Today I was invited to attend the sixteenth anniversary of Provence Marinaside. This February 20th marked their sweet 16th, and Chef/owners Jean Francis and
Alessandra Quaglia invited us to stop by to see first hand what they had in store, and to help celebrate. My role: the plus one to James of @hellovancity.
As their name suggests, the restaurant with a view offers the perfect marriage between the “flavours and seafood of the South of France and our Canadian West Coast”. Located in Yaletown, your time with them comes with waterfront view of the Marina. Ideal for people watching and the gentle sway of boats at dock. Although it may currently be too cold to enjoy their patio, they do have bright pink fleece blankets for all those who dare.
But today, the elegant dining room was more than ideal for our seating. Especially with how festive they had decorated things. Walking towards the restaurant you knew there was a celebration within. You could see the live band setting up through the window, and the balloons that hung in bunches of pink and white from the ceiling. The staff where even dressed with pink details to match the theme.
Towards the back of the restaurant were the inflated words “sweet” and the number “16” in a metallic gold. They matched the matte gold detailing of the establishment. The gold gilded taps, the golden decor piece made from criss crossed metal lines, and the candle set at every table flickering with a golden flame. All together the room felt very festive and warm. A setting befitting a landmark birthday. I have never been to the sweet 16 of a restaurant before, and now found myself wondering why this isn’t more common of a thing?
Our meal had us choosing our three courses, with appetizers and entrees specifically from their “Sweet Sixteen” specials. These were a handful of dishes that have been on “Provence’s” menu since they first opened. Dishes that have withstood the test of time and continue to be favourites of their customers over the years. So to celebrate their popularity and to get new customers in to see what “Provence Marinaside” is all about, they will each be 16% off from Feb 20th, 2018 to the end of March 2018. The discounted price is listed in a golden starburst on the menu for easy identification.
And speaking of the menu, they had a new one specially printed with new matching business cards to commemorate the landmark. It was a whimsical presentation with cartoon scallops and shrimp in a bowl, a crab wielding tongs, and even a plump frog twisting his moustache.
But before we get to the actual food, when it comes to a media tasting, plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.
Our meal began with a welcome sparking wine and some olive tapenade with crostini to sip and nibble on.
The the chef tickled our taste buds with an amuse bouche of foie gras (slightly fattened duck or goose liver) mousse and quince jelly, over a puff pastry round. It was salty and sweet; a meaty dish with the pate, yet dessert-like with the sweeter jam.
Next we continued to graze of the slightly warm basket of herbed focaccia with butter for spreading.
For appetizers we decided to share a larger one that best highlighted the quality of the seafood that you would expect given their proximity to the water’s edge, and their reputation. The “Plateau de fruits de mer” normally costs $85, and it is suggested that you share it between two. However during their Sweet 16 promotion you get it 16% off for $71.40. It is an impressive platter covered in ice, topped with 1/2 crab, prawns, oysters, scallops, smoked salmon; and a seafood salad of scallops and squid with salsa served in the shell of a crab. Ours was brought to our table by Chef/owner Jean Francis, who steadied the serving on a wire stand.
To feed more bodies with more food, you have the ability to add on another tier with half a lobster and a trio of crudo (tuna, steelhead, scallops). Normally this would cost you $50, but during “Sweet 16” it is only $42. We didn’t get the add on, but someone else did. So from now to the end of March this two tier tower of fresh seafood is only $113.40, whereas you are typically paying $135 for it!
For entrees we went with fish and beef, with the proper glasses of white and red wine to compliment it.
The “Seared Lois lake steelhead” was some of the tastiest fish I have ever had, if not the best salmon. It is well worth its normal price of $32, and a deal at 16% off ($26.88). Prepared with baby kale, lentils, pickled shallots, and turmeric scented cauliflower purée. However, I was more than content in enjoying the well season piece of fish as is. James described it best when he called it a “juicy fish”. Whereas I was not a fan of the wilted vegetables or grainy lentils, he found them helpful in balancing out the “fattiness” of the steelhead.
Similarly the “AAA Canadian beef filet” was tender and flavourful. Although here I found that the braised root vegetables and smoked mashed potato sides were most helpful in balancing out the intensity and tang of the red wine peppercorn jus. I also enjoyed the varying starches for their different textures, and how they paired with the light hickory flavour I got from the steak. Normally the 6oz cut is $38, but at 16% off it is currently only $31.92.
For dessert I was sold on the “Berry and white chocolate clafoutis”, as soon as I heard that the recipe comes from James’ mother. There is nothing quite comforting like a baked pie that your mom made. Their version of the French classic comes with a dollop of vanilla ice cream that add milkiness to the buttery dough, giving each bite a luscious finish. I really enjoyed it and could have taken home a whole pie to finish later. Whereas James could have done with less crust to better highlight the tart berry filling.
We also shared their special of the day, an apple crumble. This too was comforting, but in a familiar way. Cinnamon apples topped with baked granola, and finished with a generous scoop of ice cream. My only critique is that I personally would have liked it baked longer for a more crispy topping, a crunch that better contrasted the melty ice cream and gummy apple slices.
And when we thought we had finished our meal, everyone also got a mini pink frosted in their pretty in pink theme.
The night concluded with our hosts,Chef/owners Jean Francis and Alessandra Quaglia giving thanks and saying a few words, before inviting everyone to raise their glasses and give a “cheers”.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
If you haven’t visited the before, I definitely suggest this opportune time to do so. A little over a month to see what they are all about through their proven menu items. And when summer rolls around, don’t forget to return to enjoy the unique vantage point from their patio. Don’t deny your cravings.