Comptoir du Vin

Lyon owes a lot of its charming character to its famous bouchons. These are small-scale, intimate restaurants serving mouth-watering French dishes. Comptoir du Vin is no exception. Had I not stumbled across this cosy little gem early on in my year abroad, I would have lost a lot of great gastronomic experiences (and probably a lot of weight too…)

This unpretentious restaurant ticks every box. Firstly, and most importantly, the food is utterly delicious. Just thinking about it makes me drool. Although a limited menu, I can confirm that every dish at Comptoir du Vin will leave you wanting more (yes, I have tried them all). Permanently on their menu for €16 is their classic, juicy steak with a creamy mushroom and peppercorn sauce. Their ‘recommandation du chef’ is usually the ‘boeuf bourguignon’, and let me tell you, this will be the best boeuf bourguignon you will have ever ingested. Their plat du jour (dish of the day) is only €11 and usually entails chicken or fish, and is equally delectable. And, finally, their piece de résistance… The potatoes. Crispy on the outside. Soft on the inside. Oozing with butter and garlic. These potatoes are devilishly moreish and accompany every dish. I’m getting hungry just writing this.

The owner and only chef of Comptoir du Vin is a hilarious extrovert – a proper Lyonnais local. I wouldn’t be surprised to go in and find him sitting in a white vest and beret. He’s often rather tipsy, but this just adds to the convivial ambiance. My one piece of advice? Go before 8pm if you’re going on the weekend, because the French never eat before then so you’re more likely to get a seat. I once had to wait until 11pm to be seated – but, of course, those potatoes were worth the wait…


www.facebook.com/Comptoir-du-Vin-Lyon-4e-1398118760412157/

 

2 Rue Belfort

69004 Lyon

+33 4 78 39 89 95


L’Arbre à Cannelle

We just stumbled across L’Arbre à Cannelle when looking for a place to eat after a trip to the Grande Mosquée. It looked inviting and cosy so we decided to push the boat out and have a proper meal for lunch instead of a sandwich.

A good decision that was. The restaurant seemed to me the definition of unpretentious and real. It was full of French people. Couples out for a Saturday lunch with their baby in the pram, friends meeting for a catch-up over food. The setup was simple – beech wood tables and chairs, whitewashed walls and a colourful mosaic-tiled floor.

The menu was filled with wholesome options that matched the name, ‘The Cinnamon Tree’. They were all a simple mixture of French and mediterranean themes, and if all were as good as ours, I’d happily go again to try something else.

Lily went for the duck confit with mashed potato, which got good feedback. I chose the fish plate, due to a serious lack of Omega 3 in my life at the moment. I was nicely Omega’d up by the end. The smoked mackerel went down a treat as did the generous serving of trout (the sustainable alternative to salmon, I’m told). These were complimented with a salad, sourdough toast, a big spoonful of olive tapenade and a bigger spoonful of homemade taramasalata.

As a taramasalata fanatic, I can safely say that was the best tara I’ve ever tasted. It was creamy, not too pink, and full of flavour. I mopped up every last bit, and might have even closed my eyes for a few of the mouthfuls.

The very French lady in a floppy hat who served us was perhaps the owner. She was nice and smiley, and didn’t make any move to budge us when we were still there on our laptops two hours later and it started to fill up for dinner.

Would definitely recommend.

We spent: €14 each on our meals, €4 each on hot chocolates.


14 Rue Linne, 75005 Paris, France
+33 1 43 31 68 31


Albion

If you like fine French food but not the tourists that often come with it, try Albion Restaurant in Paris’  10th arrondissement.

Not to be confused with The Albion pub in Bristol that might appear or has appeared as part of this guide before, this Albion, a bistro set in the trendy/hipster businessy side of Paris’ 10th arrondissement, is a popular spot for client lunches or occasions ‘en famille’.

This neo-bistrot is not the kind of establishment I frequent regularly as a low paid intern, but a one off perk when an English-speaking colleague ventures out for lunch and invites me along. With a quiet open kitchen at the back of the restaurant, you can eye up the food coming fresh off the pass before the waiter comes your way with an order pad.

When the dishes arrive, you can tell they’re intricately assembled pieces of artwork.  Even the sauce has a certain status about it. Duck is not my usual choice, but today I thought I’d try something different and I was not to be disappointed. My confit de canard was perfectly cooked à point (that’s rare, to us English). The best thing about this entire outing was the dessert and again, not normally a dessert person, I wasn’t going to be the odd one out. Albion’s riz au lait, the French take on rice pudding, has to be one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. The roasted crusted almonds and lightly spooned over salted caramel was the ying to the yang of this not normally savoury delight.  If you want a relaxed take on French fine dining, in a welcoming environment, that also doesn’t scream ‘tourist trap’, then Albion is your place.


www.facebook.com/RestaurantAlbion/

80 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 75010 Paris
01 42 46 02 44


Philou

Philippe Damas is the owner behind this classic and simple restaurant. He is the creative force behind the dishes and also the guy who takes your coat at the door. His presence everywhere in the restaurant for me says ‘independent and personal’ from the moment you cross the threshold.

Philou is a typical French néo-bistro situated behind the banks of the Canal St. Martin, serving an eclectic menu. The restaurant is not at all pretentious, but operates on a strict booking system due to its popularity. So if you want a table, you MUST book.

Scribbled on two enormous, wall-covering blackboards, the menu itself adds to the décor of the interior, whilst conveniently giving every customer an equal eyeful of the starters, mains and desserts. The food is a delicate mix of French fusion in good-sized portions. Depending on your appetite you may want to operate off the two or three course set ‘formule’ (set-menu). My one tip: make sure you have a dessert. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, make sure you have a Philou dessert.

I’d describe the atmosphere in the restaurant as relaxed, made so by the laid-back but elegant Parisian clientele. For your sunnier days in the French capital, the outside terrace is perfect to test out their wine list, with additional windshields making it perfect for chillier times too. In summary, Philou bistro is classic, contemporary and has culinary charisma.


www.restophilou.com/

12 Avenue Richerand
75010 Paris
+33 1 42 38 00 13