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“Loved this Place”

L'Etoile Restaurant
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Ranked #17 of 997 Restaurants in Madison
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $25 - $100
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Local cuisine, Special occasions
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Cross street: East Washington
Nashville, Tennessee
Level 6 Contributor
304 reviews
222 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
“Loved this Place”
Reviewed August 24, 2013

One of the best meals I have ever had. The food was exceptional and the staff helpful and friendly. They have a wine course with every dish so that was a nice treat to taste different wines as well. I had the Prosciutto with Melon infused with Kimche juice, then the Corn Chowder followed by the Grouper with Cajun Shrimp. All were outstanding. The person with me raved about their food as well. They said the pork chop was the best they ever had. The restaurant has wonderful ambiance and view of the capitol building. Do not miss this restaurant while in Madison. You will be delighted.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank rkaemp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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308 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Chapel Hill
Level 6 Contributor
266 reviews
153 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 204 helpful votes
“Overpriced, pretentious. Spend your money elsewhere.”
Reviewed August 19, 2013

The short version: For this money, this restaurant should be among the best in the US, and it's not. Not even the best in WI. Service was stuffy, food came out incorrectly, timing was way off, and the setting is modern, loud, and not romantic.

Details: We arrived early, hoping to have a drink at the bar. However, they serve their whole menu to walk-ins at the bar, so there isn't typically anywhere to have a drink. We noted six open two tops, including two in the window. We walked around for half an hour until our reservation time, only to be offered one of the tables that had been open when we first showed up. I understand the need to space seatings for the kitchen, but really?!? It would have been far better to let us sit down and have a drink.

Then to those drinks. We had several very specific questions for our waiter, who gave odd answers but, when we asked for him to get clarification, wasn't willing to; he's been there plenty of time and can answer our questions. However, my husband's drink came out in a champagne coupe glass instead of neat in an old fashioned glass (as the menu had stated), and the lemon rind had not been toasted. Mine was as expected; however, they were poured at the table, and neither glass was large enough to hold the liquid. The pretentious waiter told us to take a gulp and that he would then refill our glasses with the rest. What?!? Gulp a cocktail? Have these people never heard of sidecars?!? He then stood there disdainfully until we finished enough that he could pour the rest into our glasses.

We were also looking for a bottle of wine. We ended up not ordering one based on the bland, inconsistent, poor descriptions our waiter could offer - all the while, acting as though it was our fault we couldn't tell between the wines when he only used the same two adjectives to describe all of them. We settled on two glasses we could get a taste of since asking obviously didn't do any good.

Once we managed to order - which took more than an hour, hence why seating us early would have been just fine - our food came out incorrectly. My husband ordered the cantaloupe kimchee; he was brought the pork belly instead. After being told the corn soup could be split - with all the scallops and chorizo going to my husband, and only the vegetarian accouterments coming to me - we were brought two bowls, both of which had meat and fish in them. The evening was like one bad joke after another - and it didn't get any better.

Nothing on the dessert menu looked especially good, but the creme brulee looked like it might be interesting. However, I like my creme brulee without chunks. We specifically asked our waiter if there were pieces or chunks in the creme brulee, or if was just flavored. Without going back to check, he said it was just steeped and flavored, that it was smooth. Well, big surprise, wrong again: the brulee came out having been done early (the sugar was mushy and cold, rather than crisp and warm), and with chunks. Apology when this was pointed out? Nope. Taken off our check? Nope.

I have absolutely no idea how this restaurant ranks so highly except if people in Madison don't get out of town at all. The food wasn't particularly interesting for anywhere with a decent farmer's market, the service was abysmal all the way around, and it is severely overpriced for what was offered. I will pay for good food; I will pay for good service. This place has neither. Our bill for two cocktails, two glasses of wine, three appetizers, one entree, and one dessert before tip was over $160. I can't see paying this for pretentious service that doesn't know what they're talking about and for barely-above average food that comes out wrong. Save your money and go elsewhere.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
4 Thank helsimon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“nice dining”
Reviewed August 15, 2013

Very nice restaurant when you want a fancy night out with interesting meal options. All the food is beautifully prepared and presented. The service was knowledgeable and friendly. My husband has a fish allergy and he made that known when we made the reservation. We were very impressed when on arrival, our server was aware of the allergy and carefully went over the menu to point out dishes that may have fish stock or fish ingredients. Even our amuse bouche was specially prepared just for him. The restaurant is fancy but NOT stuffy. The dress code is anything from jeans and flip flops to sparkly dress and high heals. and everything in between. Very comfortable fine dining.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank islandspot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Humble, Texas
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Fine food and great service made for a wonderful evening.”
Reviewed August 13, 2013

This restaurant was comfortable, had nice scenery (right on the Capital Square), was quiet enough to enjoy good conversation, had fabulous food, and service that was right there when you needed it, but not hovering over you to make you uncomfortable. The risotto and the squash blossom lasagna were out of this world delicious!

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Noreenbo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
28 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Best meal I've had in a long time”
Reviewed August 3, 2013 via mobile

We were in Madison for my friends birthday and decided to splurge and go to L'Etoile. Not only is it a beautiful restaurant right by the capital , it was a delightful experience from start to finish. We had a very well trained server named Hava who provided impeccable service with out being intrusive in any way. From the craft cocktails to the amuse, dessert and handmade truffles, it was an epicureans delight!!! The duck egg appetizer was one of the best things I have ever eaten, my husband said his duck was the best he has ever had. We travel a lot and this was one of the best dining experiences we have ever had. It is expensive, but definitley worth it for a special occasion. Ask for Hava, she definitley added to the experience.

Visited July 2013
Thank Katfish912
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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