Aux Lyonnais, Paris 2

Aux Lyonnais is a Lyonnais bouchon, smack in the center of Paris. In 2002 Alain Ducasse took it over, and since last summer there has been a new cheffe. Lunch yesterday was very pleasant.

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For those who don’t know already… this is truly a ‘cleansed’ version of a bouchon carte, almost to the point that if you changed the name, you might not realize. It may very well be thoroughly delicious, but it’s pretty much a different animal altogether.

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Well it’s another Ducasserie — can be very good, but in no way could it ever be called a “bouchon”. It always has to be a streamlined, cleansed, gentrified version of an original genre. However successful it is in its formula.

There used to be a few bouchons in Paris (Moissonnier, Chez Fred…), all gone now or changed their menus. As a great French chef says, “Ducasse doesn’t sell you a thing, he sells you the idea of it.”

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Yes, it’s a somewhat Disneyfied version of a real bouchon, but for many, myself included, the real thing would not be as desirable.

I’m reminded of when Richard Olney remarked to me that he had been asked to write a cookbook with recipes from Maxim’s in it heyday, and he turned it down because no one c/would eat that food any more.

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I agree. For my part, if I never have blanquette de veau again, I’ll be ok with that.

Except to say that there are many bouchons in Lyon, and there is something to say for Pride of Place. I would jump at the chance to order the classic bouchon staples not easily found elsewhere.

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Hi Steve - I will actually be in Lyon end of February. Do you have any recommendations for bouchons there? Thanks for any insight!

[Daniel et Denise is one of the few remaining original bouchons and is reliable. I particularly like this, its original location.

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I’ve never ordered blanquette in a bouchon. Always offal.

Indeed — and I think it’s because of your recommendation that we enjoyed that original location as well! We would happily return.

But it is on the menu à saison at Danielle et Denise, so if that is an authentic bouchon, one cannot claim that the dish is not authentic bouchon food.

To be honest, the blanquette that I had at Aux Lyonnais was the first I can remember having had, although there probably is some time in the distant past when I have had the dish before.

I’m always struck by how similar bouchons in Lyon have become. I used to like them because of the offal-heavy menus but now most menus seem almost identikit and predictable. The differences among most of them seem so insignificant that it’s impossible to choose a favourite. If these things sway you, the latest winner of the best bouchon in Lyon prize awarded by the Association de Défense des Bouchons Lyonnais was A Ma Vigne.

Lefooding.com also did a very useful rundown of bouchons (oops, can’t find the English version so use google translate).

As a Parisian, I see nothing quintessentially lyonnais about blanquette de veau. It’s a standard and very popular bistro dish throughout France, especially Paris. I have seen it on one or two lyonnais bouchon menus but hardly typical.

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There’s nothing specifically lyonnais about blanquette de veau. It is an all-French preparation of the cuisine bourgeoise répertoire, and the roots point to the Ile-de-France and Parisian cooking more distinctly than to any other place. The best is made at home (at mine for instance).

Of course there are plenty of bouchons left in Lyon, just stay at a distance from le Vieux Lyon to avoid repetitive tourist fare (and even then you might be positively surprised). They’re all over the place — Bellecour and Cordeliers (La Mère Léa, Baratte, Brunet, Le Garet, etc.), around Foch (Le Bouchon Sully, Chez les Garçons…), Part-Dieu and Brotteaux (Daniel et Denise, Le Café du Peintre — you’ll thank me for this one), and many more. The trick to remember is that it doesn’t have to have “bouchon” written on it and that many addresses are not heavily advertised by the locals, who’d rather keep quiet about them. Everything in Lyon requires searching and the looks are sometimes deceitful.

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That’s Richard Olney’s opinion. Other food writers could have had a different one. Says one who has spent her lifetime working on chefs’ books with four-page recipes nobody would ever attempt making at home, and nobody seemed to mind. In the light of that, Maxim’s classic slightly-elevated bourgeois cuisine sounds like a weak offender.

I’m still confused about your suggestion of the ubiquity of blanquette de veau at bouchons. I wonder if you might be thinking of tete de veau, often presented in a “white” gravy, and indeed a staple at working class restaurants.

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Anne, It’s been a few years, but we enjoyed LeLaurencin (where I discovered eggs meurette) and Aux Trois Cochons, where I stumbled unknowing on a fantastic Saladier Lyonnais (lentilles aux échalotes, museau de bœuf, pied de veau rémoulade), and a very large tablier de sapeur that was a bit too much for me.

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So much to explore! Thanks for all these great ideas. separately, we made a reservation for one night at La Sommeliere and look forward to that. So for our other meal we will have some choosing to do from all of these suggestions.

There’s blanquette de veau in bouchons just like there can be rôti de porc, rosbeef-purée and roasted chicken. Because they’re classic French dishes. There’s nothing specifically lyonnais about blanquette.

Tête de veau might be more typically lyonnais insofar as it’s an offal dish that is much loved in Lyon and is part of the canut répertoire. Roughing it up, there are two main sources in Lyonnais cooking — the very offal-oriented canut style and the bourgeoise style introduced by home cooks from Auvergne. Only the first one is originally from Lyon, the cuisine bourgeoise source is Auvergnat but flourished in Lyon.

However, wherever in France (above the Languedoc line) you’re lucky enough to be served family, traditional dishes, you’ll find that tête de veau is an extremely frequent occurrence. That is the case from Wallonie to Bordeaux, with the Loire Valley and Berry being well-represented. Sometimes the tête de veau is served in large chunks with the vegetables and the sauce on the side, sometimes cut into small pieces in a tortue or Madeira sauce. Tête de veau is a rather overlooked rural French cult.

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