Tuesday, 17 July 2012

A vegan in Lyon / Toutes les Couleurs review

There are lots of good things about Lyon. Pretty cobbled streets, low prices, the brilliant Nuits Sonores festival, and so on. Before I visited the city with a friend at the start of the summer which has so far failed to materialise, my only concern was the food. Even our guidebook was obsessed with food.

Ask a Frenchman to play word association with 'Lyon', and he'll probably say 'food'. This is a city renowned for its food culture; specifically its bouchons and prolific use of offal. Foodie central it is, friend of the vegan it is not. However in favour I am of using as much of an animal as possible once you've killed it, I was delighted to learn that there's more to the food of France's second city than tripe and brains.

My travelling companion is vegetarian, and was staying at a friend's house. Said friend provided our first Lyonnais meal, which was utterly delicious if on the unbalanced side. Travelling companion ate cervelle de canut (a sort of seasoned cream cheese - nothing to do with brains, nor even silk weavers' brains). I ate scores of the most perfectly fragrant strawberries from, (yeah, yeah) a little local farmer. We both ate doorstep 'slices' of crusty bread and really good jam. I'm very sad that I didn't get a photo.

After a night of music and frolics, we were well and truly ready for a filling lunch the next day. I'd found Toutes les Couleurs online before we set off, and the fact that it was given a good review in our very French guide book as well as being in the Croix-Rousse area we were both staying in meant that we had to go.

Toutes les Couleurs looks alarmingly health-foody from the outside, but the decor, and - more importantly - the food inside are both great.

Remind me to buy a mini salt cellar like this.

Starter: nettle soup with vegan cream.

Main: tangy lentils with bulgour and oh-so-kawaii vegetables.

Pud: rice pud (cold, as it always bloody is in France), with carrot. Dubious chocolate sauce.

The service was good, and the chef-owner even came out once we'd finished to see what we'd thought of our meal. We were honest and told her we'd really enjoyed it. If you go to Lyon, you'll want to eat here. Beautifully seasoned interesting food, as organic and local as you like.

A trip to Lyon wouldn't be complete without a quick nosey round Les Halles, the stomach of Lyon, I suppose. It's handily located on the walking route from Part-Dieu station and the city centre. Hardly a treasure trove of vegan delights, but certainly a way to explore the gastronomy of Lyon, whether you choose to eat it or not. The picture-perfect non-vegan desserts below are a case in point.

Beautiful, but not for me - like much of the food in Lyon.

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