Review: Brasserie Georges, Lyon France

With the currency exchange rate the way it currently (ha!) is, travelling around Europe has been quite significantly more expensive than we originally budgeted. Budgeting for 1 Euro to $1.38 AUD doesn’t work when the current exchange rate means we’re averaging $1.60 AUD to the Euro. It means that we’ve had to save money where we can, which means doing a lot more cooking in our Airbnb apartments using market produce rather than eating out as often as we would have liked. Still, it’s important to treat yourself every now and again in order to expose yourself to new food and cultures, and so K and I went to Brasserie Georges for lunch, a restaurant steeped in the history of Lyon since its first opening in 1836.

Popular for both business lunches and leisurely ‘ladies who lunch’ meals, we were surprisingly the only ones in the restaurant who clearly looked like they weren’t locals. Brasserie Georges is definitely still a local favourite that hasn’t yet been discovered by other tourists. While you can order a la carte, most people seemed to opt for either one of the two set menus available – a Menu Lyonnais ($27.50 Euro for four courses – entree, main, cheese and dessert) or the Menu Confluence ($22.50 for three courses – entree, main, dessert). K and I decided to split the odds and ordered one of each.

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I was getting a bit peckish by the point we sat down to lunch although it was still only 1pm which is comparably early by French dining standards! The complimentary basket of fresh bread rolls definitely helped to take the edge off my hunger, though I’ll never get used to the fact that it’s not normal practice to offer butter with the complimentary bread. Instead, you’re not supposed to eat the bread until the end of your meal, as you use it to sop up any sauce left on the plate.

Poireaux Vinaigrette, Gelee de Joue de Boeuf aux Condiments
Poireaux Vinaigrette, Gelee de Joue de Boeuf aux Condiments

K’s entree as part of the Menu Lyonnais was Leeks with Jellied Beef Cheeks…which doesn’t sound quite as exciting in English as it does in in French! As a cold entree, it wasn’t a bad dish. I particularly liked the baby leeks which were a lot softer and milder than the giant old leeks that we tend to get in Australia. The buttery herbed sauce was particularly good when sopped up with the bread rolls.

Oeuf Poche et Champignons, Creme au Lard et Croutons
Oeuf Poche et Champignons, Creme au Lard et Croutons

My entree as part of the Menu Confluence was almost like a deconstructed breakfast dish, of a poached egg with a crispy fried piece of bacon and crispy toast on top. Sitting on a base of mushrooms and creamy hollandaise-esque sauce and chives, the runny-yolked egg was simply delicious. The hollandaise sauce was a tad on the salty side, but all the elements still worked really well together.

Saucisson Pistache a la Maconnaise, Pommes de Terre Ecrasees a la Fourchette
Saucisson Pistache a la Maconnaise, Pommes de Terre Ecrasees a la Fourchette

K’s main meal was pistachio and pork sausages in the Mâcon style.  Mâcon is a town located only an hour north of Lyon, so this is very much a local dish to the region. I found the sausage particularly porky and meaty, like it had used some less common parts of the pig that are more strongly flavoured. I really liked the potatoes though – they were more like smashed potatoes than mashed potatoes as they still had quite a bit of texture to them. Liberally dressed with salt and butter, they were highly more-ish.

Escalope de Saumon Soufflee a la Dieppoise
Escalope de Saumon Soufflee a la Dieppoise

I enjoyed my salmon fillet served with creamed spinach. While the salmon was probably cooked for longer than I personally prefer (I prefer my salmon rare), the crumbly salmon meat meant that it actually worked particularly well with the cream of the spinach. The little fried puff pastry on the side was a strange addition – I imagine it’s to help soak up some of the sauce, but honestly the bread rolls were much better for that.

Le Fromage de Tradition
Le Fromage de Tradition

K’s set meal came with a generous serving of cheese chosen by the restaurant. On the day, it turned out to be a particularly strong hard vintage, not dissimilar to an Old Amsterdam. It was a really generous serving, especially given the intensity of flavour which made it hard to eat too much of it in one setting. Still, we managed.

Feuillantin au Chocolat Pur Caraibes
Feuillantin au Chocolat Pur Caraibes

K’s dessert was a chocolate feillantin came out as a real work of art – magnificently glossy and topped with crumbed praline and biscuit. The sweet dark chocolate mousse inside combined with the many layers of praline and chocolate made for a dessert of many different textures, one that I happily ate more of than K!

Ile Flottante aux Pralines Roses de St Genix
Ile Flottante aux Pralines Roses de St Genix

My floating island dessert was as pretty as a picture with a soft meringue topped with the colourful candied pralines that you find in that part of France. Sat in a pool of tinted cream, the meringue simply melted on the tongue as though it was made of no more than air.

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Brasserie Georges serves up traditional Lyonnaise fare that really hits the spot. It’s simple, hearty home cooking, the way French cooking used to be before it became over-fancified in hatted silver-spoon restuarants. It comes with a price tag, with the $20+ euro set lunch menus about double the price of the usual prix fixe lunches of other restaurants in the centre of Lyon. If you’re looking for a genuine Lyon experience away from tourists though, you can’t go wrong with Brasserie Georges!

Brasserie Georges is located at 30 Cours de Verdun Perrache, Lyon, France.

Chanoy Honeymoon: Paris, September 2015

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

I don’t think I have enough superlatives in my vocabulary to describe Paris. It’s everything that all the books and movies make it out to be – the city of love, the city of lights. Every street you walk down in this city absolutely teems with history and culture, and can be quite overwhelming to the senses. How do you even react to the colossal and elaborately decorative structures built over 500 years ago when they surround you on all sides?

Some days, we ended up taking refuge in some of the smaller neighbourhoods of Paris, to give our senses a break from the overwhelming palaces and formal buildings. Taking time to wander through quainter and smaller neighbourhoods like Le Marais on our DIY Picnic Lunch day meant ducking our heads into smaller boutiques and smelling baguettes fresh out of the oven in boulangeries – and that I think, is what makes the quintessential Parisian experience.

We stayed in a very old tiny sixth-floor Airbnb studio apartment in the north of the city near the metro station Barbes-Rochechouart, a highly multicultural part of the city. While it was a little bit further out, it meant that our stay seemed to be that little bit more of a genuine Parisian experience – having to hike up six floors on a rickety wooden spiral staircase that’s been worn away in parts through decades of use, smelling the fragrant aromas of home cooking with each floor that you passed. That’s not something you get when staying in a sterile hotel room in the centre of town.

So, how did we spend our days in Paris?

One day was spent in Disneyland Paris – K and I absolutely love theme parks and try to visit the best ones on most of our holidays. Unfortunately Disneyland Paris was a little bit disappointing as a few areas of the park were closed on the day that we visited. Some of my favourite old-school rides such as ‘It’s A Small World’ were closed, as well as the roller-coaster ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril’. It didn’t feel quite like a true Disneyland experience without some time spent with the creepy singing animatronic figures of ‘It’s A Small World’. For the record, I’d also recommend purchasing your park tickets online rather than at the door – you can save up to $20 Euro per person!

We spent another full day at the Louvre Museum. I’d visited once before when I’d gone to Paris for a few days with my friend Maren, but I’d somehow forgotten about the sheer scope of the museum and its works. Suffice to say that if you’re in any way mildly interested in art, one day is not enough to take in even half of what the museum has to offer. K and I have promised each other to plan a future trip to Paris in years to come, with at least a week dedicated to museums alone…after all, we didn’t even get the chance to go to the Musee d’Orsay or the L’Orangerie.

Other days were spent simply wandering around the different neighbourhoods. The day we spent picnicking and in Le Marais as I mentioned, as well as the day we spent dining at Laduree and wandering around the Champs-Elysees and the Tuileries. We had a fancy meal at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon one day as well, and did the typical night-time jaunt up the illuminated Eiffel Tower.

The thing about Paris is that you always leave feeling as though you haven’t done everything you could do. There’s a million museums we didn’t visit and a number of neighbourhoods we didn’t walk through. There’s restaurants we didn’t visit, and we certainly didn’t spend enough time just sitting at a street-side cafe with a hot drink for hours, just watching the world go by. And honestly, can you really say that eating a baguette a day is sufficient? I certainly didn’t eat enough pastries, tarts, cakes, brioche, cheese, pate…there’s a whole food world in Paris which we barely skimmed the surface of.

Paris, I love you. Farewell for now, but not forever.