le Train Bleu
Gare de Lyon
There’s something about a combination of splendor and decline that attracts me. Several weeks ago, someone invited me for a drink & suggested le Train Bleu as a meeting spot. This person scored major points for location – I love le Train Bleu. I love that this restaurant is tucked away in the Gare de Lyon & you have no idea of the over-the-top, old-school splendor hidden inside behind the bright bleu neon sign above the entrance. I love the painted & guilded ceilings, the numerous huge comfy chairs grouped in cozy, private arrangments, and the massive chandelier lighting. I even love the fact that my friend told me she saw a mouse there when she had lunch a few months ago. Le Train Bleu (built in 1900!) transports you to a fantastic & historic space. But, as much as I enjoy le Train Bleu, I would never eat there. And, as of last Wednesday, I will never order another cocktail there.
The first thing I noticed on the drinks menu is the statement that all cocktails are made with a base of concentrated fruit juice. Below the fruit juice disclaimer, 8 cocktail suggestions are offerred at 14 Euros each, includinig a Manhattan, Margarita and the epynomous Train Bleu (made with blue curacao & raspberry infused vodka). A classic martini was not on the menu and here’s what I got when I ordered one:
1/2 warm Bombay Sapphire and 1/2 warm Noilly Pratt (neither shaken, nor stirred, nor garnished & served in a highball glass). Matt ordered a Train Bleu, which actually turns out to be more of a green color and, as I commented, tastes like fruit punch or Koolaid. Matt ameneded “but bad.” And, “Bad Koolaid” is not a cocktail compliment. Violaine, who also joined us, ordered a more traditional French apero of Italian Martini sweet vermouth and probably was the most successful pick of the bunch even though she felt there was too much ice. We sipped our drinks while munching on decent bar snacks (olives, pickled garlic cloves & peanuts) but opted out of the usual second round. I’d say these were the two worst cocktails we’ve had on our search. But, as Matt and I agreed, even the “unsuccessful” nights are an enjoyable part of the cocktail adventures.
That said, i still love le Train Bleu and recommend a visit. Skip the 20 Euros club sandwiches and definitely pass on the cocktails. But, appreciate this truly impressive location over a glass of wine, beer, coffee or tea. As for the tea, they seem to have an extensive collection offered on their specialty tea menu. They offer tea tastings and sell it loose, as well. The coffees, beers and wine all fell within a reasonable price range, for the location, of 5 to 10 Euros (with one exception of a glass of Saint Emilion Grand Cru Chateau l’Hermitage Lescour at 12.50 Euros) So despite my horrendous martini, go there. Just don’t order the cocktails and watch out for rodents.