On Thursday, Matt and I were so excited to finally check out Provision as they are participating in Big Taste 2018! (Click here to read about my Big Taste lunch at Market last weekend!)
Provision is located inside that cute little train car-sized structure in Central Memorial Park. The interior feels a lot like a snowed-in cabin decked out in wooden beams and warm lighting with pretty, mismatched plates and cozy menu items like roast half chicken with potatoes, broccolini and truffle jus or a grilled pork chop with brussels sprouts and smoked bacon.
In keeping with the grandma’s kitchen feel of the menu, we ordered some house sodas (I had the elderflower fizz and Matt had a sparkling lemonade!) and jumped right into the Big Taste Menu. As I mentioned last weekend, participating restaurants have the option to offer the $18 lunch, $28 lunch, $28 dinner, $40 dinner or $65 gourmet menu. Provision has chosen to serve up a $40 dinner menu with two selections for each course, so it was an easy decision to order one of each for the table!
One of our starters was the smoked mozzarella arancini with a crushed tomato sauce, parmesan cream and arugula. Holy heck, this was incredible. The smoky creaminess of the cheese in the arancini brought to mind the winning umami combination of ham, mac and cheese. The crust on the arancini was crisp and flavourful, the generous pile of arugula was pleasantly bitter and the parmesan cream and tomato sauce balanced each other perfectly. This all made for a plate-lickingly good start to the meal!
The other starter was charred broccolini with a black pepper aioli, fried sourdough croutons and bits of crispy onion. There wasn’t a lot of seasoning to the aioli so it did kind of feel like we were dipping our broccolini in mayonnaise, but I won’t lie – it felt just right. The buttery croutons and crispy onion rounded out the textures and sweetened the bites of charred broccolini. We usually order veggie-based dishes like this out of duty more than desire, but we were both surprised by how much we loved this item… even when compared to arancini, easily one of our favourite snacks!
Next came the olive oil-poached salmon with warm kale and oyster mushrooms smothered in a leek butter sauce. The sauce was quite tasty and was put to good use as we sponged it up with the mushrooms and greens, but otherwise we found the seasoning a little lacking in this dish. The salmon was cooked to a perfect doneness with a lot of moisture, but we felt it relied too heavily on the leek sauce for flavour. All of the elements were nicely prepared, but it just seemed a bit flat after the big flavours we experienced in the first course.
Our other main was roasted Alberta chicken breast, buttered gnocchi, greens and crispy onion bits. Like the salmon, this was a little low on seasoning for our tastes, especially for such a conservative protein. The chicken was crowned by a nice layer of salty, crispy skin, but the breast itself was slightly dry along the edges. We were also a little disappointed by how few gnocchi made it onto the plate – only 10 or 12 – and without much flavour despite the butter bath. Another element that didn’t feel quite right was the warmed greens cuddled right up next to a cold vinaigrette-dressed salad. This plating style cooled down the hot greens and warmed up the cold salad so that by the time it all reached our table, the vegetables had both reached the same tepid temperature.
Dessert was a highlight for sure. Matt loves a rich slice of terrine and this was a well-executed example. Crunchy, crumbled sponge toffee and vanilla whipped cream provided a nice contrast to the fudgy terrine. It was smooth, satisfying and extremely chocolatey.
I’m more of a carrot cake girl, so the other dessert was a major win for me. A nice piece of cake came out with a slightly browned top, tangy cream cheese mousse and sweet, crunchy candied nuts. The cake was slightly warm, perfectly spiced and a lovely texture. The cream cheese mousse added a richness without being cloyingly sweet. Excellent desserts!
We really liked the cozy decor, upbeat service and fun, buzzing atmosphere in this tiny, packed restaurant. Despite the uninspiring mains, we still came away with a good impression from the meal and a strong urge to come back and order from the main menu very soon. The seasonal nature of their menu gives a sense that there will always be something new and fresh to come try. I recommend stopping by Provision (340 13 Ave SW), especially in summer with the park all in bloom. Stay tuned for the third installment of our Big Taste adventures later this weekend! And if you’re jealous of any of the meals you’ve seen people posting this week, get out there and book your table today!