Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pigging out in Lyon

I still don't know how the Lyonnaise eat like they do and stay healthy and relatively trim. 

  The traditional Lyonnaise dishes are high in fat with a  preponderance of meat dishes often topped with foie gras, very few green vegetables and with the meat dish may come pasta and gratin potatoes on the side.  Sausage and pork are mainstays.  And charcuterie is often the starting dish.   That is not to say that this is not tasty and the food changes with the skill of the chef or restaurant which is reflected, of course, in the prices.

Our first meal was at the moderate Brasserie Georges , a few steps away from our  hotel Normandie in the second arrondissement which lies in the "presqu- ile" between the two Rivers: Saône and Rhône. 

 Brasserie Georges is in an old brewery built in 1836 by an Alsatian owner, Georges Hoffherr .   The restaurant is in much the same genre as La Coupole in Paris and has been meticulously refurbished in 1924 and again in 2005 in the art deco style.  And since 2004, the owners have started brewing Georges beer again in the adjoining bar in view of the customers.  It is a beautiful dining room and bar.

I took this picture when we arrived at 8pm.  It doesn't show how vast the interior is (700 m2 without pillars, held up by three immense beams brought from Chartreuse by oxen in a cart) or all the people who will have arrived after 10 pm.  It seems a popular place.

I was warned by "trip advisor" not to expect friendly or good service from the waiters at Brasserie Georges, but that was not so.   As Gail said, this is probably the only waiter you have ever had who asks you to feel his "abs". ( this segued from a comment about how rich the food was in Lyon and did one have to exercise like mad in order to eat it)  And the service was great too.

   Actually we had a really good time talking to our waiter as it was so unusual to have friendly conversation with a waiter in a busy Bistro anywhere. ( see my last post).

But did I like the meal ?  NO.  I was determined to eat a quenelle which is a mixture of creamed fish, in this case, Pike, sometimes combined with breadcrumbs, with a light egg binding.  Mine, at the brasserie, was in a rich cream sauce flavored perhaps with lobster.  I could only eat part of it.  It was interesting but the sauce overpowered the dish.  

 What else..... the  tiny little cheese ravioli that Gail had for a starter were delicious.  My crab cocktail was a disappointment as I don't like gelatin and the crab was mired in that.  Yuck. very French that.

But we vastly enjoyed our time there .  We would go again if we were in Lyon, as the atmosphere is great.   I got a kick out of all the birthdays, at least 7 were celebrated that night.  For a birthday , the lights would dim , the hurdie gurdie would play and a host of waiters would sing,  all the room then applauding.   Most of the birthday desserts were "Norwegian Omelettes", a specialty of the house.   We teased our waiter that these were nothing but "Baked Alaska", from the States.

While in Lyon,  I did get a glimpse of that "oeuf  en meurette" dish that monsieur and I tried to make a few weeks ago.  The one I saw looked a lot less "Grey's anatomy" as the poached egg was not really cooked in the red wine.

 It looked good but again , a starter in Lyon is a whole meal .

And I did try a Lyonnaise salad too,  while I was there.  It is composed of  bacon, croutons, and a poached egg over salad with tomatoes .   Way too much bacon for me but I wish I knew how their eggs come out so prettily. ( I have tried those new floppy egg cups but long for the old aluminum ones we had as a kid, the ones all connected together.  When you don't use a cup you get "wandering white" which is not the best look.)  

Stay tuned,  I have a few more discoveries to report from this lion of a city.  


  1. Mary, have you tried heating water in a shallow skillet just to a barely, little simmer and adding a dollop of white vinegar to it before you slip the eggs into the water? Also, I crack the eggs into a little custard dish (you know the ones, Pyrex used to make them?) and literally lower the lip of the dish into the water and slip the egg in that way...Julia used to advise lowering the shell into some boiling water for a few seconds to help the white firm just a touch and then she says to lower the cooked egg into some hot water to rinse off the vinegar! Really, I've never tasted any vinegar in my egg. I don't have the patience for all that. After you lower the eggs into the poaching water try just gently pushing the uncooked white over the egg with a spoon. Also, lots of chefs used to advocate trimming the errant white from the egg after it's cooked. I've always done the eggs freeform because I used to hate those little aluminum egg poachers we had at home. Freeform just seems to make for a more tender finished egg. In the picture above, I swear it almost looks like the egg was poached in cheesecloth or something...xoxo to you and him.

  2. Hey Mary, This is so helpful. I really like poached eggs and I don't want to buy a new contraption. I will try all of these tips. I have those little pyrex dishes still from back in the day. It was one of the things we brought with us, believe it or not.
    xxxx, mary m.