The Provincial is a new restaurant in the Union Place development on Terry Street in Rozelle. Owned by Joe & John Paul Hawach of the Jean Louis Joseph deli and partner Johan Khoury it serves contemporary European cuisine. The pride of place in the kitchen is the Spanish wood fired parilla grill.
Mr NQN were trying something new. Well something that we hadn't done in a while. Date night. Because life with an extra family member means that these sorts of things fall to the wayside. So I got dressed up in my newest dress and heels, deposited our little dog with Nina and picked Mr NQN up from work. A date it was.
First things first, The Provincial's menu doesn't seem overly provincial. By that I mean the menu seems more city than rustic countryside. Indeed we are told that the menu was influenced by chef Patrick Dang's hand (formerly of Concrete Blonde and MG Garage).
Johan says, "The restaurant was named after a word that we thought would be a great name for a restaurant. We thought it would be interesting to play on the name with the food being unexpectedly contemporary or fine dining."
The menu pricing is simple and quite smart for such a suburban area with plenty of new housing developments. Two courses are $55 and three courses $65 which keeps it affordable for locals.
We start with cocktails, a Blueberry & Chamomile "Martini" for me which is sweet yet refreshing and Smoke 'Em Out, a gorgeous pineapple chilli number with Tequila, Chartreuse and Ardbeg 10 that has a good amount of sustained heat in every mouthful.
They've only been open for three weeks and when I ask for what is popular the staff go to the kitchen to ask the chefs. Bread and butter are brought to the table and we nibble on these while we watch the restaurant fill with patrons.
I love chicken skin so the scallop dish appeals to me. The seared Kangaroo Island scallops are served with caramelised artichoke puree, porcini puree, hazelnut vinaigrette and cirspy chicken skin. The dish is pleasant but could do with a bit of seasoning or something to pep it up.
The charcuterie of duck suffers no such fate though. There are four types of duck here: duck tongue, duck prosciutto, foie gras royale and a duck presse each one even more delectable than the previous mouthful. I particularly loved the foie gras and the presse as well as the pickled carrot "sauerkraut" and the currant mustard.
There's a bit of wait between entree and main and by now the restaurant is almost at capacity. Mr NQN decides to kill time (and kill the date mood) by discussing my number 1 pet hate topic. Long time readers may know that I have a complete version to toilet topics and he brings it up showing me pictures of a traditional toilet in a far flung country. "Stop!! No more!!" I put my hand up. And then just in time comes the sides and then the mains. Thankfully.
My favourite main of the two is the scorpion fish. I mean a what? Honestly do they just make up cool names for fish nowadays? It's a firm, bouncy textured fish heading towards a monkfish texture paired with slices of king prawn "chorizo" which mimics the seasonings of chorizo but with king prawn instead (spoiler: it's delish!). There's also a sauce a la grecque, white beans and sauce bouillabaise with a hint of saffron. I love the bold flavours of this dish.
True to his form, Mr NQN enjoys the opposite of me. I mean sometimes I wonder how we got married if only because we picked the opposite of each other. He likes fruit salad, toilet humour and being alone. I like butter, being busy and eating pastries. He also really loves the pork dish with three types of Berkshire Heritage pork: loin cheek and belly. This is paired with pickled kohlrabi, mulberry and a creamy texture red cabbage marmalade.
I wish I had loved the cabbage because while I loved it on sight, there was something about the flavour that didn't woo me. It's a caramelised baked cabbage with marrow and apple ketchup which sounds delightful on paper but I didn't love it.
The Pommes Paillason fare better, they're like a cube form of a hash brown, the prize is the outside crispy bits. Three cubes are served with aioli and red pepper sauce. It just needs a bit of seasoning.
There's an apology for the wait in desserts and with the noise level increasing from the table nearby we are wanting to leave. The desserts are worth the wait. The Valrhona chocolate dessert is a long squiggle of Valrhona chocolate mousse with a very light touch of passionfruit curd, black sesame and crispy caramelised rice that really gives the dessert a wonderful balance.
Well no surprise that Mr NQN goes instead for the fruity number with roasted pineapple, Valrhona blonde chocolate, popcorn glass or toffee with super fine popcorn shards, black pepper and a yogurt sorbet. This is as refreshing as the chocolate is rich. And you guessed it, Mr NQN goes for this while I prefer the chocolate!
So tell me Dear Reader, how often do you do date nights? And do you have opposing tastes to your friends or other half? And what do you think of set menu pricing like this?
This meal was independently paid for.
Union Place, 124 Terry Street, Rozelle, NSW, 2039
Ph. 02 9818 4411
Opening Hours Tuesday to Thursday: 6pm - 10pm Friday: 12pm - 3pm and 6pm - 10pm Saturday & Sunday: 11:30am - 3pm and 6pm - 10pm
Free undercover parking
Dog friendly area outside