So, by now you’ve heard us say that Lyon is the gastronomical capitol of France. Well, we were there for about 36 hours…but what we had, I can truly say, was some of the best food we have ever eaten in our entire lives. Seriously. Leon de Lyon, by chef Jean-Paul Lamcombe, is a 2-star Michelin restaurant that is known for its classic Lyonnaise cuisine and for whimsical, yet gorgeous decor. Wow. Was that ever true.
We even got to meet Chef Jean-Paul. He came out to talk to the lovely French couple (who happened to be joined by their adorable, and somewhat large, dog…Airedale). He obviously was friends with the couple. As he was leaving, we grabbed him and told him all about H2FaL and how excited we were to eat at a place that was so beloved by people all over France and beyond. He was extremely gracious…and said, in a very heavy French accent…’but it’s only a brasserie.” We felt pretty sure, what we were about to eat, wasn’t just your everyday run-of-the mill brasserie (even though, even the slouchiest of brasseries in France, were exceptionally good).
Our attentive waiter immediately brought us our menus (none in English)…but he was helpful…at least he tried. Fortunately, we were told by some local foodies what we must try, and fortunately, they had written it down for us, and we found them on the menu, and ordered them, along with an amazing French wine. We were beside ourselves with excitement.
The restaurant decor was exactly as we had heard…fun, festive, but beautiful. French paintings and black and white pictures of patrons, celebrities, and world leaders adorned the walls. Just a trip to the water closet, which was one floor down the stairs, was an adventure. You pass the bustling kitchen, an art gallery, seated happy people clearly enjoying a wonderful dining experienc, a full wine cellar…and that was just on the way to the restroom!
Okay…let’s get on with the food. To kick things off, Wesley ordered an amazing Pâté en croûte maison à l’acienne. So, “Pâté en croûte maison” literally means “pate of the house” and it is baked in a luxurious buttery dough. The pate was made with house-made sweetbread, which is not what it sounds like…it’s actually the thymus and pancreas of an animal, typically milk-fed calves. The sweetbreads were combined with house-made foi gras, a white poultry stock and pistachios. This made an incredible Pâté that was baked in the incredible bread. It was served with a petite, beautifully dressed spinach salad. Nothing short of amazing in every bite.
Kris ordered the Salade Lyonaisse. In American words: “O.M.G.” This consisted of a Dijon-dressed frisee salad. Along with œuf mollet sur oignons – which is the most amazing soft-poached egg on a bed of caramelized balsamic onions. Along with a large slab of thick, delicious bacon. And finally, these are joined with a crispy, deeply flavorful cake called Cake aux Oreilles de Cochon…which I later learned was a savory cake, studded with pig ears. Yes, pig ears. This salad, we learned, was 100% classic Lyonaisse…and it was nothing short of incredible.
Okay…we were well on our way. We were in Lyonaisse Culinary Heaven…and it was just about to get even better. So, onto the Plats (or, the main dish). We both ordered dishes that were recommended as “Lyonaisse classics,” that Jean-Paul have perfected. All I can say is…for both of us…we literally have never had anything like this in our lives. The food is transcendent. I mean it…you just can’t believe the amazing flavors, textures, and depth…everything…it is truly magical.
Let’s start with Kris. I ordered Andouillette lyonnaise / tirée à la ficelle / escalopée en tranches épaisses, panées, poêlées. Okay…the andouillette is a sausage made from pork tripe…yep, pig stomach. They are in the shape of medallions, tied with string. Once again…it was like nothing I had ever eaten. It tasted like sausage, but the flavor profile was so layered. Rich, but not too much. Just incredible. It came with lightly fried au gratin potatoes…creamy, crunchy…and nothing like you’ve ever had, or at least anything we had ever had (and we’ve had quite a bit). And a lovely Dijon dressed salad. It all was, once again, amazing.
And now…the star of the night. Possibly, of the entire trip through France. Our French foodie friend recommended we ordere the Quenelle de brochet frais, cuit au four. We literally had no idea what we were ordering. What followed, is something we will remember until the day we die. And if we ate these every day of our lives…we’d probably die sooner than later. But, let’s get onto to this “beyond description” dish:
We now know exactly what it was: Quenelle de brochet frais is a subtle, but melt-in-your-mouth, mousse cake baked in a French enamel vessel. It is a true Lyonnaise specialty, that requires a ‘special touch’ to achieve the perfect consistency. This version was made with pike, a fish caught locally from the Rhone River, as well as fresh lobster. Free-range eggs from the neighboring region of Bresse are used…this region is world-known for it highest quality poultry. The eggs, along with butter and flour are incorporated with the pike and the lobster. And finally poached in a Natau cream sauce…or a refined butter sauce. Um. There seriously are no words for this dish. This truly left us speechless.
When we were done…(we were so stuffed, we could hardly move)…Chef Jean-Paul came back to our table to see how we liked the meal. We were practically speechless. He happily took our H2FaL business card, and then posed for a picture with the Loon. Then, he had our server bring over an after-dinner specialty liquor. A perfect ending to a perfect meal. Simply divine.Leon de Lyon, Chef Jean-Paul Lacombe 1 rue Pleney Lyon, France Phone: +33 4 72 10 11 12 Reservations recommended $$$$