Cafe Comptoir Abel

25 Rue Guynemer, Lyon, 69002, France

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Food in Lyon does not get any more traditional than Café Comptoir Abel. Located not far from the Saone river, this little place has been trading for a long time. I was told there that it opened in 1928, but its website claims a much more venerable 1726 as its year of establishment. Either way it is an historic "bouchon" of Lyon. Head chef Alain Vigneron has worked in the restaurant since 1976, and has been in charge of the kitchens for 16 years. The simple dining room has closely packed tables, with a further room upstairs.

The short wine list had a couple of dozen bottles, with almost half the choice being local Rhone wines. Prices ranged from €21 to €125, with labels such as Combier Crozes Hermitage 2013 at €43 for a wine that retails at €25, Cote Rotie Les Vins de Vienne Essartailles 2011 at €79 compared to a market price of €57, and Hermitage Monnier de la Sizeranne from Chapoutier at €125 for a bottle that will set you back €86 in a shop.

Salad Lyonnaise (what else?) was priced at €12.50 and comprised bacon, a poached egg, croutons and frisee lettuce with a nicely balanced dressing. This was hardly earth shattering but it was well made, a pleasant and hearty dish (13/20). Pike quenelles (€18) are a tradition of Lyon, the recipe first appearing in print in 1830. A savoury dumpling made from flour, milk, butter, water and eggs, the quenelles are mixed with minced pike and allowed to set, then rolled out and poached to order before being finished in the oven. The result was light and comforting, the pike flavour not too strong in the version here (14/20). To finish, a slice of tarte fine au pommes (€8.50) was very good, the pastry delicate and the apples nicely caramelised (14/20). 

For lunch the three courses were available at a special price of €34 (£27) plus drinks. If you came for dinner and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical bill per person might be £50. This was an enjoyable experience, the restaurant completely full with local customers even on a Monday lunch in November.   

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