Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cafe des Federations, Lyon

As promised in a previous post, more on my last trip from a few months ago to Lyon. Just so you know, I'm not exactly from Lyon. I'm from Valence, a much smaller city 100 kms south of Lyon, which also happens to be the hometown of 2 contemporary great chefs. So for me, Lyon is synonymous of day trips. When I was a kid, we used to drive from Valence (and later from Vienne, home of Fernand Point's La Pyramide) for the day and every time, in addition to visiting the city, we would try a new bouchon (the lyonnaise version of a bistro), which was for me the highlight of the trip. Visiting FNAC, a department store specialized in consumer electronics which at the time had only a presence there and in Paris, was a close second though. Later, I was also lucky enough to spend two fabulous years there in business school and have great meals (while also making lifelong friends) often following the recommendations of Le Petit Paume, a restaurant guide published by students of my school.

However, one restaurant I had heard a lot about from my father but never had a chance to try was Le Cafe des Federations. My father had even offered me an apron bearing the name of the restaurant as well as a pig head as a hint we should go there sometime.

Cafe des Federations was founded in the beginning of the twentieth century and is now owned by Yves Rivoiron. It's the typical Lyonnais Bouchon with its old-style decor, the famous checkered red and white table cloths, a zinc (or counter where you stand to have a drink) and sausages hanging from the ceiling.

Food is pure Lyonnaise with no long, fancy and complicated menu but a 19.5 EUR prix-fixe with an appetizer, an entree (chosen among 9 traditional dishes) and a dessert. And food is quite superb given the very low price (that did not include the pot of refreshing Morgon we had also ordered though).

The appetizers were excellent pig sausages (rosette or saucisson) as well as very good caviar de la croix rousse (lentil salad), named after the Lyon neighborhood where it originated and excellent cabbage/herring salad. Then each of our table's guests had a different entree: the poulet au vinaigre (Chicken with vinegar), the joues de porc bourguignonnes (pork jowl with a red wine sauce), the tete de veau sauce ravigote (calf's head with an herb/capers/shallot/egg veloute sauce) and, for me, a quenelle de brochet sauce nantua (pike quenelle with a creamy crayfish sauce). Every entree was perfectly executed and delicious. As were the desserts (especially the tarte aux pralines roses) and the cervelle de canut (fromage blanc with shallots and fine herbs).

As far as the service, it is quite efficient but the waitresses tend to push the enveloppe in terms of humor, hazing and making fun of the clients. There is nothing mean behind their long-rehearsed retorts, the intent being to create a family atmosphere. But, for some people, I suppose it can be just too much. However, given the bargain offered by the lunch menu I guess it's worth a little pain, isn't it?

Cafe des Federations
8-10 rue Major Martin
69001 Lyon
(33) 04 78 28 26 00

1 comment:

Foodista said...

Great photos! and the food looks great too!