Salut mes amis! Lamentably, it’s been a while since the Silver Fox and I have visited la belle France, but thanks to a celebratory lunch last weekend, we felt a little touch of that Gallic hospitality that makes local bistros like this such a gem. The occasion was our first wedding anniversary – I can’t quite believe that it’s been 12 months since we said the big ‘I do’ on that happy sunny day. Fast-forward 12 months and here we were, wheeling our buggy in to a restaurant we knew well from its previous incarnations as Daniel’s and then Bistro La Garrigue. The new-ish spot is Bistro Provence, which seems to strike a clever balance between informal easy lunches during the day (as well as running a separate bar snacks menu) and the option of set price dinner, or tasting menu at night. The host, Michel couldn’t have made us feel more welcome, making sure we had space for the Fox Cub’s three wheeler!
Champagne? Mais bien sur! A glass of Laurent Perrier for me, and a Brasserie Mont Blanc white beer for the felly. Drinking at lunch – just like on holidays, eh? The lunch menu is fantastic value at £16 for three courses (or £12.50 for three), and I’d say was great value. Things are kept refreshingly simple on the menu, and from a few starters I chose the pear, walnut and bleu d’auvergne salad. An absolute classic, and what a treat to be nibbling on stinky fromage after all those months of avoidance during pregnancy! Mr had the first course of a porky kinda lunch, with a densely pressed and very meaty ham hough terrine, served with a dollop of onion chutney and crunchy toast. As is expected, the sliced baguette was provided without asking, and the bread was chewy-crusty great, much better than some of that cheapo bake at home style stuff you sometimes get.
Fish of the day for me was an easy pick and well rewarded. Super fresh white coley with soft sweet peppers, braised fennel and a rich and creamy beurre blanc which had a summery twist with tomato through it. Mr’s second dose of pork was pork belly with mash and something else neither of us can remember. I resisted having a taste ’til the very end and then caved in when I clocked how nicely cooked the layer of fat on top was, and it was simply yum.
Desserts, neither of us thought it would be right to resist a little strawberry Eton mess, which had a surprising little element of having dods of vanilla ice cream through it. Nice touch, and it really was the perfect choice for a July day before the Wimbledon finals.
Sadly, their neighbouring restaurant ‘Fatma’, the Lebanese recently shut down, so all the more reason to support friendly, excellent independents like Bistro Provence when you can.
Lovely spot on Commercial Quay, channelling a great French vibe. Friendly team, good ingredients simply presented for max flavour, and superb value for money.
PS Back home, more celebratory bubbles ensued!