In the latest edition of "places I used to frequent", we paid a visit to Provence Marinaside today. Joining me were Whipping Girl and Vandelay. Yes, it's Vandelay, after a long absence. You see, he and Donna Chang just had their first child - a boy! Congrats to them! Talking about absences, I haven't been back to Provence since I had moved from downtown 4 years ago. In fact, the reason we dined at Provence so often was that I lived in the same complex. Funny thing, it's the same complex that Daniel Sedin lived in. One time I saw him stroll out to the common driveway we shared with the complex beside us to meet up with Henrik who was driving... you guessed it, a Volvo! Let's just say they were better neighbours than Donald Brashear. He would mistaken the parkade for a go-kart track.
I arrived a bit early with Whipping Girl and Vandelay arriving shortly after. While I was waiting, I took the opportunity to peruse the menu and noticed that they had a 3-course lunch for $25.00. It seems like quite a few restaurants offer set menus for lunch and dinner these days. It almost defeats the purpose of Dine-Out. Anyways, we all decided to share an Antipasti platter with 3 items. There is a display case at the entrance with different antipastos which you can choose from. We settled on the Squid, Artichoke Hearts and Mushrooms. Served hot, the antipasti was really good. The grilled squid was perfectly cooked being a bit chewy and buttery soft at the same time. Don't ask me how that can be, but it was. The mushrooms (button, oyster and Portobello) were cooked just right, while the artichoke hearts equally good. For me at least, I find that $5.00 per item is a very reasonable price.
The dish that caught my eye was the Bouillabaisse consisting of potatoes, scallops, mussels, clams, salmon and halibut in a lobster broth. Served on the side were Gruyère, croutons and what I believe was lobster mayo. The Gruyère was meant to be mixed into the lobster broth when all the seafood had been finished. I gotta tell you, the broth was aromatic, a bit salty and with the Gruyère, I was making all sorts of suggestive noises. The seafood itself was just cooked allowing the natural sweetness to come to the forefront. The fish was also perfectly cooked with a good balance of tender meatiness.
Whipping Girl loves mussels. No, not Jean Claude Van-Damme. Well, he ain't muscular anymore anyways. Saw him at Victoria Restaurant a few times and he's got more of a one-pack than a six-pack. Rather, she loves steamed mussels. There was no doubt what she was going to order -
Steamed Mussels with White Wine and Cream. I didn't bother trying any mussels because I had some in my own dish; but I did sample the broth and it was delicious. A good combination of wine, cream, onions and herbs. It was flavourful; yet wasn't too strong that it was overpowering.
Going in a completely different direction, Vandelay ordered the Cannelloni. It arrived piping hot. I sampled a good chunk and the sauce was a bit tart and the beef was very moist. Maybe a bit too moist because it was quite loose and hard to eat. Otherwise, this was a pretty pedestrian dish. It was accompanied by a side salad.
Yet another solid meal at Provence. I find that during brunch and lunch, the food is pretty good for the prices that they charge. However, Dinner is a bit pricey for the portions that you get. The service was both attentive and friendly. Our server was quite pleasant; albeit he had this James Spader thing going with humongous 80's glasses. I know it's not polite to stare; but we did. Another plus is it's location. Situated right at the marina on False Creek, there is somewhat of a view and lots of light. Sitting outside on a nice sunny day, you can really soak in what Vancouver is all about. Mind you in Yaletown, you might only get a glimpse of what Vancouver is all about. Hey, you might even spot one of the Sedin twins in their Volvo!
- Reasonable prices (Brunch & Lunch)
- Pretty good food
- Excellent location
- Flavours could be a bit more bold
- Dinner is not as good of a value as lunch