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Restaurants & Bars 18

Chez Etienne in Marseille-Hit The Spot-In Spite of Feeling Like the Elephant Man

enofile | Feb 15, 201505:38 AM

[Note: We've edited the wording of the title slightly at the request of enofile. -- The Chowhound Team]

It was rainy and freezing cold in Marseille as we strolled around the Panier (Marseille's Old Town) taking pictures and trying to enjoy ourselves. We stepped into Chez Etienne as a refuge and after reading reviews of their pizza. The place was crowded with suits and business folks, a good sign for such a simple and modest restaurant. It looked more like a Taverna then a restaurant, but with its own rustic charm. A very friendly and welcoming man came up to us with a smile, spoke English immediately, destroying our sense of looking cooly local, and sat us at a lousy table next to a column, away from the masses. Usually, this tourist segregation (I felt like the Count of Monte Christo exiled to Chateau d'If) would make me protest and demand to be seated with those French folks, but I was too cold and wet to stand up for my lack of being indigenous. (Maybe I'm just getting old) We received a menu in French and a menu in English and ordered two grilled Calimari and an extra large pizza. The service was very pleasant, but my sense of "sitting in the back of the bus" became heightened when a solo English speaking older (She was probably younger then me, but I'm very immature) woman was "sat" at our table. One of the reasons I can't stand Bed and Breakfasts is the forced intimacy at breakfast when you are compelled to sit with strangers. This provided that same awkward feeling, and I was not about to strike up conversation with this poor soul because "I don't want to!" She spent an anonymous lunch writing in her journal, ate fast and left. The grilled Calamari arrived quickly with some very good bread and was delicious. Actually, the squid was some of the best I have ever eaten and was not drowned in excessive butter and garlic like they often do in the USA. The pizza arrived and it was good, not great, but I'm very particular about pizza coming from New York and all that. The bill was around 50 Euros for a very good lunch.

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