Hi, Kate Shea Kennon here, guest blogging from my last assignment this Hudson Valley Restaurant Week at Le Provencal Bistro in Mamaroneck where you wouldn’t know it was Restaurant Week from the menu: escargots? pâté? Coq au vin? Fabuleux! I exclaimed at the size of the menu to our waitress who enthusiastically told us that the owners (Derrick and Mieke Dikkers) had decided “if they were going to do Restaurant Week, they were going to do it all the way.” And judging by the breadth and scope of the prix-fixe menu, they did.
Located on busy Mamaroneck Avenue, the restaurant is a lovely spot that evokes a Mediterranean ideal – soft, yellow walls hung with the artwork of Provençal artist Gerard Isirdi and photos of the Rive Gauche in Paris. Vases of emerging forsythia promise a spring that the morning’s snow temporarily denies. The dining room would be a different time and place if it weren’t for the Justin Timberlake soundtrack. Cry me a river indeed. At least that river is the Seine.
The lunch menu offered seven appetizers, nine main courses and four desserts – all reproving me for not leaving enough time this week for a return visit so that we could try even more dishes. My choice of appetizer was the mesclun salad with Gruyère cheese and a mustard vinaigrette. The greens were fresh but could have used a tad more dressing. The cheese trimming was generous, but Gruyère is not a strong enough cheese to balance the bitter mesclun. I like my salads healthy, but not too much so. The other appetizer we tried was the winner. Can’t you just smell this wonderful soup right through your computer?
A Mussel soup with bacon, leeks, carrots and French beans, the broth had a umami taste, savory and lingering. Beautiful in presentation and living up to it in taste with an abundant amount of mussels and leeks that had a spring onion quality -light and complementary, the soup was superb.
For our main courses (not entrées because, as you foodies know, entrée in Provence means appetizer!) we concentrated on the meat dishes because how can you resist Beef Stew Bourguignonne? Out of the nine courses, there were three beef, two chicken, three fish and shellfish, and a ham and cheese sandwich (a Croque Monsiuer) that I should have ordered to bring home for further comparison tasting. However, the Bourguignonne was so hearty that any late night sandwiches ended up quite out of the question. The green beans were cooked to perfection. The meat melted in the proverbial mouth.
The Kobe burger too was cooked flawlessly to order – medium rare. The roll enhanced the burger, and the pommes frites were addictive allumettes – the thinner or matchstick variety. You know, the ones with no calories. The only disappointment was the accompanying au poivre sauce which lacked the peppery punch promised. That was provided by a nice glass of Côtes du Rhône, Domaine de Montvac 2009. The wine handled the bold flavor of the Japanese beef with ease.
As for dessert, I will let a picture stand in for those thousand words.
With choices that included three different sorbets or a poached pear with pistachio gelati, almonds and chocolate sauce, we picked a profiterole and a lemon tart with raspberry coulis. The lemon tart was a bit acerbic, oh wait, that was my lunch partner. The lemon tart was nicely tangy, but in my dessert world, nothing beats a warm chocolate sauce.And nothing beat Le Provencal Bistro in my Restaurant Week adventure. It was a great couple of weeks, and I can’t wait until the next HVRW. Thank you for this opportunity, Small Bites, see you next year. La Provencal Bistro? It won’t be that long until I’m back. Now it’s time to get to the gym.