Tucked away in a lazy little part of Cabbagetown, there's a perfect little French restaurant. Originally known by the witty name, Le Canard Enchaine, after a French newspaper, chef-owner Elie Benchitrit specialized in duck. When he changed the name to Provence Delice for ease, thankfully, they still kept duck on the menu! If you're sentimental and romantic, this is the place for you. If you love classic French food, again, this is the place for you.
When spring is really in full swing, the cove
red terrace out front will be magnificent with overflowing flower boxes, facing quaint little Amelia street. The effect is one of feeling transported to French country altogether. Even enjoying drinks at the lengthy copper bar has that effect.
My wine importing friend, Fred Lamprecht, brings the wine. Although there is a full list of French wines to choose from, we have something a little special. And it must go with special food of course. To start, a perfect baguette; Fred is really impressed by the deliciously crispy crust and melt-in-your-mouth warmth of it. A bottle of Chablis paves the way with a Herring Salad ($10). I order the pate and ballotine of chicken, which is my first course of a $35 prixe fixe menu. I've had it in the past, as part of a classic ally tasteful charcuterie plate.
Just before our entrees arrive, Fred opens up a rare half bottle of 1969 Pinotage, which he assures me, is more Burgundian than Burgundy. In fact, it's won in blind tastings with the assumption that it's a pinot noir. It's a stunner with my classic coq au vin and with the duck confit ($22) Fred has ordered. (I called in advance to check if we could bring wine and there is a corkage fee of $25.)
After the blissful pairing of the wine and food, we settle down to creme brulee with a little splash of Grand Marnier. It's calm and cozy and the music is quiet. "A chanteuse might be nice," Fred muses. There's also the possibility of reviving my skill in French cookery with Elie on Monday evenings, for his cooking classes at Provence Delice. Provence delicious, I say...mais oui.
Price: Medium high, but great value
Atmosphere: Rustic Romance
Surprise, Surprise: Cooking classes with Elie!
Wheelchair Access: No
Hint: All French wines listed or corkage fee for BYOW.
FIVE STARS: (Extraordinary) A one-of-a-kind, world-class experience.
FOUR STARS: (Excellent) Superior. Memorable, high-quality menus and/or savvy service.
THREE STARS: (Good) Solid places that beckon with generally appealing cooking.
TWO STAR: (Fair) Just OK. A place not worth rushing back to. But, it might have something worth recommending.
ONE STAR: (Poor) Below-average restaurant.
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