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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.