Lyon: Experiencing a Bouchon (Daniel et Denise)

I have fallen in love with Lyon. Notably it is the gastronomic capital of France, and its renown cuisine is built upon many occurrences in history: the Medici family brought cooks that focused on creating regional French cuisine, the migration of incredible women cooks from home to restaurants in the 18th century which created dining institutions known as “bouchons” (in French it means “cork in a bottle”), and many famous chefs were created here including Paul Bocuse – the world’s most influential chef of our time. Yeah, they are serious about their food here.

One of my fondest experiences in Lyon was dining at bouchons. Bouchons are casual bistros that serve traditional Lyonnaise food (think dishes centered around offal, beaujulois wine, potatoes with cream). These restaurants hang corks or bushes of straw above doorways to signify that a hot meal can be found here.

Warning: When you’re in Lyon, you will see a number of restaurants that call themselves “bouchons” though they are not necessarily the true traditional bouchon. Aside from the red-and-white checked tablecloths and wooden tables, be on the lookout for those that are official with the badge (see below). You can also find a list of them here.

I did some research and made a reservation to Daniel et Denise at the original location about a month prior to the trip. My planning paid off Рit was one of the best meals I had during my Lyon stay. The entire meal was spectacularly delicious and memorable Рfrom the warm and inviting waitstaff willing that explains each dish in detail to the delectable award-winning foie gras and sweetbread p̢t̩ appetizer that are set at each table.

We decided to order à la carte, though many tables beside us ordered their set menus. Their set menus also offer a great tasting of traditional Lyonnaise dishes so it’s definitely worth getting as well – they start at €33.

The foie gras and sweetbread p̢t̩ in a pastry case (World Champion 2009) was delightful and showcases how good this place was. The foie gras and sweetbread p̢t̩ had a lot of different textures Рmeaty to gelatinous. Combined with the solid crust that encased it, the dish was a beautiful harmony of various textures and flavors. The onion jam was my jam, packing an incredible sweetness from carefully caramelized onions that works wonderfully with the pastry. No wonder this was a world champion dish.

Since we ordered from the daily specials menu, I wasn’t able to capture what specifically we ate. What I will say is that it was really good – it came warm, covered in jus made from red wine, and was a well-balanced savory meaty dish. This dish brought me to the French countryside, and made me feel like I was getting a big welcoming hug.

We ordered a veal topped with tomato and covered in jus. This was a beautiful umami bomb of flavor, and I attribute the roasted tomato on top for that. We also ordered the grilled pork chop with peas, carrots and pickled onions was cooked perfectly, with a light pink on the inside.

While the mains were very good, what left an impression on me were the sides (they come with every main dish). They had lyonnaise potatoes (sliced potatoes cooked in duck fat), carrots cooked in butter and penne covered in bechamel cream. Everything was heavy, but everything was phenomenal. To this day I cannot stop thinking about how delicious the carrots were, and has created a new standard of sides for me.

Their baba au rhum was no joke – it was large, and the waiter came by to douse the baba with rum. It tasted alcoholic given how well the baba soaked up the rum.

This was my first taste of Lyon, and I am so glad it was here. Incredible and without a doubt, I am highly recommending this place to anyone that goes to Lyon.

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