Lyon in 9 Dishes with Chef Daniel Boulud

La Meunière is one of the best restaurants in Lyon, famed for its take on pâté en croute
La Meunière is one of the best restaurants in Lyon, famed for its take on pâté en croute | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kate Dingwall
9 April 2020

Lyon has long been known as the culinary heart of France. From traditional bistros known locally as bouchons to Michelin-star fine-dining options – French chef and restauranteur Daniel Boulud shares his expert guide to France’s gastronomic capital.

Home to more than 4,000 restaurants, it’s no wonder that for the past 80 years Lyon has been deemed “the world’s gastronomic capital” by chefs and food critics alike. To help you refine your foodie itinerary, Culture Trip asked born-and-bred Lyonnais chef Daniel Boulud to share his favourite food spots in his home city. From sweet praline treats to fish wrapped in puff pastry, these are the dishes to try in Lyon.

‘Loup de mer en croûte feuilletée’ at L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges

Restaurant, French, $$$
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France Rhone Collonges au Mont d'Or Paul Bocuse Restaurant L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges three Michelin stars since 1965
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

For true French gastronomy, chef Boulud recommends a stop at L’Auberge, which he considers to be “a temple for French cuisine”; he’s even dubbed it the “Sistine Chapel of French cooking”. At Paul Bocuse’s iconic restaurant, he recommends the loup de mer en croûte feuilletée, which is a whole fish baked inside puff pastry, meticulously designed to resemble the shape of the fish. Each dish is served in a sauce choron – a béarnaise sauce with tomato. Chef Boulud suggests finishing your meal with oeufs à la neige, a delicate dessert of egg-shaped meringue in a pool of crème anglaise.

‘Mousseline de brochet’ at Mère Brazier

Restaurant, French
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France, Rhone, Lyon, restaurant La Mere Brazier founded in 1921 by Eugenie Brazier, Mathieu Viannay two Michelin stars Chef
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

At Michelin-star Mère Brazier, the mousseline de brochet is chef Mathieu Viannay’s take on the essential Lyonnaise dish of pike quenelle – a classic dish of elegantly shaped fish dumplings in a tomato-based cream sauce. At Mère Brazier, it is served with fingers of lobster meat and a seafood sauce laced with herbaceous local absinthe.

‘L’oreiller’ at La Meunière

Restaurant, French, $$$
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France, Rhone, Lyon, Presqu'Ile, wine pub Bouchon La Meuniere, Olivier Canal, chef, crust pie Belle Meuniere pillow
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

The signature dish at La Meunière is named l’oreiller (pillow) thanks to its shape. It’s a take on a traditional pâté en croute – a dish you will find frequently in the city. Here, the pastry is stuffed with “foie gras, duck heart, chicken and veal,” according to Boulud. The mixture is shaped, and then a blanket of puff pastry is laid over the top. It’s baked until the top has a buttery brown hue. Chef Boulud suggests pairing it with bowls of lentils, celery remoulade and a pickled ox muzzle.

A full tour of Les Halles de Lyon

Market, French, $$$
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© Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse
© Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse

No culinary trip to Lyon would be complete without a stop in the Les Halles de Lyon. In the famed market hall, you’ll find everything from charcuterie stalls and fresh seafood sellers to cheesemongers, all offering snacks for hungry visitors. Chef Boulud recommends starting with oysters for breakfast, and moving on to try sea urchin, tripe, offal, “or even tête de veau (calf’s head), and perhaps a glass of wine.” Then, stop at “La Mère Richard for St-Marcellin cheese; its Fourme d’Ambert, Cantal and Saint-Nectaire from the Auvergne are among the best in the world.” St-Marcellin is a Lyonnaise staple: almost every restaurant in the city serves the small, soft wheels of cheese.

‘Jésu de Lyon’ at Charcuterie Sibilia

Butcher, Charcuterie, French
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Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse Gourmet market Lyon Rhone Alps France
© travelstock44 / Alamy Stock Photo
In Lyon’s famed Les Halles de Lyon, you’ll find Charcuterie Sibilia. “Come here to buy meat,” says Boulud, “particularly the sausages with pistachio and truffle in brioche, and the local minced pork speciality, Jésu de Lyon.” The latter is a classical Lyonnaise dish, and a cousin of the rosette Lyon sausage. It is made using seasoned pork (the rosette uses more common cuts while Jésu uses the meat from the intestines, and a mix of lean and hard fat) ground into sausage meat. It is then left to dry cure for two to six months. It is named after the Baby Jesus, as the wrapped, dried sausage looks similar to a swaddled baby.

Praline tarts at Boulangerie Jocteur

Bakery, French, Pastries, $$$
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Lyon (south-eastern France): 2006/11/14. Cakes and breads in the shop window of the bakery Boulangerie Jocteur in Saint Rambert-l'ile-Barbe. Employe
© Andia / Alamy Stock Photo

Boulangerie Jocteur is a must-visit for Lyon’s famous praline tarts. “Also, for pains au levain,” declares Boulud, referring to the French sourdough loaves. Pralines in Lyon aren’t your average saccharine sweet treat – here, they are blush-coloured and made with almonds, orange blossom, sugar and pink dye. At this bakery in Les Halles de Lyon, expect gooey pralines baked into a perfectly nutty almond flour crust.

Beef tartare at Balthaz’art

Restaurant, French
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This friendly fine-dining spot in the centre of the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood serves one of chef Boulud’s favourite beef tartares, made with diced beef mixed with black olives, capers and candied lemon. Lyon is located in proximity to the rolling hills of the Alps, so expect free-range, locally sourced beef from the region.

‘Sabodet’ at Daniel et Denise

Restaurant, French, $$$
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France Rhone Lyon Restaurant bouchon lyonnais Daniel et Denise from the chef Joseph Viola Meilleur Ouvrier de France (France?s
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

One of Lyon’s most iconic dishes is the sabodet – a rich, fatty sausage made using a pig’s head. Pigs have become an important staple in Lyonnaise cuisine and play a vital role in French farming. In vineyards, pigs are used to prune vineyard vines, and because of that, are often roasted on the vineyards vine trimmings. The pork dish sabodet is cooked using a mixture of fortified wine with the skins and stems of the grapes. Once the cooking is complete, the meat is then wrapped in a casing and served. It’s a no-waste, nose-to-tail process Boulud greatly admires. The version at Daniel & Denise is far more elevated than the provincial fare, served lightly grilled with local vegetables. While you’re seated at Daniel & Denise, chef Boulud recommends rounding out your meal with pâté en croute, and clapton d’agneau, a dish of chilled, shredded lamb’s feet served with a salad. Finish with a classic gras-double à la lyonnaise (a dish of slow-cooked tripe in garlic, white wine and its own fat).

‘Le Président’ cake at Bernachon

Bakery, Pastries, $$$
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France, Rhone, Lyon, chocolaterie Bernachon, preparation of the President cake
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

In 1975, chef Maurice Bernachon created Le Président, a cake to celebrate the admission to the French League of Honor of Paul Bocuse. “It is an incredible ganache dessert topped with shaved chocolate,” says chef Boulud. The cake is now famed in culinary circles the world over, but you can try the original recipe at Bernachon pâtisserie by the Foch metro stop. While you’re there, he recommends also indulging in palets d’or. “They are discs filled with ganache and flecks of real gold,” he says.

These recommendations were updated on April 9, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.