La Mère Brazier has won the Enduring Classic category, for exceptional restaurants open for at least 50 years.
Eugénie Brazier, the mother of French cooking, died in 1977, but in Lyon, where she forged her reputation, her legacy has never been forgotten. It lives on at La Mère Brazier, the multi-award-winning restaurant she opened in 1921 at the age of 26, which was revived in 2008 by Mathieu Viannay. Despite the pressure of such a legacy, he has made the restaurant thrive once again.
Viannay restored the original tiles, preserved the signage and mullioned windows and hung the walls with black-and-white archive photography. And Brazier’s best-known dish, Poularde de Bresse demi-deuil (‘chicken in half mourning’) – a whole chicken with slices of black truffle layered between skin and flesh – remains on the menu in truffle season, along with a number of her iconic dishes.
But while retaining much of the history of the place, Viannay has added some innovative touches to the menu, such as fricassée of abalone, hazelnuts, Jerusalem artichoke and nashi pear; buckwheat galette with oyster, andouille and caviar; and sablé Breton with confit yuzu, mandarin sorbet and kalamani cream.
“People were expecting me to fall on my face,” says Viannay, but he has pulled it off with a vengeance.