The pretty little village of Ambronay, in the Ain region about 40 miles northeast of Lyon, may previously have been best known for its early medieval Benedictine abbey and its Baroque music festival, but with the opening of the good-value Le Comptoir des Moines, the bistrot annex of chef Ivan Lavaux’s excellent restaurant L’Auberge de l’Abbaye, its impressive culinary credentials are likely to attract an ever-growing number of smart gastronomes. To be sure, l’Auberge de l’Abbaye is a superb restaurant, but with most people counting their centimes these days, Le Comptoir des Moines has immediate appeal. Our simple two-course meal—Bresse chicken prepared bouillabaisse style and poached pear with salted-caramel ice cream—was a brilliant little feast.

Place des Anciens Combattants, Ambronay, €24 per person without wine

Originally published in the January 2009 issue of France Today

See our complete restaurant guide