Restaurants & Bars

Leon de Lyon, Lyon, France

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Leon de Lyon, Lyon, France

Limster | Dec 13, 2001 01:22 AM

After the grand meals in Alsace, Leon de Lyon couldn't compare. Nevertheless, the meal was good and worthwhile.

It began with 5 elaborate amuse bouches, little bites of meat, fish and vegetable, the details I can't remember. Next a potato leek soup that was simple but flavorful, a good use of a classic combination. On the side a nice warm gougere puffy with air and cheese.

It's another foie gras opener. The foie gras terrine embedded with chunks of rare duck breast is good, but no match for the Alsatian renditions that coax out every bit of flavor from the liver. Here, Jean-Paul Lacombe departs from the sweet accompaniments for foie gras. Instead he goes for a dark savory angle, pitting the terrine with a dark sauce that reminds me of rich mushrooms or soy sauce. This is reinforced with little sides of tongue, wild mushrooms and a little salad of greens, lifted by the airy crispness of cilantro. It's a gutsy departure and it works fairly well.

Lacombe takes full advantage of winter and produces mushrooms again wrapped under a delicate cannonelli. It's a mushroom lover's dream, with woodsy wild flavors mingling on the tongue.

Next is a meat dish of some sort - I don't think I got the translation...it's a dark meat of some sort - game bird perhaps? The meat is shredded and mixed with chopped mushrooms with a light slippery crunch similar to straw mushrooms; nice textural contrast. Meat and mushrooms are molded into a a little cylinder and little slices of another mushroom that somewhat resembles a cross between shiitakes and oyster mushrooms are fanned out on the surface.

Then venison, perfectly cooked and dressed with a red wine sauce of some kind. The robust flavors of the meat are cleverly lightened by a wonderful puree of celery.

Just when I thought things would settle down, dessert arrives - a tour de force of 6 chocolate desserts. There is a creamy crunchy chocolate cookie, a bite's worth of chocolate tart laced with the brightness of orange and a warm chocolate cake shaped like a pyramid and oozing dark molten luxury. It doesn't stop. Also on the plate is a white chocolate mousse sandwiched by two little biscuits, a delightful contrast in chocolateness to the others. On another little dish are two more rhapsodies on the theme of chocolate - a dark chocolate sorbet, well conceived because the richness is nicely cut by the natural icy texture of sorbet, and a chocolate/coffee pot de creme. This pretty much runs the entire gamut of chocolate preparations. It's all chocolate, yet each dessert stands on its own, unique, individual and ultimately delicious.

The usual array of tartlets and candy and sweets are now laid out. But the one I will always remember is the bowl of grapes; the fruit was a revelation. These tiny globes are slightly bigger than blueberries and their flavor is soothing and complex, and essentially unlike any grape I've tasted. What a fruit!

On the whole, the lovely meal with flawless service in somewhat initmately lavish but tasteful interiors was worth the splurge.

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