Sunday, June 20, 2010

French/Italian Style Afternoon Tea

Review of Provence Mediterranean Grill, 4473 West 10 Avenue, Vancouver, BC

Provence Mediterranean Grill Restaurant is situated in the cozy neighborhood of Point Grey, specializing in French and Italian cuisine with a modern touch. Provence has another restaurant located in Yaletown called Provence Marinaside also offering Grand Thè (afternoon tea) from 2PM to 5PM priced at $20. After a disappointing experience at Tracycakes, I contemplated whether a meal costing $5 more would make much difference in terms of the food quality, service and ambiance. So I decided to give Provence at 10th a try and see if the outcome was more or less comparable as that of Tracycakes.

No doubt, I enjoyed my visit at Provence much more than Tracycakes. The ambiance had a warm, casual and friendly neighborhood feel. There was no specific theme decor at this place. The main focal point was the food. Service was second to none. As soon as my guest and I arrived with a reservation, the hostess escorted us to our table set for afternoon tea with a menu. When we were ready to choose our tea, our server promptly attended to our table. She was courteous, attentive and patient. Despite a small tea selection, I was indecisive between 3 flavours -- Tropical Green Tea, Camomile Citrus and Organic African Nectar. Our server patiently described what was in each tea and I finally settled with the latter of the three. Food delivery was as speedy as a fast food restaurant. The wait time for the food was unbelievably short, like 5 minutes. The kitchen had an open window and you could see the staff working hastily and efficiently. I was impressed at the kitchen staff for being very organized preparing our food upon our arrival. The white plate on each tier tray showcased the food with vibrant colours –- red and green and garnished with fresh herbs and fruits. Simplicity in the layout worked well in the presentation.

Like Tracycakes, Provence served Might Leaf loose tea leaves in a satin mesh pouch. The differences were we each had our own teapots with the tea pouch brewed inside (instead of sharing one pot) and a teapot cover was used to keep the tea insulated. My African Nectar tea had a delightful taste – a rooibos blend of tropical fruits and blossoms with soothing qualities –- calm and relaxation. The food was fused with French and Italian styles substituting the traditional sandwiches and cakes with brochette, crostini, madeleines and biscotti. The savouries and sweets were served on a 2 tiered tray with much larger plates. We noticed that some of the food and tea selections listed on the menu were different from the one online. Despite the change of menu, the alternatives did not disappoint. The bottom tier displayed a selection of savouries including prosciutto and goat cheese crostini, smoked salmon and cucumber, sundried tomato and spinach crostini and tomato & bocconcini brochette. The top tier showcased a variety of sweets including Provence biscotti (chocolate and craisin), parisian macarons, madeleines, lemon tartelette, deux scones accompanied by crème fraiche and Bonne Maman preserves from France. I liked all the selections -- simple, fresh and tasty. The chocolate/craisin biscotti were amongst my favourites. These delights were so addictive that it made me crave for more. The portions were enough for 2 people, neither too little nor too much, leaving us feeling happily full and satisfied.

What is the verdict? I rate Provence a 4 for fabulous food and service. The afternoon tea experience was unique, embarking you on a journey to the French/Italian Mediterranean offering you different flavourful delights. The tea selection, however, could have been better if they served loose leave teas rather than pouches. Of course, we should not have high expectations considering the price was only $20. Was it worth the visit paying the extra $5? Absolutely! I would definitely return to Provence and try the one in Yaletown for the magnificent view of Coal Harbour.

Provence Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

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