Provence – Albany, NY
I recently thought a visit into Provence in Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany was due. I’ve never had the opportunity to sample the food there, but always wanted to.
We went for dinner. At around 6pm on a Saturday, we were one of less than a handful of tables.
The menu has lots of stuff to choose from, but we decided to start with a couple of their tapas.
I picked the fried artichokes with lemon aioli; Cassie picked the Manchego cheese fritters with balsamic drizzle. Both were $6 each.
The fried artichokes were decent. Marinated artichokes are difficult to get very crispy, but I was pleased with the level of crispness. The aioli was creamy but lacked any assertive lemon flavor. It really just tasted like mayonnaise.
The fried Manchego cheese fritters were a bit unfortunate. Most of the cheese had escaped during the fry, but, more importantly, the balsamic reduction served along side tasted burnt. I was very close to saying something to our server, but decided not to and just munch on the fritters without it. Honestly, even if there was a good amount of cheese in there, they wouldn’t need the balsamic.
I also had the Salade Maison ($8), described as Mixed Baby Greens in Dijon-Herb Vinaigrette.
The size and literal delivery of the dish was a bit disappointing. It was basically less than an ounce of spring mix tossed with a forcefully acidic Dijon dressing. Eight bucks seems a bit steep for this.
My main course was the pan-seared diver scallops with apples, orange & fennel over farro-vegetable Salad ($21).
I started eating this from the center and really loved the cook on the scallop and the chewiness of the farro. The shaved apple, shaved fennel, and orange suprêmes topping the scallops were great to bring some brightness to the dish. As I ventured around to the circumference of the plate, I started tasting the same burnt balsamic reduction from above. That and the size of the portion (there were two u/10 scallops atop about 1/2 cup of cooked farro) really made me disappointed in this course.
I did order dessert, because the beignets ($8) sounded like they would be good.
Unlike the above courses, the size of the portion was reasonable for the price, but the beignets were very dense and gritty. They were also served with enough common vanilla ice cream, chocolate, and caramel syrups to be on the borderline of being a sundae.
As a general comment, the restaurant seems a little dated, and the overall decor and the plating of the dishes reinforced that feeling. I expected things to be a little more modern there considering the fact that they’re located in the heart of a shopping center that gets a decent amount of traffic.