What's up at La Provence?
It's...ok. I've been there a few times with the old chef and found the food quite good, but the last time I went (about a year ago) I was fairly underwhelmed. The waitstaff was very professional and made it a pleasant meal, but I found the food pretty bland. Granted, this was a year ago. Still, on the Northshore it's one of the nicer "fancy" places to eat.
I was there about 2 weeks ago and it was excellent. It definitely tasted like John Besh food in terms of flavor combinations, but was more down-to-earth than August.
The chicken liver pate that you get with corn pones as a sort of bread & butter starter is awesome, and I'm not usually a big charcuterie person.
The cocktails, especially their spin on the French 75 are also awesome. Just a few days ago, I had a French 75 at Luke along with a couple of other cocktails and thought Luke was a mere shadow of the goodness that was mixed at La Provence.
The corn soup was extremely good, a salad (sorry, don't recall what and it's not one on the website currently) was just a salad. The chevon (goat) was very good but not as good as the duck (a very crispy half-duck with a duck fat fried potato rectangle (yum) and 'carrot marrow' which was probably more effort to whittle than it was worth). Dessert was a chocolate creme brulee which made us both want to get naked. I imagine we would get the duck, the dessert and the corn soup if we went again, but didn't think the others were repeat-worthy.
Overall, the food quality was very close to August. Recipes were less complex and inventive, but were subtle and refined. Atmosphere/ decor was nice (I'd sit in the bar area next time), but nothing outstanding. The service was good but lacked the professionalism and attention to detail I expected at this price point.
2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 1 dessert and 4 cocktails totaled ~$110
Again: The specialty cocktails were outstanding and made Luke into something of a disappointment, bar-wise.