Thursday, April 11, 2013

L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges (***), Paul Bocuse

L' Auberge du Pont de Collonges, the restaurant of the world famous chef Paul Bocuse is located in Collonges au Mont d'Or, a few kilometers near Lyon and is open all year long for lunch and dinner. Paul Bocuse now age 87 is still in the restaurant and every lunch or dinner he puts on his chef hat and greets his guests. The cooking is now in the hands of many MOFs in the restaurant making the same classical dishes, like the VGE truffle soup from 1975.

Bocuse apprenticed to Fernand Point, a master of classic french cuisine, and then became an ambassador of the nouvelle cuisine, a lighter and simpler form of the first. The restaurant holds 3 Michelin stars from 1965. There are 3 menus to choose from. The menu classique with starter, main course, cheese and desserts. The menu Bourgeois with starter, fish, meat , cheese and desserts and the menu Grande Tradition, which is served only to the whole table and combines many of his signature dishes like the truffle soup, the fillet of sole a la Fernand Point or the Bresse chicken cooked in a bladder. Then there is the a la carte option. The wine list, more like a big book, is extensive, with many rare wines, and some suggestions by glass.

The decoration of the restaurant is eccentric, with the green and red painted exterior and the style of the interior. Inside there are tables in many different rooms. I liked how they were not close to each others, and how comfortable the chairs were, essential if you are about to spend many hours. They also need much space to move the trolleys  between the tables for presenting and carving the food, or the cheese cart and the big selection of the desserts. 

At first we were given bread and butter and an amuse bouche. The bread was a small baguette, which had good flavor but was very dry and hard, butter was not anything special. The amuse bouche was a pea veloute with truffle served cold and an airy delicious hot gougere. The velute had very impressive flavour intensity, simple and perfect. 

The one starter was a vegetable soup. The waiter brought a big tureen with the soup to the table and then served it hot in to the plate. The soup was excellent based on the ingredients, potato, carrots, leek and I think, on a big quantity of olive oil and butter. My starter was a lobster salad a la francaise. It was a whole lobster from Maine served cold on the plate with lobster sauce, sitting on diced potatoes and peas in mayonnaise. It was a very generous portion, the lobster got out of his tail and claws untouched in perfect shape. If I should note something, I would like the meat a little bit more juicy. 

My main course was turbot with champagne sauce. It was a thick fillet of excellent quality fish, firm and white, nicely seasoned on top of the salty but tasty sauce. A memorable plate and without doubt the best of the meal. I took a glass of wine, Les Tourelles de Longueville 2007 from Bordeaux was good but not anything special, accompany the turbot.  The other main course was red mullet dressed in crusty potato scales. I couldn't resist to take a few bites. Although I expected something more from the taste of the fish, the croustillant potatoes were a nice touch and the sauce was very very good. 

Between the fish course and the meat course, there was a beaujolais raspberry sorbet to refresh the palette. Next came the pigeon in puff pastry with cabbage. This was half a pigeon, the breast, the leg inside the puff pastry with the cabbage, some morels with intense taste and a pate of the inners of the bird. The sauce was again very good and worked well with the gamey flavor of the pigeon.

The cheese cart was next, with a selection of matured and fresh cheeses from la Mere Richard. All cheeses were in excellent condition. I chose Comte, goat cheese, Reblochon and Fourme d'Ambert.
The predessert was a very rich chocolate mousse, and some mignardises (the green pistachio thing was awesome). 

And then the dessert, Delicacies and Temptations, as described on the menu. As it was in the past, the whole selection of the desserts is presented so that you can choose whatever and as much as you would like. There were , black forest macaronsparis brests, floating island, seasonal fruits, icecream, creme brulee. tarts, the Bernachon chocolate cake. I chose a baba au rhum with custard on top, with vanilla icecream, and a piece of the gateau president Maurice Bernachon with raspberries. The baba was perfect, and the chocolate gateau was pretty good too. 

The service was very good, professional and very fast from the time of booking until the end of the meal. This restaurant for me is clearly a 3 Michelin star establishment. It is not just the food, it is the whole experience. Every ingredient that is used is fresh and top notch, the executions are very good. You won't expect much innovation here, but a look in the past, with the same dishes prepared for decades. It may be the ''nouvelle cuisine'' which is supposed to be lighter and simpler, but with today's standards it is still heavy, with many sauces and much butter. It is a matter of preferences.  

As Mr.Bocuse quotes from Vincent Van Gong ''Comme il est difficile d'etre simple''..



Related Posts:
Le Louis XV, Monaco (3 Michelin stars)
Le jules verne, Paris (1 Michelin star)
Spondi, Athens (2 Michelin stars)
Ledoyen, Paris (3 Michelin stars)
Laduree, macarons


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

La Mère Brazier (**)

Eugenie Brazier started this establishment in 1921 with only fifteen couverts at the time and soon transformed the place to a gastronomical destination. She gained her 3 michelin stars in 1933 and retained them for many years. 

The restaurant reopened in 2008 by Mathieu Viannay(MOF)  who is currently the owner and the head chef. The restaurant now seats up to 70 people and has 2 Michelin stars. There are many options to choose from in lunch or dinner. Starting, available only for lunch, with the dejeuner option for main course and starter or dessert, but with only 3 euros extra, you can have starter, main course and dessert. There is also the Menu de saison with starter-main-dessert, the Menu classique, which revisits the classics of Eugenie Brazier's cuisine, like the artichoke and foie gras, and combines two or three courses, cheese and dessert. Then there is the Menu degustation, and the a la carte option.

The restaurant is in a small street a few minutes walk from the Opera of Lyon. There is parking available with a cost. The decoration is modern, comfortable and of very good taste. You can see the connection with the past of the establishment as it has been renovated smartly enough to do so. On the other hand the dishes were too modern and like a piece of art, you can judge from the pictures below.

We chose the full lunch menu with starter main course and dessert, and the menu de saison. To start they offered us some nibbles, fried pastry with olives and a paprika dip. It had good taste, but it was heavy, especially for a start. A piece of bread was then given to each accompanied by two types of butter, salted and red pepper. The bread was very good with nice crust and many aromas, the butter was also very good. The amuse bouche was an asparagus creme, with foam and a crouton. This had a nice texture and very good taste. I wanted a glass of wine, the sommelier was very helpful and proposed me the Domaine des Remizieres Cuvee Christophe Crozes-Hermitage 2010 from the northern Rhone region, which was exceptional. It was full bodied, it had many fruity aromas and little metallic taste.  

The starter of the dejeuner Menu was a salmon tartare with finely sliced radish, pink as well. The salmon was of great quality, great taste and presentation. The starter of the menu de saison was octopus confit with black radish, pink radish and very finely chopped green apple. The combination was quite odd, and  didn't really worked. The octopus had good quality and flavor, it was fresh but a bit hard to chew, not at all near as good as you can get in many restaurants in Greece. 

The main course of the dejeuner menu was a dorade fillet with a potato cylinder filled with spinach, and other two made of leek. The fish although was fresh and juicy, had a bit bland taste. The potato cylinder on the other hand was really good with intense potato flavor. The other main course  fera fillet with multicolor vegetables and soy sauce was nicely cooked and had very good taste. It was accompanied by an excellent sweet potato creme puree, with smoked flavor. The puree was really really good. 

A very good madeleine with white cheese icecream was the predessert. Some mignardises were a macaron, a nougat chocolate piece, a bite-size tarte praline(typical lyonnais) and a small sphere with caramel interior. All were very good. And finally the desserts. The chocolate tarte with pineapple, even thought every element of it was done well, the result was not what we expected. It seemed uninspiring. The other dessert was a cube of Jiavara chocolate, with a chocolate sphere inside full of liquid passion fruit and topped with chocolate icecream and a gold leaf. A very good dessert. 

The service was very good, very very helpful, always with a smile on the face, but it seemed they need more staff for the capacity of the restaurant. The food had many ups and downs, missing the wow factor in the biggest part of the meal, but overall I think this is a restaurant that is worth visiting or revisiting. The price is lower than you would expect at this level, so the value for money is very good.