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English food in the capital of gastronomy?

 
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Andrew le Gourmand



Joined: 06 Jun 2008
Posts: 52
Location: Edmonton, Alberta

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:25 pm    Post subject: English food in the capital of gastronomy? Reply with quote

Some years ago I was in Lyon and I saw a restaurant, 'Mr Higgins', I think it was called, that appeared to be an English resto.

I didn't eat there (have you been to Lyon? There are too many great places to eat) but I often wonder:

1. If it was any good.
2. If it survived.

As an Englishman I find the irony of an English resto in Lyon to be just wonderful.

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible, if never easy or cheap, to find good food in England. It is even possible to find good English food and not, W. Somerset Maugham notwithstanding, just by having breakfast three times a day.

I just love the idea of the French eating Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding, Lancashire hot-pot or Shepherds' Pie (which for some reason the Québécois know as "Pâté Chinois").

So, can anyone help me?
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 1:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom Higgins published a book of his (and his wife's) adventures opening an English restaurant in Lyon entitled Spotted Dick, S'il Vous Plait: An English Restaurant in France in the early 1990s. (Originally published in Britain as Plat du Jour: An English Restaurant in Lyons...guess they thought that title wasn't racy enough...). It's a charming account of their experiences, and I'm certain that restaurant ("Mr. Higgins") is the one to which you refer.

The restaurant survived for at least several years, but I have no idea of whether it's still around. Maybe another correspondent here does, but in the meantime, you'd probably enjoy Higgins' book, if you can still find it.
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Andrew le Gourmand



Joined: 06 Jun 2008
Posts: 52
Location: Edmonton, Alberta

PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't imagine there being two English restos in Lyon, I was surprised there was even one in France; I think it is true to say that the French as a nation (feel free to contradict me here anyone) regard English cooking with distain, not to say contempt. I think it is also true to say that English cooks generally fail to meet the low expectations the French have for the.

I will now repair to my nearest bookshop and see if I can get a copy.
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Rachel



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 296
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think reports of French disdain for British food are a bit exaggerated - or maybe it's more accurate to say that attitudes have changed in the last five years or so. I've never been to Lyon so I can't say anything about the restaurant you mention, but in Paris, there's an incredibly popular Anglo-French cafe called Rose Bakery which has been packed from day one... and not just with homesick expats. Granted, the food they serve at lunch isn't particularly English, but the breakfasts (porridge, full English, boiled eggs with marmite soldiers) and puddings (Eton mess, sticky toffee, crumble etc.) definitely are.

I have an English friend who lived in Paris for a year and whenever she was invited to anyone's house and she asked what she could bring, the answer was invariably 'peux-tu apporter des scones?' Wink
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minty



Joined: 17 Jul 2006
Posts: 140

PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm French, and I love English food !
I read Tom Higgins' book a few months ago, and it is funny and quite well-written ! Very Happy
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Andrew le Gourmand



Joined: 06 Jun 2008
Posts: 52
Location: Edmonton, Alberta

PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all.

Yes, now that I think about it, in Quebec my scones were popular.

Good English food can be excellent, if you can find it. Bad English food... Well bad food is always bad.

My very best friends in the world (excluding the woman who, for reasons that still baffle me, consented to become my wife) are from the Languedoc and adore British cheese, Stilton in particular.

I shall have to look up the Rose Bakery next time I'm in Paris, it can't be soon enough. The thing I miss most about living in England is being so close to France. When I left I should have gone but I got lost and ended up near Edmonton, Alberta.
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Rachel



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 296
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andrew, once you're done with the Tom Higgins book you might like to check out the Rose Bakery cookbook (Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery) in anticipation of your next trip to Paris... good reading and good eating. I can especially recommend the date scones.

I agree with you, one of the best bits about living in England is having France practically on one's doorstep!
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minty



Joined: 17 Jul 2006
Posts: 140

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well...for me, one of the best thing of living in Paris is the short Eurostar trip to London ! Very Happy
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Lilia Dignan



Joined: 23 Mar 2005
Posts: 159
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Georgia - I read that book several years back and really enjoyed the story of getting the restaurant started. And they did serve Spotted Dick for dessert in their restaurant.

I was in Beaujolais and toured Lyon with friends but both days we were there rained cats and dogs with just enough dryness to get up to the top of the hill. Got to visit the marche as one of the cousins sell flowers there but drove back each night to eat with relatives and one special night at the Chateau de Bagnols which had great food and the largest fireplace I've ever seen. My best souvenir was a box of Bernachon chocolates.

Rachel - I have that Rose Bakery Cookbook and enjoy going back from time to time reading it. I must include stopping by to have lunch on my next trip to Paris.
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Judy



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 1196
Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We walked past the Rose Bakery almost every day when we were in Paris, but just never got there to eat. Next time.

Minty, I agree about the Eurostar - we loved it. So much more civilised than battling through 2 airports each way.
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chochotte



Joined: 14 Jun 2006
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The French CAN be pretty distainful about British food but I honestly don't know where they get their ideas from. I was watching morning TV and they were talking about visiting London and the presenter immediately made the usual jokes about food there. Now, I'm not saying that British food is necessarily stellar, but the first thing she said was "Beeeuuurk, boiled meat! English food, it's terrible!"

I'm English and I've never eaten boiled meat in my life, unless you count stew, and I can't see the French having a problem with that.

Many also think that lamb and mint sounds disgusting, but have never tried it.

They certainly do love scones: not only Rose Bakery, but the (non-affiliated) Bread & Roses does them too. RB's are much better though...!

As for RB: the food may not be TOTALLY British but it sums up what British food now means to me, as a young-ish person who grew up with the revival of British cooking: a focus on good sourcing, fresh ingredients, simplicity, and a willingness to be influenced by many other cuisines. And there are scones, carrot cake, eton mess, proper cooked breakfasts, Marmite, Cornish pasties, and yes! even lamb and mint! So a good amount of British-ness... no boiled meat, though, thanks very much.
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lamb and mint! So good!
I'm in the States, I'd say we have extreme extremes of good and bad here. But I often click over to "BBC-Food", haven't been disappointed yet!
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Andrew le Gourmand



Joined: 06 Jun 2008
Posts: 52
Location: Edmonton, Alberta

PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have had some truly amazing meals in the US, including my first ever experience of Sushi; it was a religious experience (as was my first Saki hangover).

America also gets the credit for my first Cajun, Creole and Tex-Mex meals. You can forgive a lot of Mac-Don'ts on the basis of one Cajun meal.

I think you can find great food everywhere if you are prepared to look.

I'm hungry, I think I'm going to start looking now.
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irish girl



Joined: 03 Aug 2008
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:36 pm    Post subject: "Mister Higgens" Lyon Reply with quote

Hi, I was clearing out stuff yesterday and came across the restaurant business card. Decided to check out online if it was still there and came across this forum. I used to work there 11 years ago for sunday brunch while i was a student in Lyon. I've no idea if "Mister Higgens" is still there but at the time it was very popular and the food was fabulous and Tom was a lovely man. The address on the business card says 16 Rue Dumenge 69004 Lyon, (04) 78 30 10 20 Hope this helps.
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