Eating out: Au 14 Fevrier, Lyon

Au 14 Fevrier describes itself as a Franco-Japanese fusion restaurant. As with many very good French restaurants, the chef, Tsuyoshi Arai, is Japanese. He describes his food, accurately, as ten per cent Japanese and 90 per cent French. I usually run a mile from ‘fusion food’. Especially when I’m visiting another country and want to eat the local stuff..

But this is a place that Lyon’s most famous American resident Bill Buford describes as Lyon’s “best small restaurant you haven’t heard of and where you won’t get a reservation“. It’s only got 14 seats and it’s always packed. So it seemed well worth a visit.

You don’t get to check out the menu before, during, or even after your meal. For 82 Euro, you get a secret eight course feast of seasonal ingredients, with a wine pairing menu also on offer. I think the mystery of not knowing what is coming next adds to the excitement.

The food is beautifully presented. Flavour combinations, some of which are classic and some more adventurous, all work very well. Some of the food is very inventive and playful, you get the impression that the chef has a sense of humour. The service, with this being such a small restaurant, feels very friendly and personal.

Au 14 Fevrier is a delightful place to eat and I get the feeling that the talented young chef is someone we’ll be hearing a lot more about in the future.

So,on to the food. An aperitif of champagne and yuzu started things off well, the citrus flavour of the yuzu complemented the champagne well. Then on to a selection of three amuse-bouches. Wafer-thin brioche toast with Lyon sausage:

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Puffed rice with salmon sashimi and apple and cream, reminiscent of a sandwich you might enjoy in am English garden in Summer:

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A shot of quenelle with snail, intensely buttery and flavoured with parsley:

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Egg yolk with mustard emulsion and salami pieces, served with a dipping waffle:

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Gazpacho with three tomatoes, ham, craime fraiche, micro basil and jelly – an incredibly refreshing dish. Served with Janasse Viognier 2011, a powerful Viognier, less aromatic and more fruit-driven.

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Scallop-stuffed courgette flower with chorizo, peas, courgette and sweetcorn citrus dressing. As with many dishes, the vegetables were beautifully presented and al dente. Served with a glass of Champagne ‘nature’ (no sugar added):

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Foie with cherries, broad beans, biscuit crumb and a dill garnish. My favourite dish of the night.

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Served with a glass of Viognier dessert wine by Chapoutier:

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Monkfish with beurre noisette, celeriac puree, onion, fennel and samphire. Served with an oaky white Chardonnay from Burgundy:

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Entrecote with char-grilled Summer vegetables. Served with a glass of Languedoc Syrah:

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Cheese course:

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Caramel ice cream with passion, fruit, orange and Guinness mousse:

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Bavarois with peach, jelly, ice cream and fruit nougat. A deliciously grown-up version of jelly and ice-cream. Served with a glass of Moscatel:

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Petits fours:

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