As Lyon is very famous for it's unique gastronomy and is labeled the French capital of eating, I could not imagine going there without tasting to what makes it's reputation so strong: bouchons bistros and Lyon's local specialities. For any foodie, going to Lyon is a little like doing a pilgrimage to the Mekka of good taste.
Bouchons are authentic old restaurants (the tradition came from small inns visited by silk workers passing through Lyon in the 17th and 18th century) that can only be found in Lyon and that serve traditional regional dishes such as sausages, duck paté, pork products, soft cheese with herbs ("Cervelle de Canut"), Saint-Marcellin and Saint-Félicien cheeses, tripe products, fried pork fat, beignets ("Bugnes"), offals, cardoon, quenelles dumplings, lemon tart, parline tart and many more.
The Lyonnaise cuisine dating back to the intuitive cooking of those famous robust cooks the "mères lyonnaises (Lyon mothers)" who gave Lyon's cuisine its very special character is simple, rich, homey and tasty.
So, after doing a lot of research on the net and reading many blog or magazine articles on the subject, I decided to try the "Café des Fédérations" which is certified "authentic" by the organisation Les Authentiques Bouchons Lyonnaiss and is one of the oldest bouchons in Lyon and still one of the best.
Having read about this bouchon's convivial atmosphere and the owner's gift of the gab which are so common in this kind of restaurant, we both felt slightly uneasy at the thought of entering it. Anyway, we finally were able to gather enough courage in order to push the door of "Café des Féderations". Upon entering, we immediately got transported into the magical world of bouchons and we were greeted by a very chatty Yves Rivoiron who already made a joke after we had said "Bonjour. Nous avons réservé une table." (Hello. We have booked table) to which he answered in his own teasing way "Are you sure? I am not! Mmmmhhh, let's see if there's a table for you.". Very folkloric and kind of cliché, but so "exotic" and entertaining.
We just had time to install ourselves that we were already served (lentil salad, veal's head in vinaigrette, an assortiment of dried meats with gherkins, bread and a pitcher red Morgon wine and one of water). Then we had to choose our main dish among tête de veau (veal's head), pork cheeks stew, tablier de sapeur (the flat cut of tripe which has been cut into a rectangle and fried), andouillette (chitterling sausage), chicken in vinegar, quenelle, boudin noir (blood sausage), gâteau de foies de volaille (poultry liver cake, prepared with the white livers from the poulet de Bresse).
As I din't want to take the same dish as my boyfriend as I wanted to sample their food, I ordered "Andouillette" which was served in a delicious mustard sauce and accompanied by one of the best creamy "Gratin Dauphinois" I have ever come across out of home. Mr. P. took the gargantuesque "Boudin Noir" dish which was served with an immense pile of cooked apples.
Then, for dessert, we had the choice to take either a sweet speciality (lemon tart, homemade pear ice cream, chocolate mousse or praline tart) or a platter of regional cheeses. As we both were already full, we opted fot the dessert (lemon tart) which was scrumptious.
Needless to say that this meal was fantastic, comforting and scrumptious. We really enjoyed every dish as everything was perfect, tasty and so pleasing. Lunch for 2 was dirt cheap. We paid 50 Euros for a three course menu (appetizer, main dish & dessert) that included wine and coffees. And at the end of the meal, we were litterally exploding as the platings were very generous (We had to roll ourselves through the town for the rest of the day!!!).
If ever you are in Lyon, I strongly recommend you to go there and experience the unique and kitschy atmosphere of that place! It is so popular that the "Café des Fédérations" is full all the time and it is very difficult to find a free table if you haven't booked it in advance (which you'd better do at least 2 days before via phone or fax)...
An experience I am ready to renew anytime we go back to Lyon!