine glaciers melted and it has the most extraordinary characteristics.

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It also owes part of its reputation to its extraordinary location and light at sunrise and sunset, which has been the inspiration of impressionist painter Paul Cézanne, who immortalized the lake with his renowned oil painting, Le Lac bleu.

In addition the establishment Auberge du Père Bise, a century of culinary tradition starting with Marie & François Bise in 1901 to Marguerite & Marius Bise in 1928 up to Charlyne & François in 1957, and now Sophie Bise.

I sadly would not recommend Auberge du Père Bise any longer, as we found it was a disappointment from the start to the finish. We arrived and after being showed to our table, and within ten minutes we were asked to move tables for another party, which we obliged.

The service was formal but a little too stiff for the lakeside, and some staff did not seem professional or friendly despite a smiling maître d’hôtel who tried hard.

We frequently poured our own water while our neighbors were drinking plenty of coca-cola and orange juice, and eating with multiple baby sitting staff, who were up and down most of the meal.

The cuisine is “ma-ma” as we say in Japan, which means so and so, and I am being polite about it. I think that the basic ingredients are well above average, and the dishes are complex but there is something missing.

I had the feeling that they are over decorating and using “silly jelly” when dishes could remain more simple, less fussed and more to the point. Mixing foie gras and lake white fish was not the best combination and the jellies were too sweet and the dish very heavy under the lake’s heat.

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The desserts are by Frank Fleurance, the Chef Pâtissier at the Auberge seemed to be melting by the time the trolly arrived. I would suggest they are more careful about the presentation, and my guess is that most were frozen, which is not a problem in France when you are commercially operating a pâtisserie.

Our son’s steak was a boeuf haché (a hamburger) and not what we expected as it was cooked improperly. The fact that he didn’t touch it, we thought the staff would both take it away and or ask, neither happened.

We decided to skip dinner after this lunch and while the food is technically sound, it’s taste was unimpressive and outdated, more like hotel food, or what you find on first class Singapore.

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The fact that Auberge (across the street) which was once owned by the Bise family is now owned by an American who rents out rooms is an added disappointment. I guess they get by on the fact that Talloires (on lake Annecy) is one of the most magical places in Europe.

I did ask to see the chef but she was away, so perhaps it was her misfortune and ours.

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Categories: Life Cycles