Sunday, April 6, 2008

La Provence - Disappointment

La Provence Restaurant and Terrace on Urbanspoon



La Provence prides itself on so many awards for this and that - Reader's Choice, Best French, 5 star, 4 star, on and on. Our experience was just 3 star.

I had gotten one of the Y92 Half Price Thing discounts. You pay $25 for a $50 gift card. I had read such good things about the restaurant and had been meaning to go for some time. La Provence is not exactly in a convenient location though. It is out in suburban Roseville in a residential area. We finally took the time to drive out that way for an 8:00 dinner.

The restaurant is large and very spacious and open. It has gas fireplaces, high ceilings, and a rustic look. We were seated promptly and handed the menus. The menus had many interesting dishes. We knew it was pricey, but that also added to our high expectations.

We started with the escargot. Not everybody can take eating snails, but I can get it done if I turn off the "it's a snail!" voice in my head. They were served piping hot with plenty of garlic and herbs. They were tender and delicious. A good start.

The first entree selection was Navarin d'agneau Printaniere - spring leg of Placer County lamb, baby vegetables and steamed Yukon gold potatoes. This was a very flavorful dish that was really a stew. The description implies a lamb leg or a cut of the lamb leg. Instead it was just small chunks of lamb, and not much at that. Good, but chintzy on the meat.

I had the Lapin a la Moutarde - fresh rabbit quarters roasted with thyme and Dijon mustard, bacon-wrapped stuffed loin, Yukon gold smashed potatoes, haricots verts and Dijon mustard sauce. The picture is above. Although tasty, the rabbit meat was very dry and there was hardly any sauce to offset the dryness. It was also a real chore to eat the rabbit. I struggled considerably with it. Not tender or easy to enjoy at all.

As for the service, it was mediocre. As it would be in France, the time between courses is lengthy. French take their time and enjoy their meals over a few hours versus 45 minutes like Americans do. That wasn't an issue since it was to be expected. But we were annoyed that such a nice restaurant would not have taught the waiters better serving etiquette. Our server was constantly reaching right across us to get a water glass or light a candle. It was like an invasion of your personal space and not done gracefully or politely.

I'd like to give La Provence another chance sometime. I'll probably wait for another coupon though. Certainly not inclined to go out of my way to full price based on this experience.
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