My list of “Things to Do in Lyon” was:
2. Eat at a bouchon.
What can I say? My ambitions for a city considered to be the “food capital of the world” were simple.
For the uninitiated, a bouchon is a restaurant that specializes in traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. Think heavily meat-centric, fatty, and often involving some kind of internal organ. It’s usually decked out with red and white checked tablecloths, and the atmosphere is cheerful and sociable. There won’t be any stuffy penguin-like waiters around, but a chat with the owner of the bouchon is likely, since they’re mostly family-owned.
Historically, bouchons developed in small inns in order to provide meals to the silk workers that passed constantly through the city in the 17th and 18th century. A picture of a bunch of “twisted straw” or “bouchon,” was typically used to designate the restaurants as such.
We had lunch on the terrasse of 2 different bouchons, located directly across from each other on the Place Neuve Saint Jean.
1. Le Gourmand de Saint Jean: 4 Place Neuve Saint-Jean
Every bouchon has a Menu Lyonnais, especially in the Old Town, where Le Gourmand de Saint Jean is located. A little touristy, yes. But well worth it for the chance to try a number of traditional dishes at a reasonable price. Agri and I took full advantage of this by selecting different items for each course.
I immediately knocked 2 items off my “must-eat” list, by ordering the Salade Lyonnaise (essentially some greens, poached eggs, and a whole lot of bacon), and the pike quenelle. At Le Gourmand de Saint Jean, it was soaked in lobster sauce and served with rice. Verdict? Delicious.
Price: Menu Lyonnais: 17 euro, including appetizer, entree and dessert
2. Le Comptoir du Boeuf: 3 Place Neuve Saint-Jean
Located just around the corner of Rue du Boeuf (yeah, it’s a real street name), it specializes in, yup, you guessed it. Beef.
Agri had the Menu Lyonnais, mostly because I wanted him to order some innards of some kind, because when in Lyon, someone has to eat organs. And it wasn’t going to be me. Fortunately, he likes eating intestines, hearts, livers and all manner of absolutely disgusting things. 😉
Price: Menu Lyonnais, 17 euro
I chose the Menu Comptoir Dégustation, not because of the steaks, but because of the escargots, which turned out to be just as divine as expected. For my personal preferences, the meat was a bit dry and tough, but still tasty, with the flavour of charcoal cooked in.
In retrospect, I think it would’ve been smarter to order the escargots a la carte, and get the cheaper Menu Lyonnais, since there were plenty of entrees on that menu that would’ve made me very happy.
Price: Menu Comptoir Dégustation, 29 euro
How do I find a bouchon?
There are 22 restaurants that have been awarded the “Les Bouchons Lyonnais certification,” by the Les Bouchons Lyonnais Association, based on factors such as the quality of products, cuisine, welcome, ambiance and respect for Lyon’s history and heritage.
In reality though, there are dozens and dozens of restaurants all over the city that call themselves bouchons, certified or not. And while I’m no expert, I’d venture a guess that the good people of Lyon don’t care much about whether a particular place has been designated as an “official” bouchon or not. 😉
In other words, don’t let that stop you from walking into any place that looks promising to have a meal. That’s exactly what we did and we were anything but disappointed.
Have you been to Lyon? Eaten at a bouchon? Would you be all over the internal organs? Tell us all about your meal in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
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Not one for earing internal organs or much meat, my French hubby has tried almost all offerbgs and would be very envious of you reading this post. The food in France is divine, particularly the smaller non tourisy places with their own specialties and of course the simplest….from the market ~ baguette, cheese and fruit.
Most of the world seems to be quite comfortable eating organs it seems. It’s just us North Americans, with our prettily packaged meats that have the most issues…we are so disconnected from the reality for better or for worse. But yes, the food in France is divine, and I dream about doing a bike tour through the country, stopping at little inns along the way to refresh myself with delightful food… one day I hope… 🙂
I’m salivating reading this post and looking at the photos… for all the time I’ve spent in France, I’ve never been to Lyon! (except the airport, but that definitely doesn’t count). Going to have to make it there on a future trip!!
I’ve only been to Paris before this trip, and love it (of course), but I really fell in love with the Alsace region. It was so liveable, with the best parts of Germany and France combined. I could really have spent a lot of time in that area! Which parts are your favourite?
As for Lyon…well the food is just out of this world, so yes you definitely have to make a future trip!!
You know I like you when I continue reading past that sentence with all the fatty meats and organs! But I also have to out myself as an occasionally lame vegetarian because my favorite salad on earth is une salad Lyonnaise! I do try to pick out the lardons, but they add such a nice flavor … and the egg cracked all over the greens and the crouton … yum! Great little post (and I mean that ‘little’ in the nicest way.)
Lol…I like myself better when I read past that sentence too. Yuck. I’ve never been able to get past the psychological stress of eating organs (though I must admit when I’ve accidentally had them, some of them haven’t been half bad). Agri on the other hand, loves all of it, and even seeks them out. Probably comes from growing up in Albania/Italy.
The salade Lyonnaise was quite delicious, so I’m not surprised it’s the one that makes you a lame vegetarian. Haha Something about the combo of runny eggs and bacon. Yum!! 🙂
I really am not a fan of eating internal organs, and that is coming from a family who likes eating all of that. From chicken feet to pig’s liver to intestines…my Chinese Malaysian family don’t really think twice about serving that up for occasions like reunion dinners or some celebratory meal. From what you describe, Agri sounds like the kind who would feel very comfortable at a organ-eating kind of competition 😀
I don’t mind escargot, and I think it is the tamest kind of disgusting food. I do prefer them fried, though, and less sauce because I prefer my dishes dry. Haha, sometimes you could actually order everything on the appetizer menu and have an entire meal from that set! But pity they are usually quite pricey.
They love to eat all manner of internal organs in Korea too… pigs feet, bbq intestines…you name it, and Agri is usually all over it. I can’t do any of it. I guess I’m too North American that way! But I do love some good escargot, but prefer them the way the French make them, with some nice, crusty bread to dip in the sauce. Yum! I’m drooling thinking about it. 🙂 How are you with frogs legs? I had some fried in Thailand once, and I must admit that once I got over the thought of what I was eating, they were really quite tasty…
No, I cannot do frog legs. As much as I like fried stuff, I do not think I can stomach frog’s legs at all, lol…