France: Le Bouchon des Filles
You can't go to Lyon without going through the traditional bouchon experience. Tip for all you bouchon noobs, there's actually a list of certified "authentic" bouchons. You can distinguish between the real thing and the posers by looking for a sticker of the marionette Gnafron. Google it.
Another tip...reservations are a good idea.
And one more tip (just because I'm nice that way): the "authentic" bouchons are usually closed on weekends.
So of course our one full day in Lyon fell on a Sunday. Guh. Wish someone gave us tips before we planned the Lyon segment of our trip.
The first thing I did that morning after I woke up was to scour the Internet for a good non-certified bouchon. Le Bouchon des Filles came up more than once. Apparently the two owners used to work at Café des Fédérations, which IS a certified bouchon. Close enough for me.
I was a little worried about getting reservations so last minute, but I did it easily online through what I guess is the French version of OpenTable, LaFourchette.
I booked the earliest table possible, which turned out to be right when the restaurant opened:
Others had the same idea we did:
For those of you who have never dined at a bouchon, here's my final tip for you. Start early. Trust me. If you don't, you could end up still eating dinner way past your bedtime.
While we were still perusing the menu, we were brought a bowl of fried pork rind:
I fell immediately in love with Le Bouchon des Filles. I didn't care if we ate nothing else that night. Wow.
The menu at Le Bouchon des Filles consists of one prix fixe option. For 25 €, you get salad, a main of your choice, cheese of your choice, and a dessert of your choice. After we ordered our mains, we were brought a parade of heaping salads to be shared family style.
The first was a lentil salad with spicy chorizo:
The second was some kind of vegetable (unimportant) with loads of smoked fish (way important):
As if that wasn't enough, there was a third green salad with little quenelle (creamed fish) bites:
(I don't know why Blogger insists on making this photo vertical, but it wasn't intended to be. Sorry about that.)
Of course there was a basket of bread too:
We basically were full from the salads alone. And the mains hadn't even made an appearance yet.
With the salads cleared away, we were expecting our mains the next time our server came to our table. Wrong. Instead, we each got this tiny glass of...milky soup?:
No idea what it was. Our server said something in French, but we totally didn't catch it. Sorry. It was savory and kind of...corn-y. Maybe. I could have been imagining things.
Finally, our mains arrived. There were seven mains to choose from. Two required an additional 3 €. No, thank you. Out of the remaining five, we couldn't really decipher the menu, so we chose four somewhat randomly. Here's what we ended up with.
The aile de raie (wing of a ray) with sauce vierge (extra virgin olive oil) and purée de pomme de terre et brocolis (puree of potato and broccoli):
Yea. We had no idea we were ordering ray. In fact, I didn't find out until I Googled it just now. It was quite delicious, but not nearly as memorable as the veggie puree. That, my friends, was amazing. I also love how they shortened "pomme de terre" to "pdt" on the menu. So cute!
We also ordered the joues de porc en sucré/salé (sweet and savory pork cheeks) with carottes poêlées (pan fried carrots):
The pork tasted really Asian to me and thus a bit less impressive. It felt like something my mom could make at home. Don't get me wrong. It was still tasty.
The quenelle de brochet (pike) was the only no brainer of the bunch:
Lyon is famous for its quenelle, which are made of creamed fish or other meat. This particular one was made with pike, which is quintessentially Lyonnaise. It came with a creamy sauce crustacés et écrevisses (shellfish and crayfish sauce) and a pretty cheese cracker art piece. Fishy, creamy, and just all around yummy. T enjoyed the cracker the most.
We picked the croustille de boudin aux pommes with no idea what we were going to get:
It turned out to be a flaky pastry topped with a salade d'herbe and stuffed with blood sausage and apple:
Definitely an interesting flavor combo.
After we finished with all of our mains, we were asked what cheese we wanted. Our server rattled off a bunch of cheeses in French and then took pity on us and repeated them again in English. Even with the cheese options translated, we couldn't decide. We asked for a bit of each.
Our server brought us two plates with five cheeses on them:
We're obviously not a very cultured bunch. None of us could stand the stronger cheeses. Instead, we demolished the brie and picked at the rest because we felt guilty for wasting them.
On top of the cheese platter, we also got a bowl of garlic cheese that had more of a yogurt consistency:
And a sweet cheese that was meant to be sprinkled with sugar:
We might have gone a bit overboard with the sugar.
Just when we thought that we were going to expire from all of the food, our server brought us the dessert menu, which was seven desserts long. It was difficult, but we managed to soldier on.
The coupe de glace framboise (glass of raspberry ice cream) with fruits rouge (berries), meringue, and chantilly de chocolat blanc (white chocolate whipped cream) looked super good on the table next to us, so we had to get one:
By far my favorite dessert of the night.
We also chose the moelleux au chocolat (chocolate fondant cake) with glace caramel au sel de Guérande (salted caramel ice cream):
Hello my little molten lava cake:
Their tart of the day happened to be pear:
And finally, we decided to try the soufflé glacé à la chartreuse verte:
It certainly looked innocuous enough. Until you get close enough to smell the alcohol. Or should I say paint thinner. We quickly learned that chartreuse is a French liquor and a really strong one at that. Strong enough to make hair grow on your chest. The soufflé glacé or frozen mousse was fragrant and pleasant until the third or fourth bite when the taste of chartreuse starts to accumulate on your tongue. Oh, boy. We kind of gave up on that particular dessert after a while.
Our entire meal lasted almost three hours. THREE HOURS. It was almost painful at times, waiting for the next course to come. We barbaric Americans quickly wolfed down each course while the French around us slowly wined and dined.
That's not quite true either. Perhaps the French are just used to the wait? The elderly French couple at the table next to us looked thoroughly bored. The wife alternated between flipping through a magazine and thumbing through her iPhone. Meanwhile, her husband sat there, folding the paper table mat accordion-style.
After dessert, we were asked whether we wanted coffee or tea. We declined both and asked for the bill. By then, we just wanted to get out of there. We knew we had an early morning the next day and we really just wanted to head home, pack, and get whatever sleep we could.
Though not a certified "authentic" bouchon, Le Bouchon des Filles serves up some fantastic fare. The atmosphere is comfortable, the service genuine, and the price reasonable.
As the gastronomical capital of France, everyone who goes to Lyon should eat at a bouchon. It would be a crime not to. Just make sure you block out a good of three hours of your night. At the very least.
Oh, and make sure to walk in hungry. Really, really hungry.
Le Bouchon des Filles
20 Rue Sergent Blandan
69001 Lyon, France
04 78 30 40 44