Four decades ago, Alain Ducasse began his culinary journey at the pavillon landais restaurant in Soustons in Southwest France. Today, the influence of this Michelin-starred chef spans three continents, seven countries and 2,000 collaborators.
The traditional Lyonnais bistro or bouchons has been given a contemporary makeover at Alain Ducasse’s Aux Lyonnais.
“Without challenging the traditional taste combinations, we wanted to update the regional Lyonnaise cuisine so that more people could know and enjoy it,” says executive chef Yann Mastantuono.
Coq au vin a restaurant Aux Lyonnais © Pierre Monetta
Take sabodet, a cooked sausage based on the meat from a pig’s head. Instead of being cut into thick slices and hidden in a strongly flavoured salad, it is gently poached in broth, finely sliced and heaped with fine slivers of potato perfumed with a light gribiche sauce. The freerange chicken is perfectly roasted and garnished with mushrooms, tomatoes and onions to retain moisture and bring flavour.
LYONNAIS_Planche de charcuterie lyonnaise (JP) (c)Pierre Monetta
Upstairs, wood panelling, patterned ceilings and 19th century light fixtures and metro tiles create an intimate ambience. Ceramics by the renowned Jean-Claude Novaro are dotted about. Bevelled mirrors reflect busy waiters deftly moving between tables which are charmingly bedecked in mismatched silverware and balloon wine glasses.
The iconic red wood façade of Aux Lyonnais dates back to 1890, and Ducasse has worked his magic here since 2002 photo © Pierre Monetta
Chief sommelier Gérard Margeon has stocked the cellar at Aux Lyonnais with a generously varied wine list – from Burgundy to the Rhône Valley and through the Lyonnais region. All were handpicked by Margeon, who has evidently travelled from Lyon to Dijon via Bugey, the north of the Rhône Valley, and Bordeaux. Try Cerdon, a rare rosé, or the Côte-Rôtie, served by the glass or in a crystal carafe. Or, the sommelier can direct drinkers to daily selections.
Chef Alain Ducasse Copyright Pierre Monetta
The Mediterranean remains among Ducasse’s most cherished terroirs. Now, the celebrated chef has taken up another residence inside the iconic Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, the long-time site of his Le Louis XV restaurant which first propelled him to stardom. He joins chef Patrick Laine in honouring the produce, traditions and recipes of the Mediterranean in restaurant Ômer, a play on the words ‘au mer’.
Situated on the garden floor of the Rotonde wing of the luxurious Hôtel de Paris, Ômer is like a culinary tour of the Mediterranean in all its diversity. The restaurant’s interiors – lightly coloured leather, brushed bronze and wood – are fashioned to resemble a ship’s interior.
Restaurant Omer - Cercle du vin (c) Pierre Monetta
Diverse dishes grace the menu – from Turkish dolmas and Lebanese falafels, to Greek marinated sardines, and signature dishes such as caramelised Tentaculaire squid, lentils, beets and cabbage, or M’Rouzia candied lamb with rice and spiced dates. All reflect the colours of the Mediterranean: squid ink black, harissa red, yoghurt white. Accompanying the cacophony of colour is a flurry of appealing aromas. Pungent garlic and chilli punctuate vegetable dishes, and aromatic herbs (think marjoram, coriander and mint) and spices such as cumin, cardamom and ras el hanout bring continuous pleasure to the palate.
Wine lovers are well sated at Ômer. A softly lit Wine Circle presents a selection of more than 1,000 bottles (essentials from Burgundy, the Rhône Valley and Bordeaux), and even rare crus from the Aegean Sea or the slopes of Mount Bargylus.