Monday, May 30, 2005

Paul Bocuse: A Love Story Between the Man and Himself

Our second hall of fame restaurant after Lameloise was Paul Bocuse's place, located in Lyon by the Saone River:


Paul Bocuse's is fun and colorful on the outside. The restaurant's interior is very regal and spacious, making the restaurant feel less warm than Lameloise. The restaurant itself was cold for me temperature-wise, but my pashmina and our wine warmed me up over the course of the evening.

Bocuse's infatuation with himself became quickly evident to us. The exterior of the building includes a larger than life mural of the chef and every piece of china is emblazoned with his name. Near the restroom, there is a photo of Paul with other chefs that is a very unsubtle reference to the last supper painting.

Early in the evening, we noted that the only black member of the restaurant's staff was the doorman, who was also the only member of the restaurant wearing a little red get-up. Later, towards the end of the evening, the staff brought a chocolate birthday cake to a woman seated near us. As the cake was presented, the black staff member came in to turn an organ grinder. It was awful -- I was totally flabbergasted. I feel awful even repeating what image the scene reminded me of (ends with a "key"). Overall, the food was more impressive than Lameloise's, but this incident really spoiled a lot of its tastiness for me.


I don't have much to say, good or bad, about the service. When my brother-in-law ordered Johnny Walker black for his aperitif, he was told that it was fine for him to order red as well. This was obviously insulting, but I'll give the staff the benefit of the doubt and choke their comment up to some language awkwardness.


The amuse-bouche was a creamy cream of pea soup with a single gougere (a cheesy cream puff). It was excellent. I ordered a la carte:

Foie gras de canard maison en gelée au Sauternes Antonin Carême

Cassolette de homard à l'Armoricaine

Cheese Course

Pruneaux à la cannelle et au beaujolais

The creamy lobster stew main course was incredible -- it was very rich, but the restaurant served the right (a small) portion to be pleasurable but to not finish you off for the evening (the cheese course tends to take this role for me, even though I always manage to plow through dessert).

A pre-dessert dessert (a small creme brulee) and the typical plate of pre-dessert sweets (nougat, chocolates, meringue, etc.) were served to us. Then, a dessert cart appeared from which we could select as many desserts as we desired. Since I was so stuffed, I only had the beaujolais-soaked prunes, but could have chosen chocolate cake, a fruit tart, eggs in snow, baba au rhum, amongst many other items.

I went home happy and full, but also bewildered by the restaurant's birthday tradition. Of the three *** places we tried, I'd put Bocuse in last place, partly because of this incident and partly because the colder atmosphere which doesn't suit me well.

Oh, Celine, I need our wine selection from you!


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