My Lyon meals were mixed up from what I originally planned because I had problems with getting through to places on the phone before I left for France.
Tuesday dinner at Le Potager des Halles. Made a 7:30 p.m. reservation over e-mail and they confirmed within 24 hours on a Sunday. Had the 35 Euro menu (entrée, plat and dessert):
Was served bread and tapenade to start, and then a slightly bigger than a shooter glass of langoustine soup.
Entrée: Ballottine de foie gras, pain séché et mesclun niçois
Plat: Taglionis fraiches, langoustines, palourdes, legumes verts et jus de presse
Dessert: Pain de Gênes, crème chiboust vanille, framboises et myrtilles
Everything was delicious. The soup had a strong flavour and scent of langoustines. The foie gras was silky and not too strong tasting, the langoustines and clams were cooked perfectly, and I wanted to like the dessert plate. My only problem was with the pasta; it was obviously fresh pasta and tasted good but the pasta clumped together as soon as it left the kitchen window and at one point I even used my knife to cut out “slices” to eat. Service was attentive and friendly. The place was half empty when I left, likely partly due to the horrible weather (windy and rainy) and partly because it was a weeknight.
Wednesday lunch was a sandwich (jamon and chevre) and dessert grabbed on the go from the Boulangerie L’épiaison in Vieux Lyon. There was a line up of people there, which convinced me that it was a good place to stop. I enjoyed it so much that I went back another day for more pain au chocolate. Had planned on going to Aux Trois Maries for a bouchon lunch but they are closed for renovations until May. (Probably not early May because it looked like there was quite a bit left to do.)
Wednesday dinner at Le Bouchon des Filles. I did not have a reservation. I had planned on stopping by and begging for one for the next night, but the weather was even worse than the day before (high winds) and the place only had two tables filled when I arrived just after 8 p.m. Service was great and for 25 Euros they stuffed me to the very brim with food. They started me off with a couple of bites of poppy seed bread – the size of doughnut holes. Then came three salads – mesclun with a slice of warmed sausage, a cold lentil salad, and a coleslaw made out of celeriac (I think… I may have misunderstood) and walnuts. The lentils were so good that I kept eating more and more of them and had to stop so that I would have room for my main dish. Next came a velouté of carrot and chive. I was getting full. Then my plat arrived: quenelle de brochet, sauce crustacés et écrivisses. Light and fluffy, the closest I can describe it was fish with the texture of bread pudding, sitting in a delicious seafood chowder. I really wanted a spoon but used bread to sop it all up instead. Next was Cervelle de Canut - fromage blanc seasoned with herbs, pepper, etc. It was similar to a crisp, clean tasting and tangy taziki. And lastly, I had a crème brûlée served in a shallow dish. There was so much food that the next day I still felt full.
Thursday – went on a Beaujolais winery and Oingt and Perogues town tour with Kanpai Tourisme. Visited a great little family-run winery and tasted some delicious Beaujolais wines. Great tour.
Dinner was at Leon de Lyon. I had wanted to do another bouchon, but I decided that it was just too much food to have in a row. Again, I had no reservation but I went early (7:30 p.m.) and was shown right away to a table. The weather was better this day though, and the place filled up by 8:30 p.m. Started off with tapenade and bread. I ordered the daily special of Velouté d’asperges (with balsamic vinegar and croutons) to start. Then I had the poitrine de veau braise, just réduit, gratin de vert et blance de blettes. To finish I had a demi Saint-Marcellin cheese with a side of salad. Service was very good except that one of the staff took away my tapenade when my soup came, and I grumpily watched as every other table got to keep their tapenade without saying a word when I hadn’t even been asked.
So in all, some great food but the stars were probably Le Bouchon des Filles, the baked goods from Boulangerie L’épiaison, and the Beaujolais wines.
Next report will be on Avignon.