The Alain Ducasse-owned Aux Lyonnais was a wildly uneven experience. While some of our dishes were fantastic, most walked the line between sufficient and bad. It goes without saying that we could have been there on a bad day, or our tastes are different, but that’s how the experience lingers with me. The desserts were the strongest part of the meal, so if you do go, keep that in mind. What I liked most consistently were the cast iron vessels that a lot of the dishes were served in. Homey and pretty and functional – everything stayed hot so well. The restaurant itself was also beautiful, full of a warm fin-de-siecle elegance.
We had an extremely jovial and helpful waiter, who was by no means overbearing. After he asked us if we had any questions about the menu, he probably sensed that there were many, so he offered to go over the entire menu for us. And he did. It seemed like a lot of tourists frequent Aux Lyonnais, so I guess it’s nice that they take care of them without making them feel bad for being tourists.
Coincidentally, my pictures are hit or miss for this meal, so bear that in mind, too.
Cervelle de Canut. Garlic and herb fromage blanc spread. We ate this while looking over the menu, and I couldn’t get enough of of its silky goodness.
I also liked this bag of Bread.
Cocette of Vegetables. Poor Chad. Like just about every other restaurant we went to in Paris, there was no AC, and it was so hot. And because he was sitting at the end of the table, with no leg room because of the table’s legs, he had to sit far away and slouch in to meet the table. Unfortunately, he also met this steaming casserole of vegetables, acting as his own personal steam machine.
But how did they taste? Like cooked vegetables.
Marinated Eel Salad with Beans. I ordered this to be brave, but I didn’t realize the feat it would involve to eat. The eel was so tough that I felt like I would never stop chewing, and the flavor of the marinade (which tasted like a citrus-y vinegar to me) combined with the masticated eel made me nauseous, and ugh, the thought of it still does. The beans (fava, I believe) were starchy. The lettuce good and fresh, though.
Pike Quenelles and Crayfish. I was really looking forward to this, as it’s something of a signature dish. I’ve read others compare it very favorably to a fluffy omelet, but mine were kind of dry and spongy… it had a steamed kind of texture and undertone of flavor. To be sure, it also tasted very fishy, and the creamy crayfish sauce brought it to an even deeper fishiness. But even that felt one-note. It was such a large serving of the same fishy, spongy thing in almost every bite.Â The crayfish were moist and tasty, but didn’t help for variety’s sake.
Breast of Veal. These were striated with layers of fat and meat, and yet somehow, the meat was extremely dry, to the eternal mystification of Chad. When asked about it, or spied chewing for extended periods of time, he’d alternate between exclaiming, “It’s like eating bread!” and “It’s like eating turkey!” But… at least it retained the flavor of veal. And the crisp croutons in the sauce and meltingly tender potatoes were excellent.
Duck was also eaten, which was described as great and almost robustly beefy.
Liver was also eaten and was described as the best the eater had ever had, akin, as it was, to butter.
The Turbot was described as very good.
Cherry Souffle with Cherry Ice Cream. This had kirsch, and the eater enthusiastically compared it to a cloud.
Ile Flottante aux Pralines Roses et Tartes aux Pralines – This was completely wonderful, and one of the best ile flottante that I’ve seen and tasted.Â The tart had a wonderful caramel-forward flavor, almost like a pecan pie. The secret to it all were pink pralines, which are sugar-coated almonds with pink coloring, which add crunch and chew and flavor. It was all very sweet, but the anglaise cut that nicely.Â I found a recipe for the dish here.
Peche Melba a Notre Facon – Wonderfully soft and flavorful peach with raspberry jam and creme chantilly dotted vanilla bean seeds. The very creamy vanilla ice cream on the side felt superfluous, given the perfection in the jar.
Strawberries Beaujolais with Cookies. Described as refreshing.