The traditional cuisine of Lyon (or France?) Is not for people on a diet. Who has money, goes to the Michelin star chefs, who has less budget (and more taste?) can opt for the bouchons. These eateries still serve the rather copious classics of Lyon, mostly meat based. There are about twenty restaurants left who may call themselves bouchon. The rest are mostly tourist substitutes not really following the rules of the game. Since 1997 L’Association de dĂ©fense des bouchons Lyonnais checks the quality of these 22 real bouchons. Not only to monitor but also to support these eateries who are threatened with extinction. Inspectors check constantly whether the chefs still use good and often home-made products, follow the traditional recipes and not succumb to pizza or pasta on their menus. Even better, a bouchon doesnâ€™t need to have a menu: the chef and patron will explain everything at your table, preferably with a theatrical and a loud voice, and in a typical accent Lyonnais.
Take for example Le MusĂ©e, well hidden in the Rue des Forces in the centre of town. Luc Minaire runs this bouchon; small, crammed with wooden tables covered in chequered table cloths, old frescoes on the walls, a huge bar made out of wood and leather and Luc course, owner, semi-clown, storyteller and keeper of traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. Booking is essential here, whether it’s for two or for a larger group. Luc reads the menu of the day with a choice of starters, main courses and desserts. As a vegetarian, you’re ok here: there is a non-meat alternative available. Bravo! The speciality of Luc is le saucisson brioche, a hearty sausage wrapped in velvety soft brioche bread. Classics like Blanquette de veau, Andouillette, croustillant pieds de porc (a bit like chips but then from the pork leg), quenelle (a large and French version of the Italian nocchi a bit soufflĂ©-like and in this case made with fish, served in a rich cream sauce) .. Before desert, Luc takes every evening his guests on tour: right behind the restaurant are the traboules, ancient, secret and narrow streets hidden behind houses and faĂ§ades. In a very energetic French, he tells the story of these alleyways. The price tag of a night Le MusĂ©e is digestible, per person, you pay something around 30 to 35 euro, all inclusive.