Friday, May 11, 2007

Avignon, France

Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse, l'on y danse
Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse tous en rond
Avignon wasn't always packed with tourists. Just since 1309. Things changed a bit after Pope Clement V set up house.

On our first night in the walkable old city, we hoped to avoid the crowds. V and I wanted to go somewhere special for dinner. Something that didn't feel touristy.

After wandering around for a while, we found Le Coin Caché (The Hidden Corner), a place just behind the Palais des Papes on the Place Cloître St. Pierre.
The restaurant is on a pretty little square filled with tables from a few restaurants that reside there. The tables themselves are a bit unstable, with green, chipped paint. We like them. They felt very French.

The restaurant's host was a friendly young man who recited the menu to us. The menu is only written on the chalkboard, but we couldn't remember everything and hadn't decided when we sat down.

V started with a creamy avocado puree topped with a rillette de crabe and dill for € 8.00. There were marinated red peppers and a small salad on the side. It was a nice refreshing starter. We dipped some of the nice bread on the table into the avocado and crab.

V liked the light oil and vinegar dressing on the salad. Although it was very simple, she said she hasn't been able to make a dressing herself that tastes quite the same.

I had the tomato muffin with eggplant caviar and pesto and a small salad, also for € 8.00. When I ordered it, I thought it might be a tarte of some kind, but it was actually a corn muffin, studded with chunks of dried tomato. The eggplant was flavorful. I haven't had anything quite like it before.

For a main course, I had Le Coin Caché's shrimp moussaka. Four shrimp with stewed tomatoes and caramelized onions sit beneath a layer of eggplant, baked in a square dish.

It was OK, but the shrimp were relatively small and a bit overcooked. Also, the dish itself was fairly small. It was € 17.00.

V picked the real winner. She had the scallop served over squid ink risotto with wok-fried zucchini and carrot. The scallops were nicely seared and fresh.

The sauce was lightly sweet, but we couldn't figure out exactly what it was. The host was too busy to ask. I thought that it tasted like hazelnuts, but V didn't think so. I also thought there was a bit of coconut milk. The dish was also € 17.00.

We decided to split one dessert -- the mille-feuille with chocolate and white chocolate cream for € 6.00. It was actually just trois-feuille -- three crispy leaves sandwiching something along the lines of flavored whipped cream.

During our meal, we were entertained by two gentlemen who took turns playing the accordion. I found the music pleasant.

One thing about it made me laugh. I recently learned how to play "Besame Mucho" on guitar. Since that time, I have been hearing that song almost everywhere I go. Including this night on the Place Cloître St. Pierre.

It is really a pretty spot. It is right beneath the walls of an old church. There are also apartments above it with cute green terrace gardens.

The final bill was for the food and drink was € 66.00. We enjoyed just about everything, It wasn't a lot of food for the money, but the beautiful square and the friendly host made us feel it was well worth the cost.

There is no getting around the fact that restaurant dining in France, even at many average places, can be an expensive proposition. If you are American, thinking about the cost of a dinner in dollar terms these days will just crush your soul.

So, don't do it. The pope left town a long time ago.

Le Coin Caché
3 Place Cloître St. Pierre
8400 Avignon, France
Tel. (+33) 04 90 82 07 31


Anonymous said...

is a very bad restaurant, very dirty, and often closed for many probleme with the autority of the town for idrty use work

Brewsta said...

We had no problems when we ate here.

It would be helpful if you gave more background on how and why you know this information. How did you know it has been often closed?

I'm wondering why you specifically searched for this restaurant on Google today, found this site, and then left such a negative comment.