France is known for it’s food, and Lyon is posited by some as the Epicurean capital of France. Add a Michelin star (or two, or three) and the experience is bound to be extraordinary. My Lyon hotel, Cour des Loges, happens to have a Michelin-starred restaurant, so it was just a matter of going downstairs for the best dinner I’ve had in a very long time.
Les mères lyonnaises, the mothers of Lyon cuisine, are the early to mid 20th century progenitors of modern Lyon culinary culture. I am sure les mères would be proud of their son Anthony Bonnet, chef at Les Loges.
I sometimes find gastronomy in today’s ultra-competitive environment to be a bit fussy. Not so at Les Loges. Tonight’s meal was elegant, fascinating and incredibly delicious.
I began with marinated shrimp, watercress sauce, and leek on balsam fir sprouts. After thouroughly enjoying the starter, I knew I was onto something special. The main course was matured beef from the Mézenc region, cooked medium rare per the chef’s suggestion, and thinly-sliced. The beef was so tender it almost melted in my mouth, with just enough perfect flavors added to accent the gorgeous taste of this specialty beef. Accompanying were fabulous mashed potatoes with cream and chives, rich oxtail smoked with juniper, and assorted vegetables.
Being a non-drinker, I asked for custom beverage pairings and the bartender concocted some lovely and sensuous creations. A lighter drink with multiple citrus surprises for the shrimp starter, and a deeper combination for the beef - including pear, cream, agave, spices and smoke.
Dessert was another triumph. My choice was listed on the menu as Cacao bean with herb jelly, crystallized celery, and buckwheat. Intrigued, I asked the server to tell me more. She began her description by saying “It’s not chocolate.” Well, it wasn’t and it was. All kinds of chocolate actually, in many forms - solid, ice cream, sauce, foam and biscuit. But there were far more ingredients than just those listed on the menu, which I don’t remember since I was in a such a state of ecstasy enjoying it. Each bit was unique and satisfying, yet it all came together beautifully as well. And speaking of servers, they were a joy. I was very appreciative of their efforts provide such a great experience.
There were many little extras throughout the meal, of course, ending with an eclaire that I was told to start at one end and finish at the other. It was a journey of taste sensations featuring lemon, then hazelnuts, and ending in chocolate.
I would have loved to include pictures of the meal, but any photos I could take would not begin to do justice to the actual presentation. Monsieur Bonnet came out to greet the diners afterwards. A serious-looking and attentive gentleman, Monsieur Bonnet was solicitous of our comments. I will give him the final words of this review. When I remarked about the hard work it takes to make his restaurant such a success, Monsieur Bonnet agreed and added, “It is my passion.”