French (Provence) Restaurant in Avignon, France: La Fourchette Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

La Fourchette
Restaurants and bars
Open: Lunch and dinner Mon - Fri
Price: Moderate

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Phone Number: +33 4 90 85 20 93
Address: 17 rue Racine
Avignon, Provence
Country: France
Food Style: French (Provence)

There are some restaurants where the little signals make you certain that you are going to experience seriously good food. At La Fourchette, one of the signals for us was the staff and the chef sitting at the marble-topped table just inside the door late in the morning obviously enjoying a meal together prior to service. Another signal was the bread and dips on the same table ready for service when we arrived for our meal about an hour later.
This is a place that cares about food and cares about its customers (as also evidenced by the number of locals that seem to dine here very regularly).
The restaurant décor is quirky without being over the top. The walls are festooned with cicadas, forks (fourchette), ladles (louche) and other cutlery as well as with a historical display of the stunning posters advertising the Avignon festival.
However we like to concentrate of the food and wine and we believe that this is one of those great places where you can come to relax as well as to experience some of the finest examples of Provencal cuisine that you will find in the region. Whether you are seeking the definitive Vaucluse caillettes or a great Avignon daube or a great rendition of fabulous pieds et paquets, then this is a must-visit restaurant.
The caillettes that we have now tried on two separate occasions are as close to perfection for this dish as it possible to achieve. Finely minced pork is mixed with either spinach or the local blette (similar to Swiss chard) and other Provencal herbs formed into a ball, wrapped in caul and then baked. They are brought to the table accompanied by a simple salad and are light, packed with flavour and totally delicious.
Other dishes we have enjoyed here include a fabulous hot foie gras dish accompanied by slices of endive and scattered with pink peppercorns, a stunning pure-white, moist, chicken breast strewn with sorrel leaves and accompanied by a parsley sauce and one of the best daubes (served in a copper pot) accompanied by a gratin of macaroni that we have ever tasted.
We also believe that the "Les pieds et paquets a la Provencale" which is one of the specialties of the region between Avignon and Marseille is a perfect example of how the dish should be prepared and presented. A lovely gelatinous sheep's foot and a substantial packet of stuffed stomach was simply presented on a white plate for our enjoyment. It was the best example of this dish that we have tried.
The service is friendly and attentive and very forgiving of our poor French language skills. The wine list is interesting without being extensive with lots of excellent Rhone wines and local appellations such as Cotes du Ventoux and Cotes du Luberon to explore.
The desserts are also very good with a crème brulee served in a shallow dish being close to perfect and an apple tart memorable.
On a visit in 2010 everything was the same from the service point of view but we felt that the food lacked the sparkle that we have described from previous visits. We will visit again in a few months time to see if it was just a bad day.
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