It turns out I’ve eaten at several establishments owned by Kyoto’s Bell Cour Group without knowing it. Downtown’s Bouchon is very well liked however, in my opinion, a few years ago it went through a bit of a slump- the food was lacklustre and the service abrupt – however I’m told that this stalwart of the Kyoto restaurant scene is doing much better so I’ll check it out again one day in the not too distant future to see if things have picked up. I love Lyonnaise cuisine so if things are as good as I’m told – I’ll definitely be back…
I’ll go as far as to say that had I known that Bell Cour (recently renamed Le Part Dieu) was owned by the same group as Bouchon I probably wouldn’t have bothered. In the reverse – had I known it sat under the same umbrellla as one of my favourite local cafes – Au Temps Perdu I would have rushed there. Au Temps perdu was situated just 5 minutes walk from my old apartment in Higashiyama – a little too close for me to stay away from their excellent takeaway Quiche and Baba au Rhum.
Anyway, as it turned out I ventured to Belle Cour / Le Part Dieu without prejudice and enjoyed a rather lovely lunch on my own. Funnily enough – what made it most enjoyable was the service. The waiter was the person who informed me of the link to Bouchon and the fact that he used to work there – and yet another curious fact – that he was about to return to said establishment. That alone is one very good reason for returning to Bouchon. I look forward to seeing him there.
I arrived early to Belle Cour on a cold winter’s day and had the restaurant to myself for some time – which is how an extended and vibrant chat occurred with the sole waiter. He was charming, had excellent English skills and knew his food and wine. I like dining alone, quite happy with my own company – something you get used to when you travel a lot – but I really enjoyed the interaction – and had he sat down to join me it wouldn’t have been a problem.
The space itself did indeed take me to France and back again. The food was creative and well executed. The service topnotch and the price most reasonable. Definitely worth checking out but as the restaurant is situated a little north of the main city grid you will probably need to get a taxi so make sure you have your hotel write down the address for you. If you are visiting the Shimogamo shrine area this would be a great place for lunch.
The five course TDH menu had a choice of starter, main and dessert . Plus you could choose soup or wine included in the price… what do you think I went for?
My personalised menu consisted of:
An amuse of lightly pickled Mackerel and vegetables presented in a jar with smoke. A great way to awaken the palate.
Starter of Scallops, whipped roast carrot mousse, raw carrot ribbons, uni (urchin), carrot and ginger vinaigrette – fresh and surprising
Main dish of New Zealand Lamb cutlets, cabbage, mushroom and crisp potato, a light jus and a puree of nanohana (canola) and kabu (turnip) greens providing a good mustardy hit. While the food was packed with flavour it had a light Japanese touch and was really easy to eat without feeling overly full.
The chef’s take on Far Breton, baked in a ramekin with salted caramel ice cream. Oooh to the lah lah. It was good.
And of course – good coffee and 3 gorgeously presented handmade sweeties were included
All for around 4000 yen. About $45 AUD