At last, the most anticipated dining experience lived up to the hype and went above and beyond my expectations.
Within the culinary world, the French chef Paul Bocuse could be considered a god and the chef of the century. Sadly he passed away earlier this year at the age of 91 but his culinary contributions will live on forever. He was one of the most prominent chefs associated with nouvelle cuisine stressing the importance of fresh high quality ingredients. He’s also the founder of Bocuse d’Or, a biennial world chef championship or culinary “olympics” that takes place in Lyon. Winning the Bocuse d’Or could be considered the most prestigious award in the gastronomic world.
Chef Paul Bocuse’s legendary restaurant, L’Auberge de Pont de Collonges in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or outside of Lyon, France, has held three Michelin stars since 1965 which is beyond impressive to say the least. When I arrived at the restaurant, I was giddy with excitement as I had dreams of dining at this iconic establishment.
My mother and father, gourmands themselves, came to Lyon to only dine at chef Paul Bocuse’s acclaimed restaurant back in 1984. 34 years later, Tommaso and I are thrilled to be here!
We were one of the first people to be seated for dinner and this was only one part of the dining room. A lavish and opulent dining room that perfectly suits the restaurant and cuisine.
The menu is considered traditional yet extravagant Lyonnaise and French cuisine so you won’t find any modern techniques or dishes here. L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges offers three tasting menus or the à la carte menu. It was hard to choose what menu to do since different signature dishes are on different menus. The grand tasting menu is meant for the whole table while the other two tasting menus (classique and bourgeois) could be ordered individually. Since we wanted to try as many dishes as possible, we did one classique tasting menu and one bourgeois tasting menu.
L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges isn’t the restaurant where you want to fill up on bread and butter since the food is so rich. They only offer simple baguette type rolls.
A vibrant pea flavored soup, slightly chilled, with a silky mint cream on top.
Perfectly cooked whole lobster with a creamy dressing and the most delicious potato salad underneath the lobster tail.
The foie gras parfait was creamy, rich, and luxurious. The duck meat dodine, basically a pâté, was expertly made and I loved the addition of the pistachios. Served with a quenelle of fruit jam, this was scrumptious in every way.
Red mullet, a type of mild white fish, had beautiful crispy potato scales that added crunch and a nice saltiness. This orange butter was superb, the French really know how to make impeccable sauces, and I licked every drop of this additive sauce.
Almost as a palate cleanser, this sorbet was refreshing with just a touch of that tannic quality from the Beaujolais wine. There was a little bit of cassis underneath that added sweetness.
The most supple pigeon I’ve ever tasted cooked perfectly with a pink hue. The meat melted in my mouth and the jus just elevated everything even more. Within the flaky puff pastry, there was cabbage and a tender pigeon leg. Honestly this was amazing.
You could say this dish is over the top but god damn…it was good. On the bottom were slices of creamy potatoes that were swimming in a heavenly madeira black truffle sauce. The beef filet was cooked “medium rare”, I’d say more on the rare side, with a nice char on the outside. On top of the tender beef was a pan seared slice of foie gras that added that unctuousness. Gluttonous in every way and I loved it.
Other signature dishes I really wanted to try were the truffle soup, the quenelles of pike, the sea bass stuffed in puff pastry, the filet of sole, and the truffled bresse chicken cooked in a bladder.
If you know me, you know that I’m obsessed with cheese. I don’t think you’ll ever find someone that loves cheese as much as I do. I’m basically the cheese monster!
Heaven on earth.
We asked to just get a small slice of various cheeses so we could taste as many as possible. Tommaso was getting full at this point but I took one for the team and killed the cheese course and devoured it all.
A table near us had one of the most iconic signature dishes at the restaurant, bresse chicken which is a whole young chicken with truffles stuffed in between the meat and flesh. The chicken in cooked inside a pig’s bladder then carved table side. What a show!
A silky vanilla custard had small pieces of ripe sweet pear topped with a creamy mousse. A delightful beginning to the dessert courses.
We actually got the petit fours before our desserts and didn’t want to fill up on them until we decided what we wanted for dessert. The dessert carts came around and it was overwhelming to say the least. Four tables were sprawled out with tantalizing goodies and we were able to choose whatever we desired.
The highlights for the desserts were the crème brûlée, tarte tatin, and surprisingly the fresh raspberries and strawberries with the vanilla and fruit sauce.
L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges has been one of the most extraordinary dining experiences in my life. While the food isn’t modern by any means, they execute traditional French cuisine to the upmost level and every dish was excellently crafted. These dishes are historic masterpieces by the late great chef Paul Bocuse and should live on forever for future generations to experience. For decades, L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges has showcased these dishes and their perfect craftsmanship truly shows. Therefore my rating is a 9/10.
For any food connoisseur, L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges is worth the journey for a special over the top culinary experience. My dream of dining here was more than fulfilled and I hope I can visit again!