Dining in Lyon and beyond
I believe the original Pyramide chef referenced here was Fernand Point. I came across this post look up a reference to him for an article I'm writing about a visit to Boston's Aujourd'hui Restaurant, where we had a 3 course Rhone tasting meal recently. The sommelier referenced point in his intro to the meal.
Last December we went to Lyon during the Fete de Lumiere. That is something to be seen. We ate dinner at LeCaro de Lyon and at Le Bistrot de Lyon. Both were good, but only a shadow compared to our very favorite meal in France. I had read favorable things about Le Gourmet de Seze, and from the heartfelt reviews I knew we should go. What a find! This restaurant is small, pristine, warm, quaint and not at all snooty. The staff are young and charming. I was most impressed on how they keep their finger on the pulse of each table. The restaurant offers a la carte as well as a pre fixe. We ordered the pre fixe et vins en accord avec les plats for $57 euros.
We were served an amuse bouche of thin little warm toasts with different toppings - homecured salmon, cheese, pate, and tiny cream puffs filled with cheese. Next came another amuse - a tiny jar (like the canning jars with the lids that snap down) of chicken soup with vegetables. It was by far the best chicken soup I have ever tasted. This was followed by our first course of sea bass served on a bed of grated celery root with a vinaigrette. It was delicious - this was served with a Chateau de Perchade Turasn Blanc.
Our main was simply amazing - Coquilles Saint Jacques with Foie gras served atop of bed of creamed winter vegetables and a balsamique reduction. Every bite was a sensorial experience. The scallops were so tender and cooked perfectly, the foie gras was crispy on the outside, and velvetty on the inside so the marriage between the ingredients was celestial. This course was served with Domaine Gineste Caillac Blanc Cuvee Aurore.
The cheese couse was next and this was the only decision we had to make that evening, dry or white. The dry presented a wedge of about 5 cheeses which included goat, sheeps and cows milk selections. The white was an interesting bowl of soft creamy snow white cheese which tasted something between sour cream and cheese - also served was another soft white cheese that came molded and served on a plate to be eaten with sugar sprinkled on top. This course was served with Chateau Prieure Borde Rouge Corbiere - Le Jardin de Frederic.
After 2 1/2 hours our last course, Le Grand Dessert du Gourmet was served. It consisted of four small plates to be eaten in a specific order. On the first was a small molded tart with roasted apples on the bottom topped with a delicious inch or so of cream brulee. This was followed by a refreshing, visually pleasing fruit salad. The fresh fruit was pristine and was enhanced with bits of dried fruit as well. Following this was a small lemon tart with a delicious lemon curd topping. All of these were served with Asti Riflessi. Lastly, was a delectable warm chocolate gateau which was served with a small glass of Banyuls. WOW - what an experience.
What sets this restaurant apart were the small things. Each time they served us wine, very generous pours by the way, the waiter brought over his atlas of France and showed us exactly where each wine came from. When we were leaving, chef Bernard Mariller came out and asked about our dinner. He was so charming and humble. When I asked to take home a menu to remember the night with, the waiter brought it to me in a sealed envelope. The food was tops, and yet this little restaurant with all their attention to detail, knows how to make it even better. C'est parfait.
Nicolas Le Bec is a fantastic young chef. Beautiful, original food. I believe he just got his first Michelin star.
For a special romantic (I think Michelin 2 star) try Auberge de L'isle. Wonderful and unique.
It is hard to go wrong in and around Lyon for food. From Bouchons to 3 stars, it has everything. It is also, generally, less expensive than Paris, and a lot easier to get into just about any place.
One of the greatest meals I ever had was in the dining room of Le Pyramide Hotel in Vienne, which is about 20 minutes North of Lyon. Make reservations and having lunch is more reasonable but just as satisfying. The greatest poulet I have ever eaten and the attention to quality, service and detail is not surpassed even in the top Paris restaurants. Highest recommendation.
For places to eat on your way to Spain like St Jean de Luz; advise going to www.lefooding.com and doing a search of the areas of France you will be driving through. Le Fooding is the top website for restaurants in France whose contributors are the top restaurant critics in France. The other food site which has great recommendations is www.guidegantie.com
At the top of the Fourviere, to the right of the cathedral there is the Restaurant de Fourvière. It has stunning views of all of Lyon and a typical Lyonnais menu. If you can read French here is a web site with some more details: http://www.fra.webcity.fr/restaurants.... If you go, ask for Eddy as your server. I knew him when he worked in Houston, TX. Enjoy!
Don't forget to go to Bernachon for some of the world's best chocolates too!