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May 9, 2009 07:05 PM

A La Provence in Tallahassee, an early opinion

Okay, I shall always call it "Albert's" and there is indeed his talented hand in the works, but the early opinion on a la Provence is that we have a winner. Tallahassee has not had a real "favorite restaurant" in town, in my opinion, since Albert retired. But they are resurrecting him at the original location and the early results are impressive. Three of us there tonight, with tournedos, salmon, and veggie lasagna. Clear winner was the salmon and the reasonably priced Ridge Zin for only $39. Chopped salad, the focaccia bread, were also impressive. French press coffee. If you remember and loved the old Albert's, give these guys a shot.

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  1. Is Albert back in the kitchen?

    1 Reply
    1. re: fl bob

      No, he has had some health issues, but he is guiding the owner of new restaurant and helped put menu together.

    2. Looks like A La Provence has quickly achieved the vaunted 5-hat status. I'm so excited now to come back to Tallahassee and try this place sometime.

      1. I dined there on their opening night and the food was wonderful, staff very helpful, decor tastefully arranged, and had a wonderful night. I think Bill Bertoncin, the new owner but very seasoned and longtime manager and maitre'd, has seen what works and what doesn't work and will be a great success! Good luck.

        1. I too was there opening night. Though there was no advance publicity (other than owner Bill Bertoncin alerting Albert's regulars via a sparce web site), the place was packed. Though there's no way they could have expected the huge crowd, the kitchen & wait staff kept pace and did a phenomenal job. A layed beet salad was the bomb, as was a seafood fricasse. Great food, reasonable prices, warm & inviting. We'll be regulars.

          10 Replies
          1. re: rickopp

            Great news, I can't wait to try it. When I saw that they were going to use harris ranch beef (grass-fed from just north of the GA line) I know they were going to be good.

            1. re: Floridensis

              Harris Ranch beef is from California, and is grain fed.

              1. re: steakman55

                And there is nothing in particular that sets Harris Ranch beef apart from any other beef, it comes from a huge, huge, huge feedlot adjacent to I-5 in central California. It's available in super markets in California and is just a fancy brand of Select or Choice beef.

                1. re: ChinoWayne

                  I am a little confused about what special means. There are 60 Harris ranch farms in California. They are grass fed not fattened with corrupted corn like most cattle ranches. Harris ranch offers certified angus and prime in addition to choice. In Florida it is only sold in specialty grocery stores and the finest steakhouses.

                    1. re: ChinoWayne

                      I love niman ranch also. Harris ranch is doing a new promotion with one of their ranches and I was lucky to be opening at the right time. Which also means with success comes price increases (not mine, theirs). I had to deal with allen bros, stockyard, buckhead, and niman with new products at great prices and then bamm. Thank goodness there is always a supplier trying to get something new of quality out into the public. I am in communication with a friend in Georgia raising some incredible beef, but it won't be ready for another year.

                      1. re: bertoncin

                        I've been to the Harris Ranch in CA, ate in the restaurant (great meal) and I think we actually hunted jackrabbits on some of their land. (I'm not sure about that... We walked a bazillion miles that weekend over a lot of ranches and I don't know that we were actually on Harris land.)

                        I didn't see any huge feedlots... just the "processing" plant. I was too damned tired after hiking 10 miles a day to notice much. But, the steak I had there was good, the bartender was awesome and we had a great time.

                        1. re: onrushpam

                          The feed lot is south a few miles, if they put the motel and restaurant next to the feedlot, no one would stop, you ever smell thousands of cows churning out mountains of waste?

                2. re: steakman55

                  My mistake. I assumed that since the Chef is a local sustainable agriculture advocate (according to his blog) and there is a quality local grass fed beef operation, which is owned by a family called Harris, ( ), that the restaurant's beef would be from there and not California. So, I am disappointed in that fact but I am still excited to try the restaurant.

                  1. re: Floridensis

                    Regarding Harris Ranch, they do have a new certified grass-fed program which is the product we have chosen to highlight on our menu. As a poster noticed, I am an advocate of local and sustainable farming. Harris Ranch seemed the best immediate choice for us in the short term. As a long term vision, well I am developing a network of heritage breed producers incuding myself. Very soon you will see lamb from my developing flock of Jacob's and Gulf Coast sheep as well Berkshire pork. A wide range of poultry and gamebirds are also very near.

                    I also do not currently use a produce company. Farmers I have met during my years at the market drop things off at the back door. My own organic gardens are also thriving at this time.

                    We strive each day to become more and more local in our reach to procure our products.

                    I am very pleased with the response thus far. It is very rewarding to see the smiling return of my mentor's clientele.

            2. Nice to see that the owner and chef take an interest in what we "foodies" have to say. And take the time to explain what they are doing and where the food comes from.

              Always a skeptic of our local reviewer's opinions, I've been holding back on going to this restaurant until it gets a bit "seasoned" and opening jitters calm down. But sounds like the seasoning has was there at the opening bell and the only jitters came from patrons having too many coffees. Anniversary coming up...will give A La Provence a try.