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Oct 27, 2008 02:51 PM

New Restaurant in Avignon, L'Essentiel

I found a new small restaurant in Avignon that is worthy of a visit. It is just across from the Church "Saint Agricol" at 2 Rue Petite Fusterie, and called "L'Essentiel."

At lunchtime they serve Tartines, a sort of sandwich, and I did not eat there at lunchtime. The formula is completely different at dinner, with a couple of set menus, each with choices for each course, and these menus change regularly. They are priced at around 26 and 37 euros each, which includes an entree, a main course, and a dessert. There's a good selection of wine on the wine list both by the bottle and several of each color by the glass. The food is tasty, well prepared, and shows creativity and class. Tables are comfortably spaced.

The staff is very welcoming and give good service. They are doing a good business for a place that has only been open for 8 months.

I ate here twice in 4 days and had a nice meal both times, with a very good price to value relationship. I had the more expensive menu both times. For appetizers I had the foie gras both times (very creative so I decided to have it again; served with a "confiture of olives," something I'd never had before, a sweet olives type preserve, which went well with the foie gras). For the main course I had the duck one time and the tuna the second; both were well prepared. For desserts I had both of them offered on the menu I chose, the chocolate cake and the baba.

For the price you will not do better in this town, now will you find a more welcoming reception.


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  1. Thanks for the current update to Avignon eats. Going Next Sept 09," making my list and checking it twice". Read eveything I can find on the recent threads , we'll see if it is till surviving next Oct. First trip to Provence, and Avignon. Found most accommodations and restaurants a bit on the expenseive side for a collective 45 day, three country excursion, but L'Essential seems do'able. I hang on contributors every word. Thanks all!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Crisco

      I have always found Avignon to be pretty affordable, altho I haven't been there in a couple of years. Yes, there are pricy accommodations and restaurants, but we've always found really affordable hotels, and that leaves more money for the food!

      1. re: Crisco

        Have you searched for Bed & Breakfast places (Chambres' d'hôtes) in the area? They are very lovely in many cases and also quite reasonable. Multiple night stays can also lead to discounted rates and renting for a whole week would save you having to find a new hotel every few days. You can easily make a good tour of Provence and Avignon by taking a B&B in the area and driving around from that central point -- we've done it twice in the past 3 years.

      2. Sounds good. Have you eaten at Hotel D'Europe?
        Surely not cheap but great spot when the weather is lovely and the food was quite good.

        Crisco, if you have 45 days to travel, I don't see how anything is expensive.
        If you are splurging(or realize how well off you are going on a 45 day vacation) you can hit the Hotel D'Europe for food(I am saying nothing of the rooms).
        And K Fox seems to have found this new gem, as well.

        Avignon rules! Though nice weather is key.

        1. Yes, really liked L'essential. The owner is absolutely charming. She was always interested to know if we liked what we got and when we did she would tell us that it was cooked by her husband. You could tell she was very proud. The food was really good, beautiful courtyard and not too expensive. She needs to let her staff do more of the work. I could see other diners weren't getting the same quality of serivce that we were.
          The other place we loved was La (le?) Fourchete. Absolutely terrific in every way. Again the owner was very very charming and helpful.

          3 Replies
            1. re: ChefJune

              A long time ago this was the "second restaurant" of Hiely Lucullus (sp?) which used to have a star. La Fourchette was ostensibly run by one of the children of the couple running the starred restaurant. I remember eating at Hiely with my parents about 30 years ago, for lunch. I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals of some sort that were not much more appropriate than flip flops in a starred restaurant at that point in time. We were walk-ins. I remember them seating us in a far corner, being careful to have me in the corner where other patrons might not notice my attire . . .Over the next 10 years or so I had occasion to eat there myself for dinner a few times, although always better dressed.

              The original owners that ran Hiely Lucullus (?sp) are certainly retired, dead, or both by this point, and I think that La Fourchette is no longer within that family, either.

              I tried a couple of times to get into La Fourchette within the last two years, well in advance. I tried to make reservations in the middle of the week, for dinner, as a single diner. Both times I was told that the restaurant was already fully booked for that evening, which seemed rather implausible at the time given the advance booking and the day of the week. I had the impression that they were turning me away because I was alone, and that they preferred to reserve tables for at least two people. It struck me as very "unFrench," something I've not experienced anywhere else in France. Of course, I could be wrong. But I have not tried to book there since those experiences.

              1. re: Ken Fox

                Hiely used to be a magical place, with the elegant streamlined decor and the Van Day Truex drawings on the wall; the refined cooking; and the great wines (both the house CNdPs in carafes and on the list). Hiely worked with the new owner after he sold, but when they started ripping things out and replacing them with faux-Louis, I lost interest.