Hidden in a non-descript alley in la Croix Rousse in Lyon is a restaurant that I have fallen head over heels for. How could one not be in love when there is a menu for 25 euros for a dish of unlimited frog legs?
Of course, today being my big 24th birthday I decided the best way to celebrate was to haul my Mom and Bri to an all-you-can-eat frog leg palace and make it worth it. I mean, all you can eat buffets are one thing, but an endless supply of frog legs are a rarity in France... plus seeing Bri's eyes go wide with joy only makes the experience even better.
Le Jardin des Dombes was the first restaurant I searched in France when I had a huge craving for frog around our anniversary in February. I was even more excited to drag my American mother into the local restaurant and share the experience of sucking tiny little frog bones and waddling home with a stomach coated in butter and parsley. Plus what better way to enjoy her last Sunday in France, and my goal to truly profit and get as round as possible before I end up having to study all the time.
We crawled up to the restaurant, only taking slight detours to purchase some pastries for my birthday, and sitting down I looked at the young waiter and simply stated, on va prendre trois de votre menu grenouille à volonté. He smiled, nodded and collected our menus.
Quickly we smelt the frying of the legs and a giant dish was placed in front of our faces. Brian dished out the frogs and gave a short presentation on our frog eating skills, pull apart this leg, take of this meat, suck on that part. Soon enough we were in a feeding frenzy of frog dipping our bread into the sauce and eating the tiny sticks of meat.
Amazingly, as a Sunday, it was packed and full of families sucking down frog. I leaned over the edge of the upstairs seating area to watch the older couples eating together. I looked at Bri, I want to be like that, and after the 3rd plate of frogs we were filled.
Toss in a couple of pots du vin and mix in a serving of home made ice cream and we were stuffed. The best part of the restaurant however, was the conversation afterwards. I smiled at the young waiter and the chef who had wandered upstairs (we were the last); Est-ce que c'est bien un restaurant familial ici? The chef nodded, warmly and pointed to the young waiter, Il est mon fils et ma soeur, elle travaille ici des fois aussi donc, ouais, c'est familial ici. I nodded and added, j'adore ça, j'adore les entreprises qui sont familials, etc. As the chef wandered downstairs, I sparked a conversation with the waiter and he asked, vous venez d'où exactement? I replied, les états-unis, je suis une américaine, I mentioned my Master, he joked about the difference between Lyon 2 and Lyon 3.
The joys of the Jardin des Dombes were over as quickly as they started and I waved as I left.
Experiences in life are as quickly as they start, c'est la vie, and so I realized in the little family restaurant up in the Croix Rousse that typical French family environment...
Also, word to the wise, the menu isn't translated. That way we know it's good.