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Lyon advice?

Melanie Wong Feb 28, 2001 12:37 AM

I'm gonna do it. I'm headed to the Rhone Valley next week and appreciate the advice I've received here. A search turned up little on Lyon though, surprising as it's one of France's gastronomic centers.

I'll have a Saturday and Sunday on my own in Lyon at the end of my trip and would appreciate suggestions for casual restaurants. Any tips for things to see sans car would be appreciated too.


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    emily RE: Melanie Wong Feb 28, 2001 05:12 PM

    be sure to get a doner kebab on the street or from a takeout window. lyon has a huge turkish and algerian population and has the best kebabs in france, which is saying a lot. be sure to ask for sauce blanche and plenty of onions.


    4 Replies
    1. re: emily
      Melanie Wong RE: emily Feb 28, 2001 07:17 PM

      What a great suggestion, Emily! I will be aching for some street food after more than a week of wining and dining. I remember the first time I tasted lamb in France - it almost hurt my mouth it was so intensely flavored.

      1. re: Melanie Wong
        emily RE: Melanie Wong Feb 28, 2001 11:05 PM

        yes! *everything* in france is different. be careful, though; these doner kebab places are ubiquitous and some are a bit scary. i'm not sure how to track down the best ones. it's been so long that i don't remember the hot spots. i guess just look for the most crowded shop.

        i wish you could bring me one back! oh, i can't even start thinking about all the things i would love to have from france....

        1. re: emily
          Melanie Wong RE: emily Mar 4, 2001 04:26 AM

          I hope it's not too long before you get back to France, Emily. I'm saving a ton of money for wines and meals by staying in chambre d'hotes (200-230FF/night, including breakfast). I expect my big nights out are going to run well over 1,000FF. Last year I was very happy with the place I'd booked in Gevrey via the company below. They've added a lot more functionality to the site since then, in fact, many new features and more on-line booking just in the last month.

          Link: http://www.gites-de-france.fr/eng/bas...

      2. re: emily
        Melanie Wong RE: emily Apr 1, 2001 04:59 PM

        Thanks so much for this suggestion, Emily.

        The night we arrived we stopped in Macon for dinner on our way to Beaune. There was a döner kebab truck at the riverside park thronged with happy customers. I was tempted to try this place, but decided I didn't want this to be my first meal in France. Was later sorry I didn't make this choice after a somewhat average dinner at a bistro.

        But I did have a chance to try one in Vieux Lyon. This was made from veal. I did notice that the various places offering these would have a menu posted offering veal, chicken or beef versions with the "beef" crossed out. I did ask for sauce blanche and also harissa as I was craving spicy food by the end of my trip. Really hit the spot!

      3. l
        Leslie Brenner RE: Melanie Wong Feb 28, 2001 06:57 PM

        Lucky you, Melanie! Can I come with?

        Try Christian Têtedoie, 54 quai Pierre Scize, 04 78 28 40 10, fax 04 72 07 05 65. I think it now has one Michelin star. In any case, it's fairly casual, with warm service, just on the edge of Le Vieux Lyon, if I'm remembering right. What I do remember is the best frogs legs I've ever had in my life--in a creme sauce with feves. Unbelievable. I don't know much about the wine list, since I was brought there by Gerard Jaboulet. They have an exhaustive selection of eaux de vie de Metté--amazing.

        Be sure to take some time to walk around Le Vieux Lyon, and visit the marché alongside the river.

        Please can I come?

        5 Replies
        1. re: Leslie Brenner
          Melanie Wong RE: Leslie Brenner Feb 28, 2001 07:15 PM

          Oh I really wish that you would join me, Leslie! RT air from SF to Lyon is less than $500, must be almost free from NY. These two days in Lyon will be my only exposure to an urban environment. I'll be in the wine villages the rest of the time.

          Last year when I visited Burgundy for the first time, I walked into the first cellar and thought to my self, jeez, why didn't I at least learn how to pronounce 1996, 1997, 1998 (vintages)in French? I did learn those quickly! But I have done nothing on my goal of learning some conversational French.

          Friends have a table reserved at Hotellerie Beau Rivage in Condrieu and Michel Chabran in Pont l'Isere. Then yesterday I ran into a friend who represents Tonnellerie Remond who insisted that I see his friends at Chaudron in Tournon. He said that I should prepared to walk, as one cannot drive all the way to the restaurant. Any info on this one?

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            Leslie Brenner RE: Melanie Wong Feb 28, 2001 08:05 PM

            I haven't been to Tournon (to the best of my memory), but the northern Rhone is one of the most amazing wine regions I've ever visited--really spectacular, very hilly. Condrieu! What a thrill. I hope you'll grace us with a full report. Bon voyage!

            1. re: Leslie Brenner
              Melanie Wong RE: Leslie Brenner Mar 4, 2001 04:19 AM

              I ran into Wells Guthrie, winemaker and partner in Copain Wines, who had worked at Chapoutier for nearly a year. He filled me in on Chaudron. He says that one can drive in by taking a roundabout back route but that it is easier to take a short walk. He said it was his favorite of the local restaurants, and thinks I might bump into Jean-Louis Chave there.

              I'm looking forward to hiking the hill of Hermitage and seeing La Chapelle. Had a chance to practice my minimal French today with the Burgundians, now I have to learn how to pronounce 1999. (g)

          2. re: Leslie Brenner
            Melanie Wong RE: Leslie Brenner Apr 1, 2001 04:54 PM

            Leslie, Christian Tetedoie was a super recommendation. Turned out to be our best meal of the trip. The staff are genuinely warm and helpful. We were there on a Friday night when the place was packed, and they were literally running to take care of everyone. I was especially impressed with how each member of the service team who walked by the table took a conscious look to see if we needed anything. The sommelier even poured our water --- that was a first! And, needless to say, the food was very good, beating out some more expensive restaurants we tried. I'm editing my pics and will share a couple of our meal here.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              Leslie Brenner RE: Melanie Wong Apr 2, 2001 09:40 AM

              Melanie, I'm so glad Tetedoie didn't disappoint. And I'm looking forward to reading an expanded travelogue!

          3. d
            Dena RE: Melanie Wong Feb 28, 2001 09:48 PM

            Chez Tante Paulette, by all means! The following description comes from my 1990 travel journal, so it's obviously not current. If the restaurant's still there, you would find it worth your while.

            "After consulting Patricia Wells, we finally decided on Chez Tante Paulette, which Wells recommended strongly, particularly for the poulet à l’ail (chicken with garlic) for two. We went in and told a young woman we wanted to have lunch there, but that we weren’t quite ready to eat yet. She spotted the copy of The Food-Lover’s Guide to France tucked under Jimmy’s arm and asked if we were there for THE CHICKEN. We nodded, “Mais, oui!” She told us it would take about forty minutes to prepare and suggested we take a walk and return then. So we went window-shopping and returned at 2:00, to be greeted by incredible, mouth-watering odors, wafting from the kitchen, into the dining room, and out onto the street.

            This has got to be the smallest restaurant dining room I’ve ever seen: there were four tables, I think, seating ten lucky patrons—maybe twelve, if they were all slender. We began with a truly marvelous salade frisée aux lardons (curly endive with small pieces of thick-sliced bacon and homemade croutons and a warm mustard-vinaigrette dressing). We asked for a local white wine and an earthenware pitcher of Macon was delivered to the table, followed by THE CHICKEN: one large chicken, cut into about ten pieces, subtly seasoned and sautéed with garlic, wine, and butter, then flamed with cognac. It was resting in a Reisling wine sauce, surrounded by cooked, unpeeled garlic cloves and toasted slices of French bread. The waitress demonstrated: you squeeze the cloves of garlic out of the peel, like toothpaste from a tube, onto a piece of toast. Then mash them down a little with a fork, swish them in the sauce, and pop ‘em down. What an experience! She also brought us a bowl of pommes lyonnaise (potatoes, diced and fried to perfection) to have with THE CHICKEN.

            After all the bones were in a nice, neat pile and we’d done in a second pitcher of Macon, the waitress presented us with a cheese tray and an apple tart. It was, without doubt, the best meal we had on this trip. Definitely worth the 576-mile round-trip from Paris. (Jimmy said it was worth the entire 4,176-mile round-trip from New York!)" The tab was less than 300 francs, but this was eleven years ago.

            Wherever you end up dining, I hope you have a wonderful trip. And please report back!

            11 Replies
            1. re: Dena
              Melanie Wong RE: Dena Mar 4, 2001 04:14 AM

              What a wonderful chow memory! Thanks so much for passing it along.

              1. re: Dena
                emily RE: Dena Mar 5, 2001 01:17 AM

                dena, this was one of the posts that got me hooked on chowhound. yours is one of the names i watch for and trust. thanks.


                1. re: emily
                  Dena RE: emily Mar 5, 2001 08:33 AM

                  Emily, what a nice thing to say! I'm imagine I'm not alone in wondering if my occasional contributions have benefited anyone so it was gratifying to get your response.


                  1. re: Dena
                    Melanie Wong RE: Dena Mar 5, 2001 10:10 PM

                    Dena, the Lyon Chamber of Commerce has a terrific search engine that allowed me to find more info about Leslie's recommendation. But no luck for yours and I haven't been able to find any recent mentions of Chez Tante Paulette. The clip below is from 1998, can someone tell me what it says?

                    "Tante Paulette" n'est plus ! :
                    Digne héritière des légendaires mères lyonnaises, elle ne revendiquait pas cette appellation, lui préférant celle de... tante. C'est sous le nom de "Tante Paulette" que Marie-Louise Auteli a donc fait sa longue carrière à Lyon où, il y peu encore et sous le seul prétexte de régaler quelques amis, elle allait mitonner son fameux poulet à l'ail dans quelques cuisines amies...
                    Si elle avait débuté à la plonge chez "La Mère Pompon" au 28 de la rue Chavanne, elle reprit l'établissement à son compte, lui donna son nom et resta pendant plus de 40 ans (42 ans et 3 mois pour les amateurs de chiffres) aux fourneaux. A plus de quatre-vingt ans, cette ancienne lauréate du Prix Gnafron vient de s'éteindre.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      Dena RE: Melanie Wong Mar 5, 2001 11:39 PM

                      I’m heartbroken. My French isn’t all that good, but the gist of it is “The restaurant no longer exists. The woman who owned the restaurant, Marie-Louise Auteli, was among the legendary Lyonnaise mothers, but she preferred to be known as “aunt.” Under the pretext of entertaining her friends, she originated her famous chicken with garlic. She spent 42 years and 3 months at the stove. She was over eighty years old when she died.”

                      I’m missed a lot of this – about her start in the business – because I just don’t have the vocabulary. I’m so glad that Jimmy and I had the experience of dining at Chez Tante Paulette, and I’m so sorry that you won’t have that opportunity.

                      The recipe for the chicken dish is in Patricia Wells’ “Food Lover’s Guide to France” and I know from experience that it is do-able. But it just won’t be the same.

                      1. re: Dena
                        Melanie Wong RE: Dena Mar 6, 2001 06:30 PM

                        I'd feared that might be what it said. Clearly Auntie Paulette lives on in the hearts and souls of those fortunate to enjoy her special dishes. I'm glad we had a chance to honor her memory on Chowhound again.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          emily RE: Melanie Wong Mar 6, 2001 11:51 PM

                          oh no. that's the saddest thing i've heard in a long time. i'll never taste that chicken.

                          (what follows is corny but sincere)

                          the poignant thing about aesthetic pleasure, and maybe part of what makes it meaningful, is that it's so damned ephemeral. we want beauty and deliciousness to last forever, but if they did, they wouldn't be as beautiful or as delicious.

                          i guess reading about that chicken was in some ways as good as tasting it. hence my addiction to this site.

                          1. re: emily
                            Dena RE: emily Mar 7, 2001 09:21 AM

                            Emily -- don't despair! As I mentioned earlier in this thread, the recipe for Tante Paulette's Chicken with Garlic is in Patricia Wells' "Food Lover's Guide to France." If you don't have the book and/or don't want to buy it, let me know and I'll email you a copy of the recipe.

                            As for ephemeral pleasures -- that's true to a degree, but why mourn their passing if it's possible to return to them? I've made this recipe a couple of times and the result was really very close to the original. And isn't that better than nothing?

                            -- Dena

                            1. re: Dena
                              Caitlin McGrath RE: Dena Mar 7, 2001 04:03 PM

                              Dena, I for one, would love to have that recipe. If you become ambitious enough to email it, please put me on the list!

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                Andy P. RE: Caitlin McGrath Mar 8, 2001 04:37 AM

                                Hi Dena,

                                I'm starting to salivate. If it isn't too much trouble, could you please add me to the email list for the recipe?

                                Domo Arigato,

                        2. re: Dena
                          wendy jackson RE: Dena Mar 7, 2001 02:36 PM

                          The part that you missed about the start of her career says that she began as dishwasher (la plonge), and bought the place with her pay, giving it her own name. Amazing.

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