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Paul Bocuse

October 17th, 2008 · No Comments

Paul Bocuse
Open daily all year round
lunch : noon to 1.30pm
dinner : 8.00pm to 9.30pm
L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges – 40 Rue de la Plage – 69660 Collonges au Mont d’Or
Tél. : (33) 04 72 42 90 90
Fax : (33) 04 72 27 85 8
Cost: Really really expensive
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An eating odyssey of 4 hours at this instution of french haute cuisine with 3 Michelin stars for 42 years and counting. You know the chef takes pride in his place when Chef Bocuse along with his team greets you at the door. In fact, Chef Bocuse is so concerned about the welfare of his patrons that he even showed one of us the way to the bathroom. This is a superstar chef without the attitude.  I think that his wife even comes around to ask how diners are doing.  In fact, we later learned that the chef and his wife actually live above the restaurant – that’s dedication.

Where to start – I don’t think we have ever eaten so many truffles, morels or cream – ever.  We tried the grand touriste menu which encompasses all his famous dishes including his black truffle soup (dish invented in 1979) which literally is filled with generous slices of truffles, foie gras as well as perfectly cubed beef and vegetables in a clear broth – in a soup tureen that has been specifically created for this dish.  Of course we started with a gougere – I wonder if it is a standard at all french restaurants. The amuse bouche was a creamy quenelle (local lyonnais dish) in a pool of vichysoisse. The foie gras was perfectly seared on the outside and creamy and pink on the inside.  This was followed by the sole with pasta with a perfectly browned cream sauce. The beaujolais granita with cassis syrup was the perfect palate cleanser served in paul bocuse testavins.

Then followed the bresse blue chicken which comes to the table presented in the bag it was steamed and then is artfully carved by the staff. At first I thought the dark patches on the skin were markers for the bresse blue chicken but it turns out that they are truffles placed under the skin to flavour the chicken. The chicken pieces are then literally showered in a morel cream sauce filled with too many morels to count.  Vegetables do not play a big part at Bocuse and the chicken dish was the only dish with any amount of vegetables which were to my tastes a bit overcooked but likely done perfectly for french cuisine – what can I say – I like my veggies crisp.

The service was impeccable working like a well-oiled machine. Many dishes were also served with a show – for instance rather than pick your dessert off a list – there are tables – yes tables of dessert brought out for your perusal to make 1, 2 or even 3 choices if you want.  The cheese selection is also overwhelming – a large platter full of fragrant, mouldy and furry cheeses – hmmmm….delicious. This is folowed by the small tower of petit fours including macarons, meringues, chocolates and jellies, to name a few.

As our stomachs filled and our blood turned a lighter pinki color from all the delicious fat we ingested, conversation levels slowed at hour 3. But we rallied at the sight of the desserts and managed to try (between 3 of us), the raspberry tart with fresh rasperries/sauce/vanilla ice cream, rhum cake (a local lyonnais specialty) with vanilla ice cream, fresh berries floating in a sweetened concoction of beaujolais and cinnamon, which was delicious.

Outside murals are dedicated to eminent chefs of French cuisine in France and around the world.  The decor is old world extravagant inside and a riot of colors on the outside. You can’t miss the restaurant with Paul Bocuse lit up in larger than life letters above brightly painted murals.  The busboys are all dressed in white tuxes with dark suits for the rest of the staff – that is of course except for the red-capped and suited parking attendant/door attendant. When a special occasion is being celebrated, this attendant was also the old-fashioned music box player (i.e. he cranked the handle), conspicuously he was the only non-white staff we saw.

As you leave the restaurant, look down at the list of all the Bocuse D’Or winners engraved at the entrance with many open spaces for future winners to come.

Overall, Paul Bocuses’ eponymous restaurant is the pinnacle of french haute cuisine. If you can afford to go and are in the area, it is an institution to visit. That being said, the meal put us over the top in its richness and I am not sure we could or would go back.

Set menus range from 125 E, 165E and 200 Euros with a la carte also available. (But with the a la carte truffle soup at 80 Euros by itself – the set menu is likely the better deal).

Tags: France · French · Michelin starred · Special Occasion

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