One thing Jess and I don’t get to do as parents is go out for fancy meals, so we decided to binge while in Lyon sans the little one. The city is known for its food, after all, and is home to sixteen different Michelin starred restaurants. As I’ve said in the past, I’m not averse to spending money – these restaurants obviously weren’t cheap, so we definitely ate into our savings from the flights a bit. I personally thought the experiences were well worth it so thought I’d share some of our experiences. Both restaurants were about a twenty minute walk from our hotel, par for the course in our hotel experience.
La Mere Brazier (2 stars, Lunch)
I’ve decided to go in order of quality instead of chronologically. I was pretty blown away by our culinary experience at La Mere Brazier, a two star restaurant under the care of head chef Mathieu Viannay. The restaurant was housed in what felt like an old residence, instead of one large dining room it more felt like separate dining areas in different rooms of a house. Our particular room consisted of four tables though there were some (private?) rooms with only one table each.
We both ordered the seasonal menu – I got a three course meal with appetizer and dessert while Jess opted only for the dessert add on to her entree. One of the things about fine dining overseas is that sometimes you have no idea what you’re eating – menus are in French and sometimes things get lost in translation. I find a lot of times that works to my advantage as a picky eater, since I am spending so much money I just make myself “try everything” – and in some cases ignorance is bliss! Plus my palate isn’t distinguished enough to figure out what I’m eating anyway.
Case in point, I ordered the Pate en Croute as my appetizer not really knowing what I was ordering (though I guess Jess knew). It was chicken pate with foie gras in a pie crust – we saw loaves of these things being made at some of the local stores. Anyway pate is generally too rich for my tastes and foie gras even more so, so while the appetizer was pretty good I wasn’t able to finish it. This would be the first and only plate I sent back with food still on it.
For entree I ordered the suggestion du moment which was steak with root vegetables. Everything was cooked perfectly. It was a bit of a safe choice but I figured I’d already gone adventurous (for me) with the pate. The root vegetables were extremely well done – didn’t even have to force myself to finish them haha. I think this would be a good time to note that the presentation of all the dishes was very impressive.
Jess ordered a fall-vegetable adorned deer dish with black trumpets (trumpets of DEATH). She said it was very well done and the deer wasn’t gamey at all.
Before the dessert course, I decided to order a cheese plate, mainly so I could choose from this bad boy:
Cheese is cheese and all three were amazing. Before dessert even came, we were given petit fours which were among the most impressive I’ve ever had.
For dessert we had a Paris-Brest, which I guess is this thing – with hazelnut ice cream and caramelized hazelnuts.
We also had a caramelized apple dish with quince and vanilla sorbet. Also very tasty.
Finally, when everything was done, they brought out one more sweets cart for us to grab some caramels and marshmallows from, and then it was all over.
The meal ended up clocking in at around three hours. The service was great throughout until the very end, when it felt like we were abandoned for like fifteen minutes while waiting for our check. Not totally sure if I missed something culturally or whatever but that was a little weird. Up until that point though the servers were Johnny on the spot for all of our needs. Oh, and the chef came out to say hi at the end, which was a nice touch.
Overall, I was very impressed with La Mere Brazier. It was clearly a few notches above La Remanence (the one star restaurant below). The food and presentation were amazing; the service was great up until the end. It also clocked in at less than a hundred US dollars per person at lunch, which is great value for the experience in my opinion (if you enjoy fine dining of course).
La Remanence (1 star, Dinner)
La Remanence was our first meal of the trip and it was good in its on right. The restaurant just recently earned its one star and is an up and comer. To me, it’s just not as impressive as La Mere Brazier. That extra star makes a big difference I guess! (At least in this case). I’d say the one thing that stood out about La Remanence over La Mere Brazier was their homemade ice cream – each flavor that we tried with our desserts was really special. Anyway, here are some quick highlights of our meal.
I couldn’t tell you what was in the amuse bouche, but what I can tell you is that I ate them all and Jess wasn’t a fan.
We ordered a tasting menu that covered the entire table. The most impressive course was the first one, a scallop cooked in its shell with some kind of foam (which would end up being a theme). It was really good.
After that it was foie gras, which we both finished (a rarity), so that’s a testament to how well done it was.
My second favorite dish was the grilled filet of Rouget Barbet. A lot of foam though, again.
I honestly cannot remember much about the next course, which was veal.
After an unmemorable cheese dish, we finished up with two desserts, a roasted fig and a chocolate cake type thing. Like I said before, it was the ice cream that was really special – a hazelnut almond flavored ice cream and a vanilla with a hint of alcohol.
All in all, La Remanence was a nice meal but not as special as La Mere Brazier. Since they were around the same price, if I had to only go to one I’d definitely lean towards La Mere Brazier.
Like I said at the top, this isn’t a food blog, so take everything I said here with a grain of salt. We went to Lyon to eat well and these two restaurants did not disappoint. I realize fine dining isn’t for everyone, but if it is and if these restaurants are any indication, Lyon’s not a bad place to do it.
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