Provence

Provence, which is located on MacDougal between Prince and Houston, originally opened almost 20 years ago.  A walk in the door transported you to the country side of France.  I particularly loved the huge glass jar of pears marinating on the bar.  The food was good and so was the ambiance.  Staying open for that amount of time in NYC is impressive. 

Recently, ownership has changed hands. The team who owns Cookshop and Five Points have expanded their empire.  They took over the lease and have kept the brand.  They have redesigned the restaurant but in some ways it as if they just updated it.  French country with warm lighting and comfy banquettes and chairs.  I always loved the broken up rooms too.  The big front room that the bar looks over and the two different rooms in the back.  The restaurant feels small and intimate but actually they can sit more people than you think. 

The menu is simple.  Raw bar, charcuterie, Hors D’oeurves, main courses, side dishes, cheeses and desserts. The raw bar is front and center on the bar so  you can see how fresh the fish is.  We began with oysters and gulf shrimp.  All fresh and good.  The shrimp are big and delicious.  It was late so we only went with the main courses after that.  We both wanted the Grilled Striped Whole Bass which looked really good when we walked in, there was someone eating it.  After waiting awhile, they hostess came out and told us that the chef wasn’t happy with the fish and he didn’t want to serve it to us, could we pick something else?  A drag but it was late and the place was jammed.  We opted for the pan roasted wahoo.

A small piece of thick white fish grilled and crispy (without skin) on one side served over sauteed escarole.  The fish was okay and the escarole was really good.  We also had a side of grilled asparagus.  Large asparagus grilled with lots of taste.  As a whole, the food was just okay not great which I what I have found at the majority of their restaurants but I am still coming back to Provence for more.

The hostess did not charge us for the main courses or the first round of drinks due to the fact that they couldn’t serve us what we wanted.  That is pretty incredible.  It is certainly the right thing to do but that doesn’t mean it always happens.  As the new Provence is attempting to rebuild the loyal patrons, hey you can’t be around for 20 years without loyal patrons, they definitely made me want to come back for more.