All In The Timing: Inside F.P. Journe’s Le Restaurant

What happens when the world of haute horology and haute gastronomy collide? The answer is F.P. Journe’s newly opened Le Restaurant.

François-Paul Journe and Chef Dominique Gauthier.

For many years, the 49 Rue du Rhône in Geneva was home to a beloved brasserie named “La Bavaria”. It made its debut in 1912 when it opened as a brewery specialising in German beers (hence the name “Bavaria”). 

After the First World War, it became a popular watering hole for the members of the League of Nations, who held their assemblies at the nearby Salle de la Réformation located at the corner of Boulevard Helvétique. With no refreshment facilities on site, it’s no surprise that the international delegation of ministers, heads of state, and journalists would venture to the nearby brasseries for a drink. 

Just some of the names who have passed through this historic place include the Prime Minister of France, Aristide Briand, German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresseman, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (who, legend has it, forgot his umbrella on one visit). 

“Why any other name for a restaurant located on the Rue du Rhône in between Prada, Bally, Gucci, Celine, and Versace?”

In keeping with the convivial spirit of the establishment, today the site is reborn as a new addition to Geneva’s culinary scene. Behind it are two artists renowned in their respective industries: the celebrated independent watchmaker François-Paul Journe and Michelin-starred chef Dominique Gauthier. They’ve decided to name this new venture F.P. Journe Le Restaurant. 

“Why any other name for a restaurant located on the Rue du Rhône in between Prada, Bally, Gucci, Celine, and Versace?” François-Paul Journe tells The Peak. This is not the watchmaker’s first restaurant venture; he was the co-owner of Marjolaine, which was also located at the same site. The restaurant closed down in 2019 to make way for major structural work on the edifice. It was during the three years of renovations that Journe envisioned opening a restaurant with his name to it. 


Chef Dominique Gauthier at work.

“The first priority when you go to a restaurant is to eat well; that is the most important thing,” says Journe, and this is possible with the collaboration of Dominique Gauthier. The two were introduced by a mutual friend when Journe was scouting for a chef to helm the restaurant. 

Gauthier, who spent three decades at Le Chat-Botté at the Hôtel Beau-Rivage in Geneva, was looking to start anew, and so the timing of their encounter was perfect. “We met, and we were perfectly in tune. Eight months later, Le Restaurant opened,” says Journe. 

Needless to say, the menu here is as haute as Mr Journe’s watchmaking. Defined as Mediterranean with a few Asian hints inspired by Gauthier’s travels in Thailand, the elegant signature dishes include roasted scampi with kadaif, citrus, and basil. 


The roasted scampi with kadaif, citrus, and basil.

As for Journe’s favourite dishes: the lobster from Brittany with ceps mushroom, impérator curry and Thai basil, as well as the beef from Simmental with Madagascar wild pepper and grilled shallots. A fun detail here is that the menu gives a little nod to F.P. Journe’s watch models with a selection of tasting menus called the Elégante, the Souverain, and the seven-course Astronomic menu. 

And what of the watches, you ask? Journe, who is in charge of the decoration, ensured the establishment exudes a strong horological identity.

“When I’m involved in anything that takes my name, I’m always 100 percent committed,” he says. Whether I’m designing the manufacture, my boutiques, my watches, or the restaurant too, I always follow my vision.” 


The Ravioles de lièvre à la truffe d’Alba.

The interior of the place is renowned for its oak panelling and large mirrors, which remain intact today since it first debuted in 1942. While the watch references are subtle, this is unmistakably an F.P. Journe establishment. 

Posters representing technical drawings and movements adorn the oak panel walls, while little plaques bearing the names of legendary historical clockmakers like Jost Bürgi, Abraham-Louis Breguet, and Christiaan Huygens can be found on each table. 

Meanwhile, watch components— from house cogs, screws, and needles—are embedded in the resin knife handles, so you can sharpen up your watchmaking knowledge while having your meal. The pièce de résistance of the space, however, is the 17th-century astronomical clock made by Italian clockmaker Giovanni Brugell Venetia. 


So, who is Le Restaurant’s clientele today? “Our customers are mainly people from Geneva who work in a liberal profession,” says Journe. “People who love watchmaking, and international customers who come to Geneva for business and who love watches.” 

If you’re planning a visit, take note of the limited opening hours. At the moment, they’re only open for service on weekdays for lunch and dinner from Mondays to Thursdays, while only lunch is served on Fridays. On weekends, they’re closed. 

Despite this exclusivity, we’re pretty sure the waiting list for a table is most likely shorter than the waiting list for a timepiece. 

F.P. Journe Le Restaurant 

This article was originally published in The Peak February 2024 issue. 

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