John Brunton, The Guardian, May 27, 2014
Canut et les Gones
This beautiful bistro claims to be a traditional bouchon (Lyon tavern) but it is a lot more than that, and well worth the effort of finding it on the edge of the Croix-Rousse quarter. First, there is the decor, which owner Frank Blanc has built up over 20 years from trips to flea markets and garage sales, creating a series of dining rooms that resemble an Aladdin's cave of retro deco. Then there's the present chef, Junzo Matsuno, who is Japanese, and has added a slightly exotic touch to traditional Lyon cooking, such as a chunky slice of lieu jaune (pollack) with coriander butter, pumpkin purée, pickled mango and roasted baby leeks - without ignoring the classics like a gratin of andouillette sausage with mashed potatoes.
• 29 rue Belfort, + 33 478 291723, lecanutetlesgones.com. Lunch plat du jour €10.50, three-course evening set menu €28.50
La Cave d'à Côté
Hidden away down a dark, narrow alleyway, this soaring vaulted wine cellar dating back to the 18th century has been converted into a funky wine bar, one of Lyon's most popular evening meeting places. You can lounge on a leather sofa or sit round one of the communal tables and select wines from a lengthy list of Côtes-du-Rhônes and Beaujolais, including a crisp Beaujolais Blanc that the owner, Fred, produces in his own vineyard. The service is friendly but a bit chaotic, and the food is limited to plates of charcuterie and cheese to accompany the wines. But that makes it the perfect spot to discover the specialities of these parts, like rosette de Lyon sausage, Saint-Marcellin cheese and saucisse à la pistache.
• 7 rue Pleney, + 33 478 283146. The big sharing platter may seem expensive at €20, but there is easily enough for two.
Eating out in Lyon is not just about traditional bouchons and Michelin-starred temples of gastronomy. There are several new affordable contemporary restaurants run by up-and-coming young chefs who are redefining gourmet cuisine and tempting diners with their tasting menus. Grégoire Baratier is only 28 years old, but his cool modern dining room, on the banks of the Rhône, is full every night, which is hardly surprising when he offers a creative three-course tasting menu for only €24.90. Diners sense a real buzz in the tiny kitchen, where Grégoire and his two assistants prepare an ever changing medley of dishes - poached egg in intense vin jaune with a cream of morels, wild sea bass on a bed of leeks and oyster mushrooms, and a vanilla and lemon blancmange with zesty lime sorbet.
• 22 Rue Gentil, +33 478 373797, lejeanmoulin.fr. Traditional three-course lunch menu €13.50, evening tasting menu €24.90
Bouchon Le Jura
Although it is named after another region of France, Le Jura is the perfect place to plunge into the traditional world of Lyon's famous bouchons. The small, cosy dining room appears unchanged since the day it opened in 1867, and owner-chef Brigitte Josserand has faithfully recreated the signature dishes of Lyonnaise cuisine here for 34 years. This is the place to be adventurous and order the challenging tête de veau or tablier de sapeur (fried breaded tripe), tasty andouillette sausages smothered in a rich Beaujolais sauce, or the light, fluffy gâteau de foie de vollaille (mousse-like chicken liver terrine). While Brigitte follows the Lyonnais custom of "la mère cuisinière" (feisty women chefs running the kitchen), the Jura is very much a family affair, with her son, Benoît, looking after diners.
• 25 rue Tupin, +33 478 422057, lejura.cartesurtable.com. Lunch plat du jour €13, evening set menu €26.50
As you stroll through the vast Place Bellecour, one of the largest squares in France, it is easy to walk straight past the tiny bookshop In Cuisine. But the small facade is misleading because, once through the door, you enter a foodie paradise. As well as the 4,000-odd cookbooks, there is a delicatessen, a boutique for kitchen utensils, a fully equipped culinary workshop offering lessons for adults and kids and, in the middle, a bright, airy, atrium cafe that serves tea, coffee and cakes all day, and one of the best lunch deals in town. The dishes are a world removed from traditional Lyon cooking, offering the likes of a creamy endive and honey velouté, artichoke and parmesan tart, or a seafood stew, all using products fresh that day from the market.
• 1 place Bellecour, + 33 472 411800, incuisine.fr. Three-course lunch menu €13.50; there is always a vegetarian choice with Friday gluten-free
Le Bouchon des Filles
Isabelle, Laura and Agathe took over this ancient bouchon six years ago, and it has been fully booked ever since. There is an electric atmosphere every evening as diners settle in for a meal of epic proportions. "We don't do two servings," explains Isabelle, "as it takes all evening to get through all the courses, and the idea here is not to be rushed - neither the chef nor the customers." For that reason, they don't offer a "dish of the day" or lighter set menu at lunch. Here, you go for the full bouchon experience: the starter, a défilé des saladiers arrives at your table with dishes of saucisse de Lyon, a mayonnaisy lentil salad, herrings and new potatoes and a crispy green salad. This is followed by, say, a succulent duck pot-au-feu or a slow-cooked stew of tender pig's cheeks, then "cervelle de canut", literally translated as "silk worker's brain", but actually creamy fromage blanc with herbs and shallots. And finally, there's a soufflé topped with green Chartreuse.
• 20 rue Sergent-Blandon,+ 33 478 304044. Four-course menu €25
The vibrant Croix-Rousse neighbourhood has the biggest and best street market in Lyon - one side of the long boulevard is lined with clothes stalls, the other with every kind food stall imaginable, and smack in the middle is one of the city's most ancient brasseries, dating back 150 years and perfect for a lunch break. Sit out on the pavement terrace, under the glass atrium or in the snug dining room, and order one of their huge salads or a Lyonnais take on the cheeseburger made with creamy local Saint-Marcellin. The great deal at lunchtime is the menu du marché, which changes every day and will offer simple starters like a leek and scrambled egg salad, followed by a hearty confit duck with a gratin of cardoons.
• 151 Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, +33 478 281369, cafechantecler.fr. Two-course Menu du Marché €12.50
It is difficult to escape Paul Bocuse in Lyon, what with the main food market bearing his name, his cooking school, and the famed three-Michelin-star restaurant. But Le Sud, his latest brasserie, is an opportunity to sample the spirit of the great man's cooking without spending a fortune. If the sun is out, the sprawling terrace of Le Sud is ideal for eating alfresco and lends itself perfectly to the Mediterranean influences of the cuisine here. The two-course menu du jour is excellent value and served both at lunch and dinner, with seasonal products like a velouté of asparagus with ravioli, and grilled haddock with courgettes and potatoes mashed with olive oil.
• 11 place Antonin Poncet, + 33 472 778000, nordsudbrasseries.com. Two-course menu du jour €22.10
Le Comptoir du Vin
Be prepared for an experience from the moment you walk in to this off-the-beaten-tourist-track bistro. The star is owner-chef Daniel Perrier, who keeps up a one-man show, poking his head out of the serving hatch of what must be one of the tiniest kitchens in Lyon. Somehow he manages to create some wonderful dishes - a legendary steak tartare, poulet à la crème, roast lamb and the best fried potaoes you will ever taste. You'll see that he keeps up a running banter with customers, and Brits should expected to be called rosbifs. Try and change your dish, and ask for a salad instead of potatoes, and he'll shout: "You eat what the chef says you eat." There's also a great selection of wines.
• 2 rue Belfort, + 33 478 398995. Plat du jour €10.50
AOC Les Halles
Lyon's main food market is housed in an unattractive modern building on the unfashionable side of town, but locals flock here at the weekend for their shopping as the quality of the produce - from cheese and foie gras to oysters and charcuterie - is outstanding, and there are a host of bars and bistros for long lazy lunches. A top tip is to book ahead at friendly AOC, a casual winebar with bistro cuisine, where chef Christophe Garnier prepares delicious dishes of the day with products direct from market stalls such as juicy steaks, and the house speciality, a huge succulent marrowbone served on a bed of salad. More than 30 wines, often from small organic vignerons, are served by the glass from €3.
• 102 Cours Lafayette, +33 472 607957. Plat du Jour €11.50
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
This article was written by John Brunton from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.