The five must-see corks in the culinary capital of France, Lyon

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True foodies know that Lyon, not Paris, is where it is when it comes to fine dining in France. Home of famous chef Paul Bocuse, Lyon is surrounded by the best raw materials in France, giving way to exceptional markets and restaurants.

But the real reason Lyon is considered the gastronomic capital of France is because it has something that no other city in the world has. Plugs.

Lyonnaise tart from the Café des Fédérations. Photo: Sofia Levin



Bouchon, which means “cork” in English but also refers to the straw that silk merchants used to clean their horses, is a unique Lyon bistro. Like many French gastronomic traditions, what constitutes a cork is subject to debate, and there is not one, but two accreditation bodies that have the power to classify a cork as authentic. But even if a cork does not pass the authenticity test, most will still offer a classic Lyon experience.

Here’s what to look for: Menus are almost always fixed, and for somewhere between € 20 and € 30, you’ll get four generous courses of traditional Lyon cuisine including shared entrees, cheese, and dessert. Wine costs extra and is often limited to wine regions bordering Lyon (Beaujolais or Côtes du Rhône). Butcher paper on red and white checkered tablecloths and napkins is common (as is the color red in general). Having a good time is mandatory.

Here are five to try.

Café des Federations

Arguably one of Lyon’s most famous corks, Café des Feds (as the locals call it) is a must-see. Start with classics such as Caviar de la Croix-Rousse (lentil salad) and sliced ​​tongue or snout, and finish with the hot pink praline pie for dessert, but get going. This place can get noisy at night and you’ll need to take full advantage of the wine list if you want to keep up.

Daniel & Denise

With three branches in town, you’re never too far from a Daniel & Denise. The chef, who is not called Daniel or Denise but Joseph Viola, is Meilleur Ouvrier de France, having received the title of artisan in 2004. It is more refined than most. Here you’ll find dishes like pie and chicken with morels, accompanied by a macaroni gratin and sautéed potatoes. You can order a la carte, although it can be expensive. A potentially high bill is saved by sensational wine prices – choose something local and you’re looking for around € 5 (around A $ 7.50) a decanter.

The Girls’ Cap

As the name suggests, this cap is held by girls. While many caps are held by women, the angle here is that the dishes are meant to be lighter. A thick andouillette served with gently boiled potatoes and a fresh tomato sauce; the blood sausage is coated with tangy apples in a crispy filo pastry.

La Meunière

While the only sign of red here is burgundy in your glass, the menu is as authentic as any in town, with classic fare including the pike quenelle (pike dumpling in a creamy crayfish sauce) , the heavy Lyonnaise salad (a Caesar on steroids) and veal cooked in port and mustard. The cheese can be cottage cheese seasoned with herbs, shallots and vinegar, and for dessert, crème caramel is difficult to pass.

Our house

This lamp-lit stopper in World Heritage-listed Vieux-Lyon is heavy on the charm of yesteryear. Thick red curtains drape large windows, small plates of scratchings (pieces of pork, like soft scratchings) in red ceramic dishes are arranged on red tables. Ideal for an intimate evening, the menu will cost you around € 28. To start, keep it simple with the Rosette de Lyon (dried sausage arranged in a rosette, with pickles) – take it to the next level with beef cheek or simmered tripe for the main course.


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