Lyon is France’s second largest city. Just about 300 miles south of Paris, it has a reputation for good food and bouchons—the classic bistro found in Lyon. Its cuisine is typical of the south, considered gastronomic, yet simple and substantial.
Restaurant Lyon—a wonderful recreation of a Lyonnais bouchon—occupies the ground floor of a 5-story, flatiron-like, brick building that forms the triangle of Greenwich Avenue and West 13th Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
As you walk in the entrance on the flat-faced side of the building, there is the bar. There are chairs and tables, bottles, and a collection of French bistro pitchers and vintage décor. Passing through, you enter the café with wood tables and chairs. The café leads to the dining room where leather banquettes line the Greenwich Avenue side.
Penny Bradley and Parisian François Latatie recently realized their dream of bringing a Lyonnais bouchon to New York. Partners, they spent time in Lyon, studying the equivalent of the family bistro. Their research enhanced their appreciation for bouchons. “We found a richness in Lyon,” Penny said.
“There was a restaurant here at this location for fifty years. There is nothing in here that was here before except the glass windows. We came to New York and approached an interior design firm that does restaurants and hotels… We showed them our research; what these little restaurants are all about.
“These are old lights that came from a railway station in London,” Penny explained. She described unique metal shaded steel and brass lamps above tables in the bar, imported French tiles and a custom-made wine cabinet. “There is oak paneling everywhere. The things we have come from my partner Francois’ collection.”
Lyon’s chef Chris Leahy oversees seven cooks and works closely with owner Francois. With top products from farms located nearby, Chris explained, “All the food we do is based off the city of Lyon. It is bouchon cuisine based on classic dishes.
“We are French-inspired but the food is much lighter than traditional French cuisine. It is full of flavor but not cooked in heavy cream and butter. There are braises, sauces, charcuterie with our own sausages… We make everything in-house except the bread.”
Lyon offers a Wine Spectator 2011 Grand Award wine list. They serve full-bodied reds from Cotes de Nuits and Nuits St. George in Burgundy, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and Pommard. A typical bottle runs from $39 to $125 for a 2007 Nicolas Rossignol Volnay. There is Champagne from Dom Ruinart 1998 ($235), and a Lyonnais bubbly for $45.
Owner François recommended a dry French wine, Macon Solutre Pouilly Delice Manoir du Capucine 2009 ($39.) The wine paired well with appetizers and even went well with beef.
Other white wines on the list include Chassagne Montrachet Philippe Colin 2007, $85, Grands Charrons Bouzzereau Mersault 2007, $115.