La Pyramide, Vienne

June 24, 2009

La Pyramide was a legend in its day, as was Fernand Point, its chef from 1925 until his death in 1955. His widow, Mado, kept it going for thirty more years. I remember her sitting with her dog in her loge by the front door when I first went to La Pyramide in the late 1960’s with John and Carol. Of course we had the gratin de queues d’ecrévisses, but I can’t remember what else we had.

La Pyramide was closed in 1988. It was brought back to life by Patrick Henriroux, who joined twenty years ago in June, 1989. We had first enjoyed his cooking at La Ferme du Mougins. He achieved his second Michelin star in 1992; he became full owner in 1998 and joined Relais & Châteaux the following year. He continues to renovate and expand the hotel and restaurant.

lptWe have been returning to La Pyramide every time we are in the northern Rhône Valley so it seemed a familiar sight as we drove around the Roman pyramid towards its front door on June 12, 2009. The pyramid, which was thought for many centuries to be the tomb of Pontius Pilate, was actually the stand for the judges of the chariot races in the Roman circus which stood here two thousand years ago.
 

This was the first time we had dined outside on the lovely terrace. We started with the apéritif maison, crème de pêche de vigne marinated with verveine filled with sparkling wine. Very nice on a warm summer evening.
 

Three exquisite little round hors d’oeuvres were served to each of us.

We ordered the Menu Découverte. This is the chef’s choice of dishes. It was described to us, but nothing was written. The evening was so lovely and relaxing on the terrace that I was not inspired to interrupt things to take notes; I am writing this a week later so I will not be able to give you exact descriptions of many of the dishes.

La Pyramide is famous for its wine list from the northern Rhone Valley. We ordered a bottle of 2006 Cuilleron “Vertige” Condrieu, which was sensational. We also had a half-bottle of 2005 Patrick Jasmin Côte Rôtie.

The amuse-gueule was a gazpacho with crayfish tails and other goodies in the middle. A wafer with tapenade added needed crunch.
 

 

My first course was a charlotte of lobster with artichokes. A lobster reduction made the sauce and the top gel. The black wafer was of squid ink. Excellent.
 

 

Linda’s first course was a molded cake of potatoes and truffles, topped with truffle slices, napped with a truffle sauce. This was one of the à la carte specials of the evening described to us when the menus were first presented. I am very sceptical of summer truffles and was not interested, but Linda cannot have enough truffles and asked if it could be included in her menu, which it was with no supplement, “un cadeau.” Linda thought that it was a terrific dish and that the truffles were very flavorful.


Our next course was a velouté of fresh spring peas with snails. I can’t remember what the white foam was, but it was good and complemented the peas. The ham on the toast slice was excellent.

When our waiter came around as we were finishing the dish, he asked how it was. I said that it was very nice, but that I thought it was supposed to have frogs legs, not snails, and showed him my last snail. He muttered something about the kitchen, disappeared and came back after a while with lovely crisply fried frogs legs. A warm pea broth was poured around them. A finger bowl was provided so one could pick up the frogs legs. Nice.

 

Then we had a piece of lotte with a mélange of vegetables including eggplant, artichokes and tomato confit. This would have been excellent if a more interesting fish had been used. Lotte has its place in sauced concoctions, but lacks elegance when served as a chunk of fish. 

Our meat course was a perfectly cooked pigeon thigh on wild mushrooms with wild asparagus and a pigeon stock reduction. Very good.
 

 

There were two large cheese baskets and a tray of condiments to go with them. I don’t know the logic of having such an imposing array, but the cheeses all seemed to be interesting and in perfect shape. As La Pyramide is always full, I guess they have the volume to support this variety. Unfortunately I thought I could only manage three of them.


I can’t remember what this predessert was.

The dessert was several variations on cherries, which are seasonal and local now. The cage
is white chocolate.
 

 
 

The whole meal was excellent. The service was friendly and efficient; the ambiance was superb.


I took this photo the following morning. It shows the terrace where we had dined. It looks out onto a completely enclosed, well-landscaped garden and so is peaceful and lovely, even though we are in the city.


This is the view in the other direction showing the breakfast terrace and the inside breakfast room. That terrace is a lower priced bistro restaurant at lunch and dinner. Our room was the one at the upper right.

Our stay at La Pyramide was a real pleasure in all respects. We will be back again.

http://www.lapyramide.com

One Response to “La Pyramide, Vienne”

  1. John and Carol Says:

    Many thanks for your report on La Pyramid; brings back nice memories. We also can’t remember any of the food we shared in the late 60s, other than the gratin de queues d’ecrévisses, but we almost certainly had Chateau Grillet.


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