A gloriously peaceful setting, relaxed and friendly service and stylish food at very affordable prices make Le Violette one of the most appealing new restaurants in Avignon.
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It occupies a corner of the large paved courtyard in front of the elegant 18th century mansions that now house the contemporary art of the Collection Lambert.
Formerly called the Metropolitan, this restaurant was relaunched under new management in 2016 following the renovation of the gallery.
Vastly expanded, the Collection Lambert is now a must-visit for anyone interested in cutting-edge modern art.
But you don't need to go into it to eat at Le Violette. The restaurant is open (except on Mondays), even when the gallery itself is closed: for lunch, drinks in the afternoon and dinner in the evening.
It can be best described as an unpretentious class act: a brilliant place to escape the heat, noise and crowds around the Palais des Papes.
The open-air terrace is sheltered from the wind and shaded from the sun by magnificent plane trees. When the weather is bad, you can decamp indoors to a small dining room with space for about 30 covers.
An excellent organic house wine (Domaine de Lansac, from the Alpilles) was available by the glass and all the bottles on the short list, almost all of them from the local area, were fairly priced.
Or you could try one of Le Violette's house cocktails or a homemade juice such as watermelon and strawberry or carrot and ginger.
New Age-y music played softly in the background as we nibbled on a free little amuse bouche (crisp slices of fennel with olive oil: simple but inspired on a hot August day).
In the background a steady stream of visitors posed for selfies alongside the enormous sculpture of the French football star Zinedine Zidane then on display in the courtyard.
But what about the food? Well, The chef previously worked at the Palais de Tokyo art gallery in Paris and so it's unsurprising that there's a strong oriental flavour to the line-up.
The summer menu included Thai-style tomato salad, beef tartare with sate sauce, caramelised pork and king prawns in red curry.
But you might equally find Mediterranean dishes such as hummus or melon with goat's cheese as well as a very good range of salads. Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for, as are finicky children with a special kids' meal (steak and chips, ice-cream).
We'd been warned that Le Violette was a bit expensive but the plat du jour (dish of the day), available at weekday lunch, was no more than you might pay at an ordinary high-street brasserie.
On our visit it was tasty chicken kebabs with rice, a Japanese relish and stir fry vegetables, pictured, and we thought it very good value.
Half a dozen desserts (ice creams, fruit-based dishes, pâtisseries) looked mighty tempting but we didn't have space or time to try them. An excellent excuse for a return visit next time we're in town.
Visited August 2016
Where: Le Violette, La Collection Lambert, 5 rue Violette, 84000 Avignon. Tel: (+33) 4 90 85 36 42.