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May 13, 2007 12:30 AM

ISO Lyonnaise Cuisine - SF, Berkeley or Oakland

Hi! Could anyone tell me if there are any good restaurants that specialize specifically in Lyonnaise, bouchon-style cuisine in San Francisco, Berkeley, or Oakland? TIA!

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  1. Not that I've ever heard of. Few traditional French restaurants of any sort, it's mostly Cal-French around here. Any dishes in particular?

    1. Quenelles (actually quenelle, single), Lyonnaise-style onion and cheese tart, onion soup, and related specialties are offered at the Left Bank brasserie chain with slightly different interpretations sometimes at different sites. Service can be uneven and sometimes the servers aren't trained to pronounce the French names eveyrthing has. Left Banks are scattered outside SF proper. I've tried Menlo Park, SJ (Santana Row), and San Mateo (4-6 visits each), best results I think at San Mateo.

      Also there are a few independent, true French-run cafés with some of these specialties. Le Petit Bistro near the Palo Alto - Mountain View border has been very good. (Brigitte's in Santa Clara closed a few months ago unfortunately.)

      7 Replies
      1. re: eatzalot

        The only Lyonnaise dish I see on Left Bank's current menu is salade Lyonnaise. They've currently got asparagus quiche instead of tarte Lyonnaise.

        Jeanty at Jack's in SF, Nizza la Bella in Albany, and Liaison in Berkeley do good versions of that dish. Don't see any other Lyonnaise dishes at any of them.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I would love to find some good quenelles (I like the pâte ones, but I'd take the fish ones too), but I would also love to see a good meat menu. How about a good tête de veux?

          1. re: coolbean98

            If it's fish quenelles in sauce nantua you seek, then you might want to try A Street Cafe in Hayward. Haven't been there in ages, but remember the quenelles in particular. Here's my old post,
            And, yes, I have earned my bouchon stripes on the streets of Lyon (ca. 2002).

            Bistro Jeanty also makes some nice quenelles, though it has been a few years since I've ordered them so can't speak to the quality now.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            Hi Robert, all of the dishes I mentioned trying at Left bank are typical of Lyon and the Lyonnais district (I've had them there too, and this point is also in reference books) though they may not carry the word on a menu. That's how I understood the request. There's another sense of "à la lyonnaise" (sometimes with small L) associated with onion dishes.

            I'm surprised to hear the onion tart's off the Left Bank menu, it was a signature dish. (Quenelles are rare in US restaurants in my experience. Can't help with any tête de veux, sorry.)

            1. re: eatzalot

              I've seen other Lyonnaise dishes at Left Bank in the past, I was just talking about their current menu.

              Their "onion soup des Halles" is a Parisian dish. The Lyon version has more bread.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I didn't know that about different presentations of onion soups. But these are diverse even in Paris, and also at Left Bank locations. Menu texts aside, onion soup ordered several times in San Jose had a distinctive sweetness as from a fortified wine and/or brandy addition. A recent order of onion soup at the Menlo Park location didn't have this, it was less sweet and in general more typical of US restaurant onion soups.

                Though not Lyonnaise the Doubletree Hotel of 101 near SJ airport has a steakhouse, Spencer's, that has served impressive onion soups (I like onion soups) with a three-cheese topping, a light meal themselves. Also a massive potato fry with onions (like the Rösti in Switz. -- any Lyonnaise diner might approve) and fresh "dry" deep-dish apple pie -- all meals in themselves.

                1. re: eatzalot

                  Les Halles-style onion soup is topped with a crouton and cheese. Most old-school French restaurants around here serve that--Le Central, Le Charm, Cafe Bastille, Petit Robert.

                  Lyon-style, first they layer croutons and cheese in the bowl, then fill it with soup, so it's a heartier dish. I haven't seen that around here.