I arrived in Lyon last night and am sad to say that I only spent one night there. After all, it is the gastronomical capital of the world. My plan was to try as much food as I possibly could, but that did not go according to plan. Today is a French national holiday and so I missed my opportunity to go to a bouchon. You see bouchons only exist in Lyon because they only serve Lyonnaise food and who knows if I get this chance ever again. To no avail, I could not find an open bouchon to try out. There is always next year I suppose.
Last night, I took up the recommendation of my host and went to Café 203. She said it stays open until 2 am and serves a variety of different cuisines, including French. Why would I go anywhere else in that case? Once I got to the charming little place, I was instantaneously shocked by the amount of people crowded outside just to have a little bit of Café 203. I thought, okay, this place oughta be good.
I picked out a seat next to the two girlfriends enjoying a charcuterie board at a four top. I asked if I could join their table and they were so welcoming. They even shared some of their bread, chorizo, and tapenade with me. I only had the bread with tapenade, and it was way better than what I remember it tasting like back in America. It tasted fresher, sweeter, more delightful.
Once I got the menu, I got perplexed quick. One of the women recommended the duck, but I wasn’t sure I was feeling the duck even though it’s a thing in Lyon. Everything was so darn elaborate and described in French. I had a lot of Google translating to do, but I did it! And I was still confused… I was between the chicken and the beef tartare. Thankfully, there was a group of three friends sitting at a table nearby. One of them said, “Chicken is traditional. Go with something different,” and so I went with the beef tartare.
Once it arrived, the presentation was beautiful even with fries on the plate. You know when you have something really really really great once and then if you have something really good, you can no longer say it’s great? Well that’s what happened with the tartare. I’m convinced that the years of eating my mom’s tartare spoiled all the other great tartare out there for me. This one was made to taste sweet instead of salty. I couldn’t fully make the adjustment.
Seeing that I’m eating alone, the three friends invited me over to their table. We talked a lot about our cultural similarities, differences, and about a bunch of other things. Most of all, we had a wonderful time. We laughed and joked a lot and I really appreciated the company. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that Europeans are way more approachable in comparison to my peers in America. I never thought that I would see anyone drink espresso and wine at the same time, but I guess that that’s just how they go about things here. Interesting.
Last thing I’d like to mention is how unobtrusive European service is… You don’t get asked how your food is. You don’t get asked if you’d like another. You just get the check. If you have an issue, you can wave someone down.
I woke up early today, around 5:30 am, due to mosquitoes attacking me in my sleep. I went about exploring the town, which was completely empty. Lyon is beautiful and the Rhone River is a bluish green hue. Lots of hills. Lots of walking. Lots of very friendly people. I just wish I had more time to eat at a bouchon.