To be in the middle of everything, I rented an AirBnB apartment in the 2nd Arrondissement, in the centre of Lyon. You get the feeling of being on an island here as the area is limited by the Rhône to the east and the Saône to the west but you’re actually on a narrow peninsula formed by the confluence of the two rivers.
My Google map is here.
One of the things you really have to do when you go to Lyon is to eat at a Bouchon. These are traditional Lyonnais restaurants that serve local wines and dishes; typically sausages, pâtés and roasts. Most of them aren’t very good apparently, but the ones I went to were excellent…
Café Comptoir Abel (High Intermediate A), 25 Rue Guynemer, www.cafecomptoirabel.fr
A historic bouchon, established in 1726 but perhaps in this building since 1928.
I chose to sit inside on the ground floor so I could take in the atmosphere.
I particularly love the old zinc covered bar.
There are also three private rooms available for groups upstairs.
I came for the Sunday lunch and had the three-course €49 Menu Domincal, except that I added a couple of courses.
Proceedings began with a glass of fizz.
And soon thereafter, some Foie Gras Toasts (B+).
Not having had any breakfast I added the Quenelle de Brochet au Gratin; a gratinated pike quenelle (A).
A quenelle is a mix of creamed fish or meat, perhaps with breadcrumbs, with a lightly bound with egg and formed into an egg shape for cooking. Lyon is particularly famous for pike quenelles.
Then Filet de Beouf aux Morilles (A), or beef fillet in a sauce of morel mushrooms (A+).
A bottle of Chateau Mazerolles helped it all down (B+).
For dessert you had a choice of cheese or sweet so I had both, beginning with a spot of Fromage and a nicely dressed salad (B+).
Then a hefty slice of Gateaux de Maron (A).
I asked for a glass of wine to go with this and expected something sweet but got a glass of Saint Joseph. It went fairly well I guess (B).
Finally a stiff glass of a pomace brandy called Marc de Bourgogne (B).
A great meal! This was my first meal in Lyon and it was a great start to a wonderful culinary holiday.
This next place is another local instituion…
Brasserie Georges (High Intermediate B+), 30 Cours de Verdun, www.brasseriegeorges
It’s an absolutely huge brasserie (I’m guessing it seats around 300), built in 1836.
Although obviously the Art Deco décor is more recent.
I had the Menu Lyonnais for €27.50.
First Bavarois d’Asperges Vertes et Ouef Poche, Sauce Mousseline et Jambon Truffe, or Bavarian cream of green asparagus with poached egg, mousseline sauce and truffled ham which was fabulous (B+).
Then Saucisson Pistache ‘Maison Bobosse’ a la Maconnaise, Pommes de Terre Ecrasees a la Fourchette, or a local pork and pistachio sausage in a white wine sauce with mashed potatoes (B+).
For the cheese course I opted for the bland Cervelle de Canut, a fromage blanc spread that is a speciality of Lyon (B).
I added on the ‘Granny Smith’ Sable aux Pommes; apple shortbread with vanilla mouselline cream (B).
They make their own beer. A 40cl Biere Saisnon (B+) is around €5. With a milk coffee the total was just under €50.
So a good place with good food. It should be experienced just for the building itself.
Off to the 3rd Arrondissement for more good food next!
2 thoughts on “Lyon – two classic restaurants in the 2nd Arrondissement”
We spent a week in Lyon seven or eight years ago, also staying in the Presqu’île district. We tried several bouchons and were mostly disappointed while failing several times to get into (the recommended) Petit Bouchon Chez Georges (a different Georges from yours) even though it was just round the corner from where we were staying and I tried going in the day to book ahead. The best meal by far, indeed one of the best I have ever had, was, however, an impulse ‘menu de jour’ lunch at Cafe Chantecler up in Croix Rousse after going to see the big street market there: tartare de boeuf with perfect chunky chips. This place gets mixed reviews but we had no complaints.
Lyon is, of course, a foody city, supposedly the gastronomic capital of France, the late Tony Bourdain made a great ‘No Reservations’ programme about it, including a segment with Paul Bocuse himself. This episode should be available on Netflix. This reputation is not necessarily a good thing. There’s a lot of exploitation of this at both the low end and high end with ‘bouchons’ for the tourist trade and ultra pricy food shops at Les Halles Bocuse in the eastern part of the city (defnitely not worth the voyage). Best thing for me was the street markets both in Croix Rousse and elsewhere such as on the riverside quais by the Saone. Wonderful cheeses, especially St Marcellin. I also share your liking for quenelles de brochet, unobtainable here as pike are a protected species these days.
As a Deco fan I’ve put Brasserie Georges on my ‘To Do’ list if I ever get near Lyon again.
Thanks Iain, I’ll try and dig up that episode of No Reservations. Yes, I think you have to choose where you eat very carefully. Les Halles was expensive but I did enjoy my oyster blowout there (next post) and I got a few fancy food photos for the blog. Agree there are other places to try before going back though. I did have a wander through a small street market but didn’t purchase any of the wonderful cheeses on show as I knew I’d get some later in the countryside, which is another post that is to come…