Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gastronomy in Paris: Aux Lyonaisse

We decided to keep to Bistro and Brasserie food this Paris trip...forgoing the high priced restaurants and Michelin starred meals. But we did take a particular look at secondary restaurants owned as part of the same chain of Michelin starred ones. Today's feature is Aux Lyonnaise, a restaurant owned by Alain Ducase.

Jumping straight into conclusion...was it good? Of course it was. It was fantastic. Did it meet all expectations...well, I am a bit ambivalent on this one...I loved most of the dishes, but was disappointed with one. So read on!

I read about Aux Lyonnaise from web reports and reviews...many glowing. I had arrived in Paris on a Thursday for a week, and decided to just send them an email asking for possibility of a table...half expecting not getting any reply. But I was pleasantly surprised they offered me a Tuesday lunch. We got there bright and great anticipation. Was empty when we arrived...the dining room was soon to be filled with diverse business people from Allianz just across the street and the stock brokers from the Paris Bourse a short walk away.

Service was very attentive...English spoken fluently, and while the Formula Dejeneur (French for set lunch) is in French only, the waiter translated very well. Kin and I had the Formula (€32), and Edward opted to try the vegetarian cookpot.

Our sets came complete with appetizer, main, and dessert. But first, a shared amuse bouche

This was a sour concoction, perhaps with eggs. I didn't really like the dip, though the bread was excellent with some butter. It grew on Kin and Edward...but we did not finish the bowl. By that time the restaurant was filling up, and we saw most of the other patrons wiped their bowl clean...must be a French thing.

Kin's appetizer was their Green lentils salad, ham and soft boiled egg

Very good. The egg was perfectly cooked. Slightly runny inside, but firm enough on the outside to hold the near liquid contents. The lentils were superb...cooked almost till, but not quite to the level where the individual lentils disintegrate like some Indian lentil dishes. In this case, the lentils were slightly crunchy, beautiful aroma. The taste of the braising liquid was very nice.

I had the charcuterie...interesting French institution, this charcuterie...

Came as sliced salami/ham...very fat as evidenced by the white marbling. A jar of pickled cucumbers standby to help cut the fat. The ham was very nice...but I found the flavour of the pork to be very strong...a tad overpowering. The accompanying pot of baked potato with mustard was very nice.

As we were in France, we also opted for a carafe of red table pours...inexpensive to drink, especially in France. We had a carafe of Vintage 2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape from Moulin de Tacussel. 46cl at €42.

We also usually order the carafe eau...or tap water instead of mineral water.

On to the mains...first Edward's Cookpot of potato and black truffle

Quite an interesting dish...and even more interesting Edward chose it. The truffles were rather generous for a €27 dish. And the potato is done like a gratin. Beautifully cooked...potatos firm, yet yielding and a bit flaky. Very aromatic truffles. The pot was so large, he did not manage to finish it, even after sharing with us.

Kin had the boiled free range chicken and winter vegetables

Interesting pot. I found the chicken to be a bit strongly flavoured. I was lucky I didn't order this dish...not my taste. The soup which came with was a bit mild, and light. Kin was ok with her choice. She enjoyed it, nevertheless. The chicken was lean, tender. I guess this is where the saying a chicken must taste like chicken comes in...and for me it was a bit heavy chicken flavour...for others this may be perfect.

I am extremely pleased with my order...Roasted pork belly, stewed potato and carrots.

For me superb. The best pork belly I have eaten. The porky taste was present, but subtle, perhaps it was well seasoned. The pork was roasted till a crisp outer skin is developed, and I imagined braised...but I don't know how they retain the crisp skin. Perhaps it was braised and finished on a griddle to produce the crisp. Truly magnificent. My only wish was that it was a bit leaner, though that would rob the flavour, and um...if I had 2 slices...

Needless to say, the vegetables were perfectly cooked, and were very fresh.

Dessert time next...Kin had the dried plums and Rasteau wine with fresh cream

The prunes (plums are generic...prunes are made by drying a specific plum) are wonderful. The wine sauce a perfect foil and accompaniment. And the fresh cream provided mouth feel and body. Love this dessert...simple but very effective.

My dessert was even simpler...fresh cottage cheese...

Sprinkled generously with caster sugar, it was truly very good. On its own, it was a bit bland...the cheese flavour was very mild and light. But the sugar picked and complimented the fat in the cheese, elevating it to something worthy. Very nice.

Having jumped the conclusion, you now already know what my thoughts are. I would still heartily recommend this restaurant for all those who are visiting Paris. It was one of the most enjoyable meals I had in this trip. And was remarkable for the quality of ingredients, the level of cooking, and the great service. Highly recommended.

Aux Lyonnaise
32 rue Saint-Marc
75002 Paris, France

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