Lake Geneva Restaurants

Lake Geneva Restaurants

Lake Geneva Restaurants

This is my SOS. Except my ship is my town and that makes the situation far more dire than if it were just my ship in trouble. The Lake Geneva restaurant scene is bad. I know this. You probably know this. Almost everyone who has spent any time here knows this. Since Medusa closed their doors last year we have been left to whither in this beautiful place. The scenery might make the pain less intense, but we cannot pretend that we are not lacking. Lacking for flavor. Lacking for creativity. Lacking for effort. Lake Geneva, the premier vacation home destination in the Midwest, is in need of a restauranteur who might save us.

I don’t intend this to be any sort of indictment on our local restaurants that are trying, but anyone with any sort of sense understands that we deserve better here. Locals open restaurants and do what they can to make the restaurant decent, but typically these efforts either fail or are doomed to serve mediocrity for the remainder of their lease. There are good meals to be found here, and beautiful restaurants to be found here, but when someone asks me for my opinion on which establishment deserves the title of “Lake Geneva’s Best Restaurant”, what am I supposed to say? How can I tell them which one it is when I don’t feel that any of them are particularly worthy of that title? Why must I wander around in this desert, alone, hungry and perpetually disappointed?

If I were in some random town in the middle of nowhere, I’d understand this deficiency. I was musky fishing with my son and our fly rods near Ladysmith, Wisconsin two weeks ago. When it was time for dinner, we found a place that looked like a guy like me might not be welcome, and we dined. The dinner was bad. But I wasn’t expecting anything to be good. When the walleye tasted like a 2021 vintage (complete with bones), I figured it was my fault for ordering something like this here. My expectations were low and they were met. But when I’m in Lake Geneva, why should I suffer this same fate? I shouldn’t, yet I do. Year in and year out, I do. Spring, summer, fall and winter, here I am, suffering the ill-effects of uninspired and poorly executed dining experiences.

We have lakefront owners here who own or invest in the largest, most successful restaurants in the city of Chicago, and it’s going to be up to them to save us from our bland fate. I’ve worked for restauranteurs and their consultants who tell me that Lake Geneva is too seasonal to support a better restaurants. Hogwash. They use this tired trope as though it were 1982 and Lake Geneva operated as a seasonal destination. This is no longer the case, and so this excuse is no longer accepted. Lake Geneva yearns for something higher quality. Lake Geneva deserves it. I deserve it. You deserve it. Everyone who owns on or near these shores deserves it. And so here it is, my SOS. Calling all Chicago restauranteurs who want to make an absolute killing in this market. I’ll help guide you and with a little effort we can start to turn Lake Geneva into the culinary destination it’s long pretended to be.

Or, if Chef Greg just wants to re-open Medusa, I’m here for that, too…

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4 Comments

  • Lawrie November 10, 2022 at 8:55 am

    Here are some restaurants that most people – including locals – enjoy
    ZAAB (Medusa location) Lake Geneva
    Pier 290 Williams Bay
    Jonathans Delavan
    Sopia Lake Geneva
    Simple Lake Geneva
    Grand Geneva Resort Steak and Italian restaurants

    • David Curry Author November 10, 2022 at 1:55 pm

      Yes, all are fine for what they are. But there’s no experience here that stands out as memorable or uniquely high quality (at least in my opinion). Thanks for your thoughts!

  • Bonita Breit November 11, 2022 at 7:22 am

    I miss the Red Geranium. Pier 290 always greets me archly with “Do you have a reservation?” when the place is half-empty. Anthony’s, which is fun for it’s retro vibe, has wildly inconsistent quality – and I’m talking about the food on the same plate. It’s like gambling, I eat there when I feel lucky.

    I think restaurants in Lake Geneva get away with being “meh” because it’s a tourist town, and a underwhelming restaurant can survive by reeling in newcomers who don’t know any better. It’s basically a captive market. There isn’t much in the nearby burgs, either.

    I remember the golden age of supper clubs and good, independent family restaurants, but they seem gone forever. It’s mostly takeout/fast-casual chains now. Gen Z seems happy to order their food on an app, and pick it (or have it delivered) with no human interaction involved.

    Now I feel old! And hungry.

    • David Curry Author November 11, 2022 at 3:29 pm

      Good observations. I think you’re right about the meh standard for local restaurants. That’s what I wish would change!

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