Bouchon- traditional workers’ cuisine

Want to have a healthy salad for lunch? Forget about a Salade Lyonaise. It is essentially bacon fat poured over lettuce with a shallot in the mix and a pouched egg on top. Not even a tomato in sight. It is tasty though. This salad was my first course of two at Bouchon des Artistes in Lyon, France. It is emblematic of this style of cooking: not too fancy and using comparatively inexpensive ingredients. The Bouchon started as small inns frequented by Canuts(silk workers) in the seventeenth century, thus the tradition, and yet producing a tasty meal.

Typical stuff: sausage, especially Andouille, liver pate, meat from the pig’s neck or belly. It’s also about the friendly, relaxed atmosphere and a personal relationship with the staff. Indeed our waiter spent quite a bit of time chatting with us, while clearing up our misunderstandings- we were expecting more meat dishes.

I ordered a quenelle. It is is a mixture of creamed fish or meat, mixed with flour or breadcrumbs, bound with eggs and shaped into a egg shaped load. It is baked or poached, and served with a sauce or broth- mine was thin. The one they brought me was fish based, mildly bisque flavored.


Below is a recent menu from the restaurant. Among the offerings: Cromesquis de tête de veau. A qromesquis is a croquette, this one being made with the meat of a veal’s head. Also Ballottine de volaille, stuffed chicken breasts. There are many versions of the Ballottine, this one has crawfish and autumn vegetables.

recent menu des artistes
Recent menu from Bouchon des Artistes

Coq au vin is another common offering, as well as chick liver salad, pot-au-feu (pot roast), and artichoke thistle in bone marrow. Even if you are squeamish you can usually find something that’s not quite so, well, basic.

Also on their menu, the city’s favorite (or at least most common) dessert: pralines. Based on almonds, they are commonly served as a sweet cake with the praline mixture dyed bright, bright red. Cafe gourmand, seen here too, is a comparatively late addition to dessert menus. It comes with an espresso served with several small sweets.

Naturally there is variation in the menu from Bouchon to Bouchon, even from day to day in the same, and some menus we looked at were in the €40 range, not cheap but a far cry from the city’s €300+ joints. Then again, on a budget or wanting to keep the calories down and save time, you can get a sandwich Greque (a donor kebab) for around €8 and something from a bakery, say a slice of the French take on a slice of pizza, for less than €5.

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