LA PROVENCE, Adelaide
*SINCE WRITING THIS, LA PROVENCE HAS NOW CLOSED*
La Provence – it’s the new French restaurant in Adelaide’s CBD occupying the space of my former favourite Chinese restaurant, From Orient. I was pretty excited when I found out that it’s another venture from chef Tarik Marco who’s also responsible for Le Mistral in Willunga that I’ve enjoyed. Tarik’s food philosophy is based on a quote from Alain Ducasse ‘Simple Sain et Bon’ meaning ’Simple Healthy and Tasty’. While Le Mistral is serving regional, rustic French food, the menu at La Provence is more refined and focuses on the cuisine of southern France. It’s more French fine dining, but not at all stuffy or formal.
Tarik is currently sharing his time between the two restaurants but has employed Chris Matuhina as head chef, who’s worked at both Chloe’s and Magill Estate (Penfolds). The menu reads well – one of those menus where I’d really like to be able to say “I’ll have one of everything please!” You can just order off the a la carte menu or there’s a set price menu of $69 for 3 courses. Set price, yes, but if you choose to include one of the more ‘premium’ mains, you’ll need to add a little extra to the cost, e.g. the Cote de Boeuf or the Bouillabaisse (add on an extra $6). Regardless, it’s a good option.
“A Taste of Duck” was the obvious entrée for me. A plate of rillettes, sausage, foie gras, duck ham, duck crackling with pickled condiments and jus gras vinaigrette. Is your mouth watering? Duck lovers rejoice. I enjoyed everything on this plate. I don’t think I’ve ever seen duck crackling before – but I certainly want to see it again! An excellent start.
The Pan fried red mullet with ratatouille, brandade puff, red pepper sauce, saffron aioli and fried garlic was equally as good. Such a pretty, colourful fish and dish, and another thing I’ve never had before – the brandade puff – it was light and delicious.
My dining partner had the SA Pasture fed chicken wrapped in streaky bacon and slow cooked with herb couscous, egg, shaved chicken skin and tarragon sauce. She wouldn’t usually order a chicken dish (neither would I) but it did sound pretty appealing. She was happy when it arrived – it’s breast meat but so incredibly juicy.
For me, the absolute winner was the Bouillabaisse inspired Provencale fish soup of local seafood – garfish, prawns, Goolwa pipis, mussels, scallop and fish, served with rouille and garlic croutons. WOW! I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since! Such a gutsy broth with an abundance of excellent quality seafood. Not a cheap dish at $43 but in my humble opinion, worth every cent.
And then to finish, the Raspberry soufflé with Champagne ice cream and raspberry sauce. Just as good as the Grand Marnier soufflé that I had at Le Mistral. Creamy, light, airy, gorgeous. It’s a must, and I’m a savoury person!
If you’re after quality French food, then you can’t go past La Provence. Beautifully plated, refined flavours and truly satisfying – I’m looking forward to my next visit already!