Weird Waiter at Provence
First time to Provence... I was there for a birthday dinner. For most of the time, we were the only people in the place, which doesn't give you the most festive atmosphere.
The waiter was not French. He was either very strange or 'altered' in some way. Sort of felt like the waiter in The Party, if you've seen that movie. He was sort of swaying... I thought he was going to fall into our table at points.
The food was pretty good, but I really couldn't stand the atmosphere. It was much too bright and empty. I felt like I was eating in a crab shack in Cape Cod, not in a French bistro. How about dimming the lights and firing up some candles next time. Like I said, the artichoke apetizer was good. The steak was fine, but I hate those matchstick style french fries. If you're going to chop them that finely, at least give me a spoon.
Creme brulee disappointed in a big way. The inside was much too thin and the crust didn't take anything to get through.
I don't think I would go back. Pastis is much better and has a great atmosphere for the same price.
I don't think you can blame the restaurant if you are at a birthday "celebration" that is not festive.
"How about dimming the lights and firing up some candles next time"
Two things on this - did they refuse your request to do so? What is it about dim lighting that you find conducive to a festive birthday celebration?
The waiter the OP is referring to is Stephen. He has been there for years is sort of like an Emu Phillips look and act alike if you can relate to this reference. He may be a little strange but he is incrediblily attentive, passionate and definately "high" only on life. With repect to the OP''s complaints about the restaurant and atmosphere, he is justified in his/her complaint. The last time I was there (mid-March) with a group of 8 and we were the only table in the restaurant. We had a great time but I think being in a busier, more festive restaurant would've added to our enjoment. The place is way to bright and actually a little run down. Turning down the lights would help the atmosphere and make the run-downess less noticeable. The food on the other hand is quite good.
Finally a post of mine generates some discussion. I think atmosphere is crucial. I never said we didn't have a good time... quite the contrary. I just think a very bright restaurant is not going to get you in the mood as much.
As for the frites, I don't like the matchstick style, I guess. Not all 'french' frites are this tiny. I've had dozens and dozens of steak frites, both here and in Europe and I would say 9 out of 10 times you get a heartier frite.
"I just think a very bright restaurant is not going to get you in the mood as much."
In the mood for what?
I am surprised that people (other posters seem to agree) find that a well lit room detracts from dining atmosphere. In fact, I don't understand it at all. Especially in light of the fact that people seem to want the place both dim and loud.
I like to dine in a well lit space that is quiet.
Oh, what the hell, I'll weigh in here.... Provence is an OK place, but doesn't get my pulse racing. I think that it is perhaps brighter than one might expect from a bistro, but comparing it to the Eaton Centre food zoo is an exaggeration. I rather like the decor. I like the frites there. My complaint is the last time I went, I had the venison, the date had the lamb, and we received precisely the same sides, no variance. (Good wine list, though.) As to the restaurant not being adequately busy to lend festivity to your birthday dinner, festivity comes from within. A group of us have been the only table in a resto (not Provence) and I think that the staff were glad we were the only ones, given how raucous (no, not drunk...) we were.