Lyon's lamb shoulder rack is excellent and, at $20, extremely good value: Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN

Lyon Restaurant
10335 83 Ave. NW

no listed delivery service

Mon. to Sat. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., closed Sundays

Food:  4 of 5 Suns
Ambience:  4 of 5 Suns
Service: 3 of 5 Suns

Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tips and taxes:  Basic, $40; loaded, $90


Welcome back, Packrat Louie!

Lyon Restaurant is, in reality, the latest incarnation of the fabled Packrat Louie restaurant in the historic former warehouse in the heart of Old Strathcona.

Legendary Swiss chef Peter Johner opened Packrat in 1993. Its reputation, until recently, never faltered. Johner retired in 2006, selling the large restaurant (dining room, lounge, patio) to local investors represented by operating partner Jodh Singh.

Singh kept the Packrat Louie kitchen up to standards over the years through the judicious hiring of executive chefs – one of the most prominent being Jan Trittenbach.

Things went weird at Packrat’s about two years ago. After a major renovation it mysteriously closed, reopened as a South-Side version of the downtown Bottega 104, closed again … and has now re-opened as Lyon.

Lord knows what went on behind the scenes. But who cares, because Singh is back as the operating partner/manager and Trittenbach has returned as executive chef.

The ambience and atmosphere of Lyon is little changed from Packrat Louie days. The new menu is one of the very best I have ever seen — an insightful, careful interplay between conventional Edmonton sit-down dishes and imaginative French countryside cooking. All, I might add, at most reasonable prices. Packrat’s famous pizzas and flatbreads remain in place.

We start with garden beignets ($11). Dessert beignets — a sophisticated Timbit — have been popularized by the downtown Marc Restaurant. Lyon’s garden beignet replaces sweet with savory in the light pastry ball, stuffs it with pureed veggies and herbs, and after a light hot-oil dip, dusts them with parmesan and an excellent green goddess dip. This is something new, interesting, different but not outlandish.

Savoury “garden” beignets are stuffed with pureed greens.

The gourmand salad ($12)  mixes shredded duck confit and a taste of foie gras into a bed of  butter lettuce and candied hazelnuts, with a cool, soft lemon/garlic vinaigrette. There’s a lot going on here, a symphony of harmonious flavours that represents the very best of Trittenbach’s culinary style.

Shredded duck confit, foie gras and candied hazelnuts complete a Lyon’s gourmande salad.

The entrees were equally interesting.

A shoulder rack of lamb is magnificent in taste, texture and value – $20 for some 10 ounces of succulent lamb, cut after cooking into four chops. The shoulder isn’t as tender as a lamb loin rack, but has more inherent taste with its red wine reduction, perfect internal temperature and crust. The Trittenbach touch was an accompanying spicy tomato chutney, making every bite a joy.

The pan-seared rich and generous-sized  sturgeon filet managed – rare for fish – to be very much enhanced by a sturdy basil crust, a bed of sweet corn succotash and a candied lemon slice. For such diverse flavours to work so well with fish is, once again, a tribute to the chef. At $20, it’s the best fish in that price range to be had in the city.

Chef Jan Trittenbach’s touches around this sturgeon filet are masterful.

Lyon offers entrée sides on separate plates for an extra $5 to $8 – still well below what other casual fine-dining restaurants are charging for similar fare.

It was in these sides and dessert that the restaurant gently faltered – the eggplant fritters were dull, the interiors mushy.  The escargot spaetzle noodles were fine, gently oily with a lovely sweet from caramelized onion, but the escargots themselves were shrivelled and sparse. The pie shell in the cherry compote dessert tart was a tad soggy, the cherry “jam” uninspiring.

Minor faults: That such fine food is coming from a kitchen just two weeks open bodes well for the future. The entire experience – dining so well, watching Fringe crowds ebb and flow outside the big windows – was reminiscent of past French countryside holidays.

Much more work, however, is needed on staff training. These are young waiters with no knowledge of what they are serving. Their table-side manners border on indifference. Bring back those seasoned, gracious servers from Packrat Louie’s glory days!


• Mysterious that the most vegan of vegetarian restaurants, Noorish on 109 Street north of 82 Avenue, should be shutting down. Noorish was hard-core vegan way before the current craze.

• The Homefire Grill delivered a splendid four-course dinner at the home of Judge Jody Fraser – a package donated by Homefire Grill to the 2018 Sun Christmas Charity Auction, with yours truly present as server. The highlight was sliced venison flank steak, packed with flavour thanks to a saskatoon berry/balsamic jus and bannock stuffing. Well done chef Kyle Duncan and assistant chef Kristian Bjornson.

• Two restaurants were missed in the Weekly Dish’s summer where-to-eat round-up – the superb beer & sausage emporium Otto on 95 Street, and St. Albert’s Riverside Bistro