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Le Provencal Bistro: New Management ... Same Great Food

LeProvencalOutsideA breath of fresh air has blown into Mamaroneck. For many Westchester residents Le Provencal Bistro has been a staple in the county. After over 20 years, the original owners have returned to their European roots. A young, energetic and enthusiastic team of owners are making Le Provencal Bistro their own.

On busy Mamaroneck Avenue, this charming spot welcomes you with several bistro tables and seasonal potted plants at its entrance. The bar area is at the front, overlooking the street and the bi level dining room is cheerful with many French scenes lining the walls. My visit was within a few weeks of the new ownership and it was with great enthusiasm, that they indicated that they look forward to encouraging a friendly vibe at the bar and dining rooms and adding some new cosmetic changes in the dining rooms. “Our work is all about service and fine food. Our menu focuses on the food of Provence and our daily specials are seasonal and international in flavor. We believe there is always room for improvement. Service is very important, and we offer curbside pickup. Simply call in your order and we will bring it to your car.” This is a nice perk, if you wish to savor the dishes in the comfort of your own home without the concern of parking on the bustling street.

Le Provencal seats about 85 guests at their white linen clad tables with bistro style napkins and they have added additional artwork to the existing collection. The new owners love interacting with their guests and the wait staff was most accommodating.

The kitchen is headed by Chef Faustino Juarez, a master at his craft who ran the kitchen at steakfritesSteak FritesLe Provencal for many years. More than a dozen appetizers are available ranging from the classics to more trendy preparations. As the weather cools off you may wish to start with a bowl of homemade soup, perhaps wild mushroom soup or as I did, with lobster bisque. It was presented in a white porcelain footed bowl. The broth was rich, but not overpowering and morsels of fresh lobster studded this flavorful potage. Housemade foie gras was an elegant classic starter. Resting on toasted brioche with a tangle of caramelized onions and marmalade on the side, it was rich and delicious, a treat that I do not indulge in on a regular basis. A jumbo lump crab cake was mostly crabmeat enhanced with red bell pepper and just enough bread crumbs to hold it together. A nicely dressed mesclun salad with cranberries and walnuts balanced this dish.

A popular trend on many current menus are variations of avocado toast. At Le Provencal, one of the dinner appetizers is a super variation on the theme. Here, the base is grilled bread, nice and crisp, topped with carefully slice half moons of ripe avocado, a generous portion of smoked salmon and a sprinkling of toasted pistachio nuts. The result was divine. Yet to be sampled are escargots bourguignonne, Provençal onion tart and jumbo lump crabmeat salad with cucumbers and sauce Louis.

scallopsScallops in beurre blanc sauceMain courses are both traditional and creative. A bowl of moules poulette arrived in their plump glory piled high and steamed with herbs in a white wine sauce. Shoestring pommes frites were crisp and the mussels were steamed just to the right point so they remained cooked but tender. We couldn’t resist the hanger steak with those wonderful pommes frites. The steak was marinated with garlic rosemary and thyme and served just as I desired, black and blue. The classic combination of steak, pommes frites and fresh haricots vertes was a favorite. Other possibilities are coq au vin, beef bourguignonne, sautéed salmon with mushrooms, lentils and leeks in a chardonnay beurre blanc, shrimp Provençal, lobster linguine and steak au poivre. Quite good was a daily special of sea scallops in a beurre blanc sauce. They shared the plate with sautéed spinach, ratatouille and grilled zucchini slices. This delicate dish was both delicious and colorful.

Among the homemade desserts prepared by the pastry chef are classics of crème brulee, chocolate pot de appletartTarte Tatincrème, profiteroles, Sergio’s banana cake lemon tart or as I devoured, a warm , melt in your mouth tarte tatin. The crust was the base for the wedges of caramelized apples. It was sooo good and shared the plate with vanilla ice cream. A special of the day was a classic chocolate opera cake with its many layers. An international wine list is offered with some exciting new selections to come.

A lovely brunch menu is available on Saturdays and Sundays. The choices include eggs benedict with smoked salmon or black forest ham, and omelettes to name but a few of the many options. A nice addition to the brunch menu are both sweet and savory crepes where you can choose your own combination of ingredients.

If lunch is your meal of choice, on Monday through Friday, you can enjoy a 2 course prix fixe lunch or a la carte appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts. Sautéed John Dory tartines and a Provencal palette of quinoa, mushrooms, Beets, lentils, ratattouille and burrata are nice choices.

We loved the original Le Provencal for many years and look forward to many fine meals at the newly envisioned Le Provencal Bistro of the present time and for many years to come, as the new owners make it their own.

Le Provencal Bistro
436 Mamaroneck Avenue
Mamaroneck, NY

Recipe: Mussels Poulette (Serves 4)

3 Pounds Mussels, Scrubbed
1 Tsp. Chopped Garlic
1 Tsp. Chopped Shallots
2 Tsps. Chopped Fresh Herbs (Chives, Parsley, Tarragon)
1 Cup White Wine
1 Cup Clam Juice
1 Cup Heavy Cream, Or To Taste
Place mussels in a large pot on high heat Add shallots and herbs and garlic Add cream, clam broth and white wine at the same time. Boil for 5 minutes. Discard any shells that do not open. Serve and enjoy.

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