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May 1, 2008 01:05 PM

Restaurants in Lyon -- a splurge

What are two or three of the best/most famous restaurants in Lyon for a totally decadent experience? Assume money is not an issue.

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  1. I'm gonna be hit again but I'll say it again: Paul Bocuse is great, and as far as decadent is concerned, it doesn't get any better. I discussed the topic there: Bocuse is not that expensive commpared to other top restaurants: . Stay away from the big menu, it is not human. Even the first price set menu will leave you full (and hopefully happy) for days.

    Léon de Lyon apparently reopened as more casual place (like Senderens, Constant) and it was decadent too. In general Lyons has no shortage in the area but I am not a local or a regular. When in the region, I focus on Alain Chapel and Bocuse. There's le Bec too -- I read very contradictory reports and I haven't been. But he now will start running the restaurant on top of the opera house... in Paris.

    I also read that La Mère Brazier just reopened under the management of a very good young chef (a MOF).

    8 Replies
    1. re: souphie

      Auberge de I’lle

      I think Auberge d I’Ile is one of the most under- rated Micchelin 2 stars. It is really a shame as this is a restaurant that should get more attention and press.

      1. Fried sweetbread cube
      2. In a small tart a mousse of something I can’t remember
      3. On a glass plate a tempura of many vegetables and herbs i.e. potatoes, beet root, basil and zucchini

      2nd amuse
      A small langoustine with pink grapefruit. Then a delicate broth was poured over the langoustine. This was a light breath of spring—a morsel but handled with great finesse.

      1st course:
      Delicate Mollet de Foie Gras, Morilles et Asperge, emulsion “comme un cappuccino”.
      First there was a layer of foie gras that was almost like a flan, then small morel mushrooms, and cut up green asparagus from Luperon. Covering all was a foie gras emulsion that did mimic cappuccino.
      This dish was extraordinary—inventive as well as delicious!!!

      2nd course:
      Tarte folle de tous les jeunes primeurs du printemps, une crème glacee a la moutarde douce—
      The tart was full of the best young vegetables of spring—peas, peapods, carrots, radish, string beans, purple potato and turnips. On the top was a mustard ice cream—reminiscent of Passard’s gazpacho with ice cream and Ludo’s use of savory ice creams to highlight a dish. Again this was inventive and delicious.

      3rd course:
      Langoustine Bretonne royale, chutney de fruits acidule d’un beurre d’agrumes—3 large grilled langoustines from Brittany, with chutney on the side.

      The langoustines were topped with a reduction of shallots and red wine and spiced with Indian spices. The saucing was a bright yellow citrus butter that had a carbonated quality.

      4th course:
      Blanquette de Grenouilles, Quenelles tres legeres de brochet, nougatine a l’ail des ours.

      This was a superb dish that displayed why JC is 2 stars and hinted at 3 star abilities…he is definitely on the rise. This dish showed JC’s attention to detail, his awareness of texture as well as taste. It also showed his ability to execute each element successfully. On a garlic leaf were stewed plump frogs legs and broad beans with pike quenelles as light as air and a nougatine of garlic…WOW!!!

      5th course:
      Omble chevalier with mushroom mousseline. The char lake fish similar to salmon trout tasted as if it had just been caught. The saucing was almost like hollandaise with mushroom enhanced whipped cream added. Sticking like a wing from the fish was the crispy skin. Simple—exquisite!!!

      6th course:
      Mignon d’Agneau de lait cuit en croute de Sel, Tomates “Coeur de Pigeon” et Aigre-doux.
      The lamb is first presented whole and then returned to the kitchen for plating. The lamb sat on small whole tomatoes done sweet/sour. Tapanade (a puree of capers, black olives, anchovies and herbs with olive oil and lemon juice added) sat on top of the lamb. The saucing was traditional—each ingredient worked together to create fabulous flavors.

      7th course:
      Cheese cart with selections from Lyon Fromagers—Cellerier, Lery andla Mere Richard

      8th course:
      Warm peach soufflé…nice transition…simple and clean.

      9th course:

      Auberge de I’lle is a solid 2 star restaurant with a gifted, talented, charming chef. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, the service cordial and professional.

      1. re: lizziee

        Auberge de L'Il is in Strasbourg, which is nowhere near Lyon!

        1. re: ChefJune

          Na, Auberge de l'Ill is by Colmar but Auberge de l'Ile is on the Lyons "Island".

            1. re: souphie

              Re: Auberge de l'Ill--Paul Haeberlin died this past Saturday...

          1. re: lizziee

            Good to hear it was good. Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex is opening a restaurant in London this summer and it will be good to see how much of Auberge de I’lle comes across.

          2. re: souphie

            We went to La Mere Brazier last year.

            Mind you it was not a splurge as the prices there are quite reasonable. I went more for sentimental reasons (it's where a few famous chefs got their starts after all).

            THe Salade Gourmandes was really good, as was the brese chicken with truffles.

            I'm surprised nobody has written about it for such a long time!

            1. re: doctorandchef

              I can't write anything good about the place. It is the only restaurant in Lyon to which I do not wish to return.... the meal was not "terrible," but it was leaden.

          3. There's a wonderful restaurant in the suburb of Écully in the Institut Paul Bocuse a culinary and hotel management school. The prices are very reasonable since it is in essence a lab for the students, but when I was there, the food and the ambiance definitely rated 2 stars.

            I haven't heard anything lately about Philippe Chavent's place, La Tour Rose, but it used to be quite wonderful. His bistro, Comptoir du Boeuf, is tasty and fun.

            Im in disagreement with Souphie about Bocuse, but he's probably been there more recently. I and everyone I know who's been there in the past 10 years have regretted spending the time and money on the place. I found it tired, and the food definitely uninspired. A shell of what it obviously once was.... The Michelin folks must know something an awful lot of diners don't.....

            Many Lyonnais I've spoken with really love the one-star Pierre Orsi. I do know that Orsi was a mentor to many of the young chefs in the region. I haven't been to his place since 92, so my personal assessment would be WAAAY outdated.

            7 Replies
            1. re: ChefJune

              In Vonnas, a taxi ride outside of Macon is Georges Blanc, where I have had the best meals of my life for more than 20 years. The Menu Decouverte is a French tour de force, taking 4-5 hours and available at either lunch or dinner as of my last visit a few years back...there are other, shorter menus for the faint at heart as well. It's a few minutes to cross the 50 miles from Lyon to Macon by TGV and absolutely worth the trip. (He has a brasserie in Lyon itself called Le Splendid, I have never tried it but plan to do so, in the interest of research, of course, next month.) Like Bocuse, many claim his best days are past, but I must say he has never failed me or the guests I've brought there.

              1. re: globalgourmet

                Vonnas is a place I have been wanting to dine for a long time. I probably should make that happen this fall.

                Le Splendid is indeed aptly named. We have had a couple of really wonderful meals there, and the service is spot on, as well.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  Call me if you want company at Vonnas.

                  1. re: souphie

                    I want company at a Lyon splurge meal. I like eating alone but sometimes it's fun to share

                2. re: globalgourmet

                  I second Georges Blanc; this was our single most noteable dinner ever. Four plus hours of great, traditional dinning. And the price was perhaps 2/3 of what you would pay in Paris for a comparable *** experience. Food snobs put it down, as they do Boucuse (love that truffle soup!); don't you believe it.

                  1. re: Oakglen

                    REally? I've never heard Georges Blanc referred to in those terms....

                3. re: ChefJune

                  La Tour Rose lost all its stars and is no longer listed in Michelin. It is awful.

                4. How do I get to Auberge de l'ile from the Lyon airport?

                  Is there a good hotel close by?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: AlaskaItaly

                    I was told that LeBec has his third star.
                    I have not read about it.
                    He certainly deserves it.
                    I told him so, when we were there.
                    Our favorite meal meal in Lyon was LeBec.
                    Loved and was "WOWED" by every bite.
                    Would love to return.

                    1. re: erly

                      Le Bec does not have the third star.

                      Had a fundamentally crappy meal there this summer.Pics:

                      1. re: souphie

                        soupie, so sorry to hear your comments.
                        Possibly it is just as well that we never made it back for a second meal.
                        Our meal there as I reported some time ago was superb.
                        Second to L'Ambroisie, which you recommended to us some time ago, and the chef that I most admire.