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“Fabulous Lunch on the Terrace”

Restaurant Christian Etienne
Ranked #45 of 638 Restaurants in Avignon
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: French
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Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Business meetings, Local cuisine, Special Occasion Dining
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, After-hours, Reservations
Description: Set next to Avignon's magnificent Palace of the Popes, Restaurant Christian Etienne is a divine dining destination with sweeping views of the city and of the Rhone valley. Michelin-starred chef Christian Etienne is passionate about food, and his seasonal menu – themed on tomatoes in summer, truffles in winter, asparagus in spring and mushrooms in autumn – has been inspired by the kitchens of his mother and grandmothers. This is a sensational spot for meals with a view, and the food certainly lives up to the restaurant's stunning setting. Etienne's signature dish is the roasted lobster claws served with asparagus and a confit of fresh ginger root and sesame seeds, and the restaurant has a superb Cote du Rhone-led wine list.
Reviewed 14 May 2014

The previous May 4 review is very accurate on the general food quality and descriptions of this well run, superb restaurant. The fact that he relayed his experience with his young children only adds to our admiration of this first class establishment. Granted, it is a risk in our opinion to dine in such a precise atmosphere as a one star restaurant and perhaps be subjected to rambunctious possibilities, however I was relieved to hear that at this restaurant they seem to go out of their way to make such a scenario possible.
Our experience was superb from the food to the attentive and ample service. We felt comfortable the moment we arrived and after the first aperitif, the show of gastronomy commenced in a fluid seven course Printemps menu fashion.
A memorable culinary event never to be forgotten.
Merci bien a tous!

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1  Thank bnc2oths
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 5 May 2014

We're Americans who are lucky enough to call Avignon home and despite passing this restaurant frequently, we had never dared try is as we have a 1 and 2 year old. However, on my birthday, on a stroll searching out a restaurant for my birthday lunch, Etienne attracted me like a bee to a hive. I knew it had a Michelin star and as a former cook at one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurants, that star actually means something too me (the amount of work and hours it takes to get one sauce absolutely perfect, let alone an entire meal is something I can appreciate.)

I left my wife and the little ones outside as I ventured cautiously up the stairs to enquire if it might be possible to accommodate us. I warned them that we had two little ones. They said, "bien sur!" I wisely suggested that we sit on the terrance so as to not disturb the elegant ambience of the interior (after all, the food was why I was there, not the tablecloths!) The terrance, not completely set up for the lunch service yet, was quickly prepared: our table readied, child-seats installed, water glasses setup in a symmetrical and beautiful arrangement, fresh flowers placed upon the table et voilà.

The amuse bouche arrived with a cold, glass bottle of Evian, which was quickly poured. Since it was lunch, we were outdoors in effectively our backyard that is Avignon, a rosé wine seemed appropriate. I asked for a by-the-glass recommendation and we were disappointed with it not at all! It was incredible, dry and sturdy while still refreshing. Seriously good.

The little ones began to get a bit antsy and my wife and I were filled with anxiety. "Oh my gosh, have we made a mistake?" Mais, non -- the bread soon arrived, a basket filled with a variety of amazing choices (The onion bread was particularly delightful.) The little ones got into the thrill of it, especially after enjoying some of the ice cold water and the fresh juice thoughtfully brought to the table. Their children's dish arrived quickly and it was a devine whitefish with sautéed vegetables that they loved.

There's always a fear with little ones in nice restaurants. Some people would be angry an irritated that we'd subject a restaurant to our little ones, however, in France, there are high expectations for children at mealtimes and how will they ever learn without the opportunity? Of course, we're always prepared to quickly take an a disruptive child outside before it becomes a problem. However, my big fear was that a stereotypically French waiter would scoff at us. At Christian Etienne, however, our little ones were welcomed with open arms!

Now, onto the food. It was insane. It reminded me much of Thomas Keller -- tiny portions with a large number of courses. You had just enough of each dish to be satisfied but not so much that it ruined the next course. We had the Grand Palais menu and it was superb. The main dishes were fantastic, the cheese course featured the chance to choose whatever you wanted from an enormous cheese cart -- all elegantly arranged tableside. Then there was a pre-desert. Then a desert. A pre-desert! How cool is that? I won't subject you to the food porn that is my bite-by-bite report, however everything was sensationally presented, not pretentious, despite the Michelin star and the service was almost invisible, but perfectly timed and attuned to your exact need. You left completely satisfied, however not uncomfortably stuffed.

As Avignon is "our" town and this restaurant is mere steps from our house and going there was spur-of-the-moment, I was dressed in jeans, sneakers and was pretty casual, yet never once did I feel out of place, not did the restaurant frown upon us for not being "haute" enough. In fact, Mr. Etienne himself came out to our table to wish me a happy birthday -- even though I had just casually mentioned it to the waiter upon our arrival. Our stroller was stashed in the restaurant cloakroom and when we were leaving Mr. Etienne actually retrieved it for us! A Michelin-strar chef helping customers with a stroller! I can't wait to go back and perhaps beg him to let me work in his kitchen some afternoon to learn some new things.

Here's the short of it: brilliant food, expensive (but a good value,) impeccable service without being obvious, family friendly (but obviously use your best judgement when it comes to if your kids can handle a 2 hour meal,) and an incredibly nice staff, from the lowest level employee all the way up to the owner/chef.

We are able to speak intermediate level French, so I'm not sure about how easy this restaurant would be for an English-only speaker, but I think if you don't have too many questions, just point at one of the "Menus" and just go with it (trust the chef.. it'll be fantastic) then language needn't be a concern. Don't obsess over the composition of each dish, just sit back and bask in this incredible French experience. The folks that might have a difficult time at this restaurant (or any French restaurant for that matter) are the ones that want to quibble over every aspect of the food before they even order. If you have a particular food allergy (and don't speak French) you might want to print the French phase for it on a piece of paper -- but other than a particular serious health reason -- don't waste your time trying to substitute this for that. Don't ask for "less salt" or "reduced fat whatever" -- if you're so special-needs that you can't splurge just once, then you ought to go back to eating the creamed spinach and white bread with butter-flavored "spread" they serve you at the old-folks home, perhaps make yourself some Jello and chase it with a bit of prune juice. The food is designed to be eaten in the specific order and with the specific ingredients with which it is prepared -- to remove an element would be like editing out 15 minutes from the middle of a movie. You might still enjoy it, but you miss out on an important part of the experience.

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9  Thank Superacidjax
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 April 2014

It was our first experience eating in a one star Michelin rated restaurant and it was a delightful evening. The chef was very friendly. He greeted us and took our coats. Not lot of English was spoken, but we got by. We had a seven course price fixed meal for 80 Euros each and the food was very nicely presented and very good. My first time for eating rooster and the sole was wrapped in an interesting fashion. Seven courses and some extras added. We left full happy and about 225 Euros poorer for the evening, but it was a great way to end our 3 day stay in Avignon. we spent about 2 and a half hours there eating an excellent meal with some wine.If the prices do not scare you, the food most certainly will not.

Thank Scotty65Md
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 March 2014

I'm sure the other reviewers are correct about how wonderful the food is here. Unfortunately we never found out. This review is about the welcome and service.

We arrived for our 8'oclock reservation booked by the Hotel Europe. We were dressed appropriately. The Maître d seated the party ahead of us in the half full main dining room then escorted us to a separate, completely empty room.

We checked out coats with a nice women.

We sat by ourselves until the women who took our coats appeared with our menus. Hmm... Then when we asked if she had an english menu, she let us know she didn't speak english. Fair enough, "do you mind send someone over who can?" Time passes and the coat check lady returns with the wine list and then our amuse-bouche; each time we keep asking for someone who can speak english.

In the mean time in our completely empty room we can hear the hustle and bustle of the other dining room. We looked in and saw multiple waiters and waitresses attending to these tables.

We couldn't figure out whether the coat check women was actually our waitress, or we had yet to see a wait person, but the vibe we got was of being sent to the kids corner.

Perhaps our expectations of service in a Michelin starred restaurant were too high. But when no one who seemed to interested in helping us we decided to take our business elsewhere.

Just to note this is the first time in our 50+ years either of us have walked out on a restaurant.

We hope they treat you better.

    • Service
7  Thank K&SRanch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 January 2014

During our Michelin star cuisine tour in south france we finished the tour at Avignon and visited Chrisitan Etienne's historical place. I choose the tomato menu and was surprised how much stuff you can make with tomato's. Even the dessert included tomato's. The atmosphere and service was excellent.

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

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