My four-day weekend away involved two days in Geneva, and most importantly a 28h food fest in Lyon. Lyon, where I lived for three years and which holds a very special place in my heart, is also an incredible city for food. You can eat spectacularly well, and very reasonably. It’s not really a place to go for ethnic food, but it is THE place to travel for real French fare. And if you stay away from the very touristy streets (Rue Mercière and Rue St Jean), you can’t really go wrong with your choice of restaurant either.
The Saône towards Presqu'Ile right after the rain.
Here’s what we ate…
La Gargotte d’Ivan Peric
We were initially aiming to lunch at a place recommended in the essential Lyon guide, Le Petit Paume, called L’Oursin qui Boit. However, it was fully booked (for lunch!), and it was pouring rain, so we randomly entered this piece of heaven on a corner in Rue Royale (near metro Croix Paquet). It’s located in a converted old boulangerie, and it looks amazing. There are lovely pictures of the place here!
Our lunch was without a doubt the best value meal I have had in ages! 15€ got me some lovely scallop risotto, an amazingly decadent hamburger with magret de canard (slices of perfectly cooked duckbreast) with all the fixings (yes, ketchup and kraft cheese, and lovely onion confit), and a chocolate tart with crème anglaise.
Ingeborg ate a mousse made from chicken liver served with escargots, a stuffed eggplant, and an amazing “nuage de fromage blanc” — it was a sort of pale green mousse made from fromage blanc, meringue and lime.
The house wine, at €10 for a big carafe, was a truly excellent Côte du Rhône. The service was super friendly — It was Ivan himself who took the orders and chatted up the customers — and when we left he showered us with red lyonnais pralines to take home with us. A really amazing dining experience!
Le Fournil de l’Opéra
This bakery, on Place Louis Pradel, is worth a visit just for the amazing boules au chocolat blanc… Buns with lots of white chocolate, warm out of the oven if you are lucky. Pure pleasure. We also had a fougasse there for Saturday lunch — we weren’t up for another three course meal…
Le Potager des Halles
A true gem, this little restaurant serves up market fresh menus that change daily. I had salmon carpaccio with a Japanese vinaigrette, a seafood parillada and a divine dessert with stewed strawberries and mangoes and a sort of chevre mousse. Ingeborg had white asparagus and an amazing “burger” with slowcooked beef cheeks in red wine, mi cuit foie gras and onion confit. This fancy burger thing is a trend apparently. This one was if possible more divine, the foie gras was perfect! Her dessert was a rhubarb trio, with rhubarb crumble, rhubarb tiramisu and some other rhubarb concoction. (Ingeborg, what was it again?)
I had an amazing glass of Chassagne Montrachet — a VERY fine Burgundy white — for a mere 5 euros, followed by a lovely Viognier dessert wine.
We discovered that Monoprix had a promo on chocolate from the Belgian chocolatier Newtree. My mother once brought me a Newtree chocolate bar, with flax seeds and chili, so I knew what luck we had… I ended up with two chili ones, one thyme, one “pure” (all of these are made with flax seeds and are downright healthy), as well as a bar of milk chocolate with lavender. I also picked up a Lindt dark chocolate with Fleur de Sel. Yum yum yum!
Nardone, on the Old Town side of the Saône, has the best ice cream in the city. If not the best ice cream around, period… They have a vast array of more or less usual flavors (licorice?), and weekly specials. When we were there, the special was kalamansi. There was really only one choice for me, however: Caramel salé! So, so good!
We also found a great wine store on the Quai de Saône (Presqu’Ile side, quai St Antoine) and had some really good quality croissants at the Marquise bakery in Rue St Jean, and we tested some new Irish pubs in the Old Town (Wallace and James Joyce). I also tried the 1664 Blanche beer for the first time, which was delish.
That was a pretty intense 28 hours in Lyon, the city of my heart. I’ll be coming back again and again, and La Gargotte d’Ivan Peric is now added to my list of must dos..