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“Lovely French Country Restaurant!”

Le Lyonnais Restaurant
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Ranked #9 of 63 Restaurants in Acton
Price range: US$ 31 - US$ 50
Cuisines: French
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Reviewed 14 December 2014

Living in the Boston suburbs, where the word "restaurant" tends to be equated with pizza-joints or mall eateries that feel like big-box retailers, one of our favorite places for a special-occasion dinner is Le Lyonnais in Acton. For more than forty years, chef/owner Gerard Labrosse has served delectable French country-style meals to grateful local residents and travelers passing through. Le Lyonnais is the real thing! Turning off the main road, one feels like one has arrived at a lovely French inn or B&B in Provence or Lyon or Normandy. Behind the house, a sparkling mill-stream flows past vegetable gardens, and one can almost imagine sheep grazing nearby. Approaching what must be a centuries-old farmhouse, one is greeted by the aroma of garlic and fine spices! Entering through a family porch, even if one arrives without reservation, guests receive a friendly reception and are guided to a comfortable table in one of three different dining areas. The dining rooms are simple and unpretentious, but warm and charming. One dining room has a fireplace, another has lovely views of the stream and gardens outside. M. and Mme, Labrosse have created an atmosphere that is welcoming and seems calmly assured; photographs on the wall of Jacques Pepin, Julia Child, Seiji Ozawa and other friends, promise a dinner that will be delicious and authentic.

And most meals are! After seven or eight visits, my wife and I consider ourselves "regulars," and we are always delighted to return. The menu at Le Lyonnais is remarkably large for such an unpretentious, rural restaurant. It is full of authentically French classics (like escargots, cassoulet, sweetbreads, sole meuniere or amandine, veal bonne maman, duck l'orange, crepes (both savory and sweet), as well as pates and terrines) and it varies with the seasons. There are several prix-fixe dinners of three courses or more, and twenty-five or thirty entrees offered a-la-carte. The size of the menu is a hint that one should order carefully: how could such an unassuming restaurant possibly carry such a huge range of fresh ingredients, one wonders? Dishes that are in season are always fresh and delicious, but -- inevitably -- some of the more exotic fare must have been prepared in advance, frozen and served from the microwave. We have never been disappointed by a "daily special," or by a standard offering like French provincial roast chicken, salmon poached or grilled, beef tournedos with sauce bordelaise, or grilled filet of pork. However, venturing into more exotic territory we've occasionally been served a dish that has obviously been unevenly microwaved and that arrives with several temperatures on the plate. At such moments, waiters have always graciously returned the platter to the kitchen for additional heating. Our advice: order carefully from the large menu and tend toward simple fare rather than fancy!

Servings are large and generously accompanied by well-prepared vegetables or potatoes. The white beans in a recent autumn cassoulet were perfect in texture and flavor. A friend who chose paella at the same occasion was delighted by a large portion of lobster and many tender scallops and mussels embedded in a large fragrant serving rice that was delicately flavored with saffron. Classic French roast chicken is always succulent and fragrant with rosemary or tarragon; a single serving provides a filling meal at the restaurant and often finds its way home in a doggy-bag for a delicious cold lunch the next day. Salads and desserts are equally generous, and a single serving is often ample enough for two.

Le Lyonnais is a busy and hard-working establishment. It serves dinners five evenings a week (closed Sundays and Mondays), and lunch most days as well. Diners should check the schedule in advance and call for reservations. The restaurant is the perfect setting for small weddings or large family gatherings, and its dining rooms are arranged so they can easily be reserved for private parties. Prix-fixe meals and a-la-carte entrees are comfortably priced -- not at all excessive -- with many modest dishes available to diners on tight budgets. The wine list, though not huge, offers ample variety in all categories, with excellent selections by the bottle or the glass at all price levels. Le Lyonnais recently celebrated its 43rd anniversary with certain specialty dishes priced at only 43-cents!

It is always a pleasure to return to Le Lyonnais. At holidays like Christmas the flavorful meals are enhanced by the festive atmosphere of the dining rooms, and in springtime the restaurant and its surroundings are full of flowers. It's a wonderful setting for special occasions, and we hope Le Lyonnais will remain as welcoming and delicious for another forty years!

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Thank Peter G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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23 - 27 of 50 reviews

Reviewed 13 November 2014

This is a cozy and historic little place in an antique farmhouse, with a very friendly wait staff and a master French chef of the generation of Jacques Pepin and Julia Child. It has an extensive menu and long wine list. We come every year for our anniversary, and have an amazing meal every time. Never crowded, but weekends are busier than weekdays. An overlooked and endangered gem in a region rapidly ever more infested with chain restaurants and strip malls.

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Thank ChiangSaen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 November 2014

It has been quite some time since my husband and I "treated" ourselves to dinner at Le Lyonnais Restaurant. We considered ourselves lucky to be served without a reservation. The ambiance is interesting -- an old house that has a series of small rooms that provide a quiet and cozy atmosphere, sort of shabby chic without being froufrou.

The meal began with some good bread and a bottled oiive oil dip, which they acknowleged somehow -- can't recall whether it was a little sign on the table or a note on the menu. The menu was attractive and offered a number of choices.

Our appetizers and soup were quite good. However, both of our main courses were below what we expected, given the price, and we each commented upon leaving that we would not return unless it were for lunch. The fact that our appetizers were quite good led us to think that the restaurant might do better for lunch.

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2  Thank CarolynGNortheastUS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 October 2014

We had close to the worst dining experience of our lives at this restaurant on a weekday evening in October. We've travelled extensively in Europe and France, eating at a wide variety of restaurants, bistros and cafés. We're in no way food snobs. The food here was just awful.

There were maybe 15 people in total, most in a busy main room. We opted for the quieter "couples" area. The ambience and decor are rustic French. Not to everyone's taste, but we found it pleasant enough. The wines were fine. The first problem came with the first course.

We ordered the two set dinner menus and gave our selections to the waiter. All seemed to be going well. Bread came. Factory-produced bread, but that's a nit, we ignored it. After quite a wait - ok, we figured, they're putting effort and time into the food - the first course arrived. It was a cold paté for my wife and I had the terrine. Except I had salad. I mentioned this to the waiter, who asked me if maybe I expected something different from terrine. We discussed it a little further and eventually the waiter agreed this wasn't what I had ordered, took it away and came back with... the paté my wife had. It tasted like it was out of a shop bought can, in my opinion. My wife agreed. She described hers as "like a big lump of cold, tasteless fat".

It's ok, I said, let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe all the effort goes into the hot mains. We were to be disappointed. My wife had the chicken chasseur and I had the roast duck. The duck was tough and bland. The chicken, I'm told, had a texture and taste that was highly unappealing. Both courses had a variation of temperature throughout that was consistent with microwaving - maybe not the case, but that would be our guess.

The waiter returned to check on our progress. We mentioned that they were not to our taste. He enquired a little further and we came clean that we really didn't like them at all. I think that's the first time we've done that for decades. We gave up trying to eat the mains and he took them away. We asked for the check.

At this point the chef/manager arrived and tried to make things right. To his credit, the gentleman was clearly upset that we were not having a good dining experience and did what he could to try to rectify matters. Unfortunately this involved giving us more food, to the tune of a crème caramel and meringue - our third courses in the set meal. The meringues were effectively unpleasant with a consistency we didn't recognize as meringue and the crème caramel again tasted cheap, low quality and out of a packet.

We gave up after the first bite. The manager gave us a 25% discount on the meal and we cut our losses at $66... not a bargain, to say the least, even with the reduction. We honestly just wanted to go home.

As we left, we looked over to the French couple who were dining next to us. They had the Chateaubriand and, as far as we could tell, were enjoying it. So maybe we just had a bad meal. Maybe the kitchen had a bad night. Maybe they're struggling to cope with the number or pattern of customers - we guess some help and new blood in the kitchen might help. But whatever the cause, we won't be back and we'd discourage anyone from trying this place until things change for the better.

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4  Thank VivreGeorgesBrassens
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 June 2014

Le Lyonnais has a real french menu: cassoulets, potages, crepes, escargot and meats done in the French style. The even had a ris de veau recently, which is an outstanding dish and something you only want to eat in a French restaurant. The setting of the restaurant just off the road surrounded by a small garden, pond etc in a farmhouse building really makes it feel like an inn you would stop at somewhere in France. The food is very well prepared, had a bouillabaisse recently that was outstanding, and the seafood crepe was really over the top in terms of richness not to mention the portion size. Classic French deserts including l'isle flottant. Check it out, prices are reasonable and the wine list albeit small is more than adequate with good and reasonably priced bottles from both France and the new world.

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1  Thank cjmarkie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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