Step inside Bar Lyon on most evenings and you’ll find yourself thrust into a swoon-worthy bistro environment; couples canoodle and exchange glances over dessert while groups chat away at the bar, scoping out which tables might be turning over next. The early popularity of this South End newcomer is testament to the talents of chef-owner Jamie Mammano and his Columbus Hospitality Group (Mistral, Sorellina).
While Bar Lyon will never be mistaken for one of its namesake city’s famed bouchons—humble, affordable restaurants that were established hundreds of years ago to sustain laborers through a grueling workday—Mammano and his team do a commendable job working some gussied-up bistro classics into their menu.
Start with an order of gougères, little balls of choux pastry that are packed with Gruyère and bacon and fried to perfection. The sinfully smooth chicken liver parfait is another wise choice, as are the très-traditional escargots, dripping with garlic butter and herbs and served in a searing cast-iron dish. In fact, Bar Lyon’s appetizers are so strong—from a crisp-skinned duck confit and traditional steak tartare to steaming French onion soup served in a copper pot—that there’s no fault in saving the entrees for another visit.
For good measure, toss in an order of the quenelles, custard-like dumplings made from freshwater pike that strike a balance between wildly rich and delicately airy. The pillowy mounds melt in your mouth, and you’ll likely find yourself scrambling to rip off pieces of spongy bread to dunk in the buttery lobster velouté studded with crayfish tails. Meet Boston’s newest must-have fish dish.
The balanced menu features plenty of heartier options—most notably “Le Burger,” a savory umami bomb topped with pork belly and a sunny-side egg—best saved for colder weather, or second dates.
Keep the romantic vibes going by exploring the bar program. Order a glass from the all-French wine list or kick things up a notch with a cocktail like the Bon Temps, an easy-drinking blend of rye, sherry, crème de banana, orange bitters and cacao, or the gin-based La Belle France, made with apple brandy, grenadine and egg white.
With its bustling open kitchen and friendly, well-intentioned staff, Bar Lyon gives off a welcoming, cozy vibe that most Boston bistros can only dream of. Throw in reasonable prices, come-as-you-are ambience and crowd pleasing French fare—not to mention the always-present South Enders who have already made this their weekly go-to—and it’s easy to see: Mammano and his crew are giving the people what they want.