When I was looking for where to eat in Lyon and realised I was literally staying next door to Lyon’s “famous” Brasserie Georges, I had to pay it a visit. I’d read about how sumptuous the food was, so I thought it fitting to check it out.
That way I could sample some dishes for myself and then decide whether I would recommend it as somewhere to eat in Lyon.
Founded in 1836, Brasserie George is the oldest brasserie in the city. It is also apparently one of the largest brasseries in Europe, something that won’t be hard to believe when you walk in the door.
It is huge inside, with lines and lines of tables, as well as an outdoor terrace for the warmer days.
If you’re considering where to eat in Lyon, and whether Brasserie Georges is worth your time, you should consider the following.
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How to find Brasserie Georges
Brasserie Georges can be found at 30 Cours de Verdun Perrache. This is in the Perrache area of Lyon, in the second arrondisement of the city.
It’s about a ten to 15 minute walk from Place Bellecour, a large pedestrian square that you’ll probably visit when you’re in the city. Overall, it’s around a 20 minute walk from the old town (you might need this after a meal here!).
If you’re not familiar with this area, the best thing to do is to head for the Gare de Lyon Perrache railway station. Brasserie Georges in on the other side of the small park – Place Carnot – next to the station.
Reserving a table at Brasserie Georges
You can’t reserve a table online, although you can telephone the restaurant in advance if you’re keen to make sure you secure one. The number specified on the website for reservations is 04 72 56 54 54.
As we were staying so close we just popped in to make a reservation. We were informed that we didn’t need to do that (maybe because it was for a Sunday evening?). We were, however, told what time to arrive to ensure we got a table.
We took their advice and were glad we did. The place is clearly incredibly popular and there was no shortage of arrivals during the time we were there.
So, I’d plan what time you turn up – either by reserving in advance or arriving a little earlier than you need to.
If you do turn up and find there’s a bit of a wait for a table, there is a small bar to the right when you enter the front door. This would be a pleasant place to sit and have a pre-dinner aperitif.
During the warmer months, there is seating outside. Although if I’m honest, you wouldn’t have the greatest view outside as the restaurant is on the side of a fairly busy road.
Opening times for Brasserie Georges
Brasseries Georges is open every day of the week from 11.30am. On most nights it closes at 11pm, except for a Friday and Saturday night when it stays open until 12.15am.
The food in Brasserie Georges
There is an extensive menu in Brasserie Georges. It’s not difficult to find something you might like when you scan through it.
As well as the normal sections detailing starters, main courses and desserts, there are daily specials on offer during the week.
You can also order seafood platters or individual pieces of a seafood (e.g. winkles, pieces of crab or lobster, clams and cockles). There are also several types of oysters to choose from.
There are both hot and cold starters. Many of these reflect the emphasis on meat in Lyonnaise cooking. For example, there’s the Royal Meat Pastry Pie (containing veal and foie gras), chicken liver and foie gras terrine, and burgundy snails.
You can, however, find some pescatarian and vegetarian dishes. There’s smoked salmon with bread, herrings and potatoes, ravioles (a cheesy pasta dish) and butternut squash soup.
For main courses, there are several sections to choose from. There is a “sauerkraut” section: essentially a range of dishes served with sauerkraut (and generous portions if the dish we ordered was anything to go by!). These were mainly pork dishes, but there was one fish and seafood dish.
There is then a fish section. This includes pike quenelles, roasted fillet of seabass with squid ink tagliatelle (a person at the next table to us ordered this and it looked amazing), and grilled prawns with steamed spinach and orange butter sauce.
There is a specific menu of “meat and Lyon specialties”. Again, there’s a lot of pork, but also veal calf’s head, raw steak tartar, beef tenderloin.
Some of the dishes are also a bit different; things you don’t see many places – e.g. pork and pistachio sausage and pork foot in breadcrumbs.
Overall, you won’t feel short-changed by the choice on offer here. In fact, the size of the menu means it’s quite hard to choose among the dishes.
And while it’s true that the menu leans pretty heavily towards meat, you can find things to choose from if you only eat fish or are a non-meat eater.
Before you go to Brasserie Georges, you should be warned that the portions are humongous. I’m ashamed to say that I’d pretty much eaten the equivalent of my normal evening meal by the time I’d finished my starter.
So, you might want to consider that when deciding what to order, especially if you go for the Lyonnaise food, as I found this tended to be quite heavy. And definitely don’t even try to stick to the diet here!
Fortunately, the waiters are wise enough to leave plenty of space between serving courses. Although that may just be a fortunate consequence of them being so busy.
For our starters, my partner chose ravioles du royan, a French speciality. It’s basically a cheesy vegetarian pasta dish in a light creamy sauce.
This was absolutely amazing – the sauce was really fresh with lots of fine herbs. It was so good, I ordered this for lunch the next day in another restaurant (and although good, it didn’t even come close to how flavoursome this version was).
I had the French onion soup. This is a perfect dish for cold winter nights, with its huge wedge of cheesy gratinated bread laying on the top.
The waiter also brings a glass to the table with a mixture of madeira wine and egg yolk in it. This is stirred into the soup on serving. It adds flavour and is apparently good for the digestion.
For his main course, my partner then chose the St Georges dish from the sauerkraut menu. This consisted of a slice of smoked belly of pork, with three different types of smoked sausages.
It was served on a hot skillet with a massive mound of sauerkraut and boiled potatoes. There’s mustard on the side as a condiment.
Not being a meat eater, I ordered pike quenelles in a seafood sauce with mushrooms. This is a dish that you see on a lot of the menus in Lyon and I was curious.
I have to say, it wasn’t quite what I expected, especially visually. When it came out, it looked a bit like a chicken breast sitting in a sauce!
It certainly didn’t taste like chicken though. It was a bit more like a fish soufflé to me – a dish with a faint fish taste and a spongy texture. Again, it was very filling, and you don’t need to order any side dishes to accompany it.
I’m glad I tried it. It was tasty – although in honesty, I preferred the starter of ravioles.
At the end of these two courses, we were pretty much beaten. We’d eaten two large portions of heavy Lyonnaise food.
But I’d looked at the menu before we arrived and already decided that I was going to have their Baked Alaska for desert.
This is a dish I’d never tried before and always wanted to (and I’m not sure you see this in many places any more).
We toyed with the idea of passing on this due to our very full stomachs, but what the hell! We knew we wouldn’t be back at Brasserie Georges for a while.
So out it came, accompanied by a burning sparkler. And as quick as I was able to take a picture of it, our waiter had drenched it in brandy, set it alight and flambéed it!
We quickly tucked into it. And the saying that some people have – that you can always find room for dessert – really was true in this instance.
Maybe it was also because this was a really light desert – a combination of tutti frutti ice-cream with meringue on the outside. Whatever the reason, we didn’t leave much!
What are the prices at Brasserie Georges?
When considering where to eat in Lyon, Brasserie Georges isn’t on the cheapest end of the spectrum. However, it didn’t seem to be that much different in price to lots of the other restaurants we saw in Lyon.
There are several starters priced at under 10 euros, with several also between 14 to 16 euros. Main courses tend to be between 20 and 25 euros, although there are a few under 20 euros. Desserts average out between 6 and 8 euros.
There are also two set menus, one at 24.50 euros for three courses (or 27.50 for 4 courses) and another at 22.50 euros.
Also bear in mind that you really don’t need to eat three courses because the portion sizes are so big. Alternatively, you could share starters and desserts which would obviously bring the costs down.
What makes Brasserie Georges special?
Obviously, the main reason to visit Brasserie Georges is the food. In my opinion, this in itself is reason enough to make your way here.
But there’s also other things that make Brasserie Georges somewhere worth visiting.
Undoubtedly, it includes the building with its art deco interior. One of the waiters told us that although the building dates from 1836, the interior was renovated in the 1920s, hence the current design.
Make sure you look around you when you’re there and note the walls, ceiling and ornate chandeliers hanging above you. Also don’t miss the old fashioned organ sitting not far from the entrance.
The vibe in the restaurant is warm, welcoming and buzzy. It’s a place that makes for a special evening out, but equally it’s pretty informal and relaxed. You don’t need to dress up here, but if you do you won’t feel out of place.
The fact that Brasserie Georges is so large also means that it’s an ideal place for group outings. There were a few of these in on the night we were there.
However, they were seated away from couples who might want a quieter – or more romantic – experience. As a result, there’s no disruption from any larger, noisier parties.
It’s also a good place for birthday celebrations. You’ll quickly realise that anyone having a birthday gets good wishes from the whole restaurant.
The first time the lights dimmed, I was a bit confused. I then realised that this was part of the ritual of plunging the room into darkness and wheeling out an old-fashioned fairground organ that plays happy birthday. The birthday boy or girl is then presented with a cake with a sparkler on the top.
By the fifth time this happened, I could predict what was about to happen! It’s obviously a place to come if you’re having a birthday or if you want a lovely evening out.
The things that are unique to Brasserie Georges
I loved the fact that Brasserie Georges has a lot of things that are unique to it. Things that you won’t find anywhere else.
For example, it produces its own Alsatian beers. You have a choice of blonde, golden and brunette draft beers (my partner tried a blonde) and a generous range of bottled beers.
Not only can you try them when visiting, but you can buy some to take back home. And if you particularly liked the experience, you can buy a souvenir of a Brassiere George apron, book or CD of the jazz music they play on a Saturday night!
There’s also a photo booth at the back of the restaurant. I assumed this was purely decorative. Apparently not. If you’re having a night out you can mark it by having your photo taken.
The antiquated booth is beautiful. The only modern thing about it is that you can’t pay with cash and you have to use a card as payment.
Would I recommend Brasserie Georges as a place to eat out in Lyon?
Yes, I definitely would recommend Brasserie Georges if you’re looking for somewhere to eat out in Lyon. It’s a really special dining experience with a real buzz and a vibrant atmosphere that serves great local food.
Just make sure you’ve not eaten much before you go!
For information on other things to see and do in Lyon, look out for my next post.
And if you’re a foodie and want to try out the Lyonnaise food, try out this 4 hour walking tour around the old town, a food tour around the Presqu’ile part of the city, or 2.5 hour lunch cruise along the river.
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