I was expecting Lyon to be ‘food capital of the world‘. Hoped to “meet” the culinary deity Paul Bocuse. After all, his name was all over the city, even Les Halles named after this genius chef, now 88. But I guess disappointment often comes with a clash between reality and expectations. And if your previous destination was Barcelona, it’s not hard to look as grumpy as this guy when your next trip just doesn’t deliver…
I can describe Lyon’s cuisine with one word I’ve just discovered – offal. You either hate it, or you love it. I am not a huge fan, even though I am coming from a country where “tripe soup” is a famous hangover cure.
“Some cultures shy away from offal as food, while others use it as everyday food, or in delicacies.” (Wikipedia)
Anyway, this is not a story about Lyonnese cuisine. It’s about all that’s wrong with Paul Bocuse’s famous Brasserie L’Ouest. It’s one of four (North, South, East, West) brasseries that he inspired for people who cannot afford his Michelin-starred L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges. L’Ouest was supposed to be about modern Lyon cuisine but it turned out to be a fast-food factory. Why?
- 270 seats in a vast joint with an underground parking
- no sea view from the inside, though it’s advertised as “riverfront”
- paper tablecloth
- offer to buy branded gifts such as table cloths
- more expensive than an average touristy Lyon restaurant
- made us wait 20 minutes, though we had a 21:30 reservation
- made us pay for the drinks we had while waiting those 20 minutes
- quite far if you are a tourist (don’t walk there like we did)
- extremely loud (with the occasional happy birthday song for guests performed by staff)
- slow service (did I mention the 270 seats?)
- uncomfortable metal chairs
- there’s TV screens where any company could pay for ads (cars, architects, etc.)
- they had run out of half of the things on their daily menu
But most importantly, nothing too original on the menu. Not even proper offal.
Don’t get me wrong, I am open to new things (tried haggis and black pudding in Scotland, after all) and do love some of the offal. Foie gras is a favourite. Yes, I know it’s inhumane but it’s sooo delicious. Btw, did you know that Bulgaria is the second largest producer after France? I didn’t. Also, apparently there’s a way to produce it without making the animals completely miserable!! Thumbs up, Spain.
P.S. More about the city of Lyon to come in a separate article together with recommendations about great traditional restaurants to visit.