“There is absolutely no substitute for the best. Good food cannot be made of inferior ingredients masked with high flavor. It is true thrift to use the best ingredients available and to waste nothing.” – James Beard
La Table 101, in Lyon, is a bit more formal, chic and sophisticated than Daniel et Denise but, on our visit, we were immediately made to feel completely at home. The chef is Olivier Delbergues. His wife, Maryline, manages the front with elegance and panache. All of the staff seemed as if their entire evening’s goal was to make us feel comfortable and well-tended… and our waiter’s command of English was much better than our attempt at French.
We were shown to a table next to a window, in their glassed-in terrace, that looked out onto a pleasant neighborhood park, adding immeasurably to the ambiance of our evening. The restaurant roof can be retracted in warm weather so that you can enjoy a kind of partial al fresco dining experience. Spring evenings in Lyon were cool when we were there so having the roof in place was a good thing.
After being seated, we were automatically given the English menu and our choice of still or sparkling water and an aperitif. The setting at La Table 101 is quite elegant and it also had logo-embroidered napkins. We were starting to think this is a pretty cool touch!
We ordered a tasting menu – Menu Plaisir – which gave choices for the Entrée, Plat, and Cheese or Dessert courses. The bill (without wine) for each of us came to €88.00.
After we had ordered dinner, I selected Domain Tortochot 2012 Gevrey-Chambertin from an extensive wine list. The wine was a deep, dark red and tasted of hints of black cherries and currents, and was well balanced with a lingering, spicy finish. We thought it would be a great choice to go with the dinner we had ordered and were not mistaken. It was a reasonable €68.00.
Our meal began with a beautiful Amuse Bouche of Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Beet-infused Cream.
For our entrée, we ordered Pan Sautéed Foie Gras with baked Granny Smith apples and Hibiscus Juice and an Onion Confit Tart. Both dishes were beautifully plated and incredibly delicious. The foie gras dish had two of the largest slabs of foie gras that I have ever seen on a restaurant plate. They were perfectly sautéed. The acid of the apple mingled with the richness of the foie gras as each bite melted in your mouth. The Tart was a buttery pastry topped with rich, bubbling onions and crispy pork belly bits flavored with truffles, all sprinkled with melted Emmental Cheese. Amazing!
We were totally blown away by our Plats which arrived next. My wife ordered Stacked Scallops with Chiogga Beets, Horseradish, and Jerusalem Artichokes. It is tricky to have scallops perfectly cooked. These were. The presentation was equally impressive.
I selected Pigeon with Mild Spices, Candied Red Onions, Wild Mushrooms, Pan Juice and Chickpeas. The combination of textures, flavors, and colors made this a memorable dish.
For dessert, my wife ordered a Warm Soufflé of Chartreuse Liquor and Chocolate. It had to be ordered when placing our dinner order since it takes a bit longer to cook. It was worth it! Light, fluffy and beautifully delicious. Wow!
My dessert was Caramel Mousse cloaked in Chocolate, with a Crisp Wafer and Ice Cream Caramel. With the combination of chocolate and caramel, I took a chance on it being a little too sweet. However, the bittersweet chocolate flavor nicely balanced the creamy caramel mousse and caramel ice cream was a cool and refreshing bonus.
Daniel et Denise and La Table 101 had different menus and different approaches to the preparation of La Cuisine Lyonnaise; nevertheless, in many ways, they were very similar. Each chef demanded the freshest and best ingredients available. Our food was perfectly cooked with obvious respect and care for the ingredients and appreciation for the farmer, the fisherman or the rancher that played their own important role. Finally, both dinners were artfully served in an interesting and beautiful manner that represented each chef’s skill and personality.