La Pyramide, Vienne 2

September 8, 2009

We had enjoyed La Pyramide so much in June that we jumped at the chance to return on August 31, 2009. We flew into Lyon from New York as Delta Airlines would give us upgrades to Lyon, which were not available into Nice. We spent the morning walking around central and Old Lyon, visited the Musée des Beaux Arts and headed for Vienne in our rental car.

Even though it was very warm, the hot, swirling wind meant that dinner had to be in the dining room rather than the lovely terrace. The formal ambience of the dining room is livened up by enormous paintings of vegetables.

We started with the apéritif maison, crème de pêche de vigne marinated with verveine filled with sparkling wine. With it were three hors d’oeuvres:
Le Fondant, le Moelleux et le Croustillant.
I don’t remember the details, but there were a little savory macaroon, a tomato cake and a thin slice of ham wrapped around a mini-grissino.

Suivis d’un Amuse-Bouche Gourmand

The amuse-bouche which followed had a round pastry I can’t remember, an herb cream and a layered vegetable cake with a beet sauce. They were all quite different and somewhat surprising for the amuse-bouche.

The menus give a choice of a quite expensive à la carte selection, of a Menu Découverte at €158 and of a:

« Menu, Sensibilité »
110 € : 3 plats au choix, fromages & desserts
120 € : 4 plats, fromages & desserts

Depuis le 1er juillet 2009
95 € : 2 plats au choix, fromages & desserts
105 € : 3 plats au choix, fromages & desserts
115 € : 4 plats, fromages & desserts

Restaurants in France have been under government and media pressure to lower prices since the July 1 lowering of the Value Added Tax on the food, (but not the wine,) from 19.6% to 5.5%. Here we can see La Pyramide’s response with lower prices and the possibility of having only two plates before the cheese and dessert. At our request the maître d’hôtel asked the kitchen what would be in the Menu Découverte. Even though it had a more luxurious tone, we didn’t think it sounded as intriguing as the Menu, Sensibilité, which we ordered with all the dishes.

In June we had liked the 2006 Cuilleron Condrieu “Vertige” so much we decided to try it again, rather than plunge for the Château Grillet. We also ordered a bottle of 2005 Cuilleron “Les Serines” Saint Joseph.

The Condrieu was terrific again and the Saint Joseph did not disappoint us.


The first course was
Fine soupe de Pommes de Terres aux Truffes Aestivum, Canard Mi-Fumé et Copeaux de Foie Gras Poché.

We discovered in June that La Pyramide has a source for surprisingly tasty summer truffles. These were very good with their aroma brought out in the thick cooled potato soup. The thin slices of foie gras and smoked duck breast added to the sense of luxury.

Focaccia de Homard à la Râpée de Fenouil et Courgette, Consommé clair en Marinière à l’Huile d’Olive.

This was superb. A generous portion of lobster topped a crisp rectangle of foccacia. This was on top of a rectangle of shredded fennel and zucchini. The lovely sauce, which dominated the dish, was a clear reduction of shellfish with a bit of olive oil.

Bar cuit croustillant à la peau sur une Tomate Coeur de Boeuf aux Pignons de Pin, Pistou et Gnocchis de Citrons, Emulsion au Safran.

This was also superb. The bass with crisp skin and moist flavorful meat topped a tomato slice in which the flavors had been concentrated. The fish broth underneath had just the right amount of saffron. The lemon gnocchi helped absorb it and add substance.

Suprême et Cuisse de Pigeon de Saint Alban en Ballotin, Lasagnes d’Aubergines aux Condiments, Jus lié à la Tapenade d’Olives Douces.

A half pigeon was cooked pink on the inside and crisp on the outside. It was dressed with a pigeon glaze speckled with black olive bits. The “lasagna” was layered with a spiced eggplant purée. Very nice.

Une Sélection des Fromages de nos Régions.

As in June, the cheese and its condiments arrived in two enormous trolleys. You can see their photo from our last blogpost by clicking here. The curly cheese on Linda’s plate is Tête de Moine from the Swiss Jura. This method of serving thin scraped slices brings out its aroma. She liked its delicacy. The chèvre of the region, the tomme de brebis and the Epoisse were also good. I had dates, pistachios and raisins served with my selection. The herb coated one is Brin d’amour, a Corsican sheeps milk cheese.

The pre-dessert on our menu was: Découverte de l’Ananas “Victoria”, en Gelée de Grenade.

However, not caring for pineapple, Linda asked for a substitution and we were both served:
Abricots rôtis, Crème à la Lavande, Sorbet d’Abricots, jus de Cerises.

The baked apricots had a concentrated flavor that went nicely with the refreshing effect of the lavender cream, the apricot sorbet and the cherry juice.
Cannelloni de Fruits de l’Eté, comme une omelette des Ampuisais, Sorbet à la Fraise.

I had the dessert on the menu. The “cannelloni” is a crisp thin meringue around raspberries. Its sweetness contrasted with the slight tartness of the fresh berries and the strawberry sorbet. 

Le Soufflé Chaud au Grand Marnier dans la Tradition

Linda also asked for a substitution for her dessert and was happy with a traditional Souflée Grand Marnier.
Les Friandises

These were elaborate and very good.

 We enjoyed the meal a lot. The first three courses were on a par with the most expensive menus at three-star restaurants. Everything else was very good with no failures.

In June La Pyramide was turning people away. On this Monday, August 31, the last day of the traditional French vacations, the dining room was not even half full. This was the effect of “la rentrée”, the annual French return to work and school after the traditional vacation month. On our short drive south from Lyon to Vienne we could see that the traffic going north on the Autoroute was very heavy.

The following morning I was still affected by the six-hour time change and slept until 10:00, but breakfast downstairs was still being cheerfully served.

The croissant, the pain au chocolat, the red fruit muffin, the fruit conserves, the honey, the yoghurt and the café au lait all were excellent. This ended another fine stay at La Pyramide. We headed south to our house in Beaulieu-sur-Mer with a stop at Chantecôtes, a wine cooperative in Sainte Cécile les Vignes that has been a favorite of ours for many years.

To see our blogpost from our meal at La Pyramide in June click here.

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