"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Les Provinces -- Restaurant Review

Les Provinces
20 rue d'Aligre 75012
 closed Mondays
reservations accepted
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)
3- Star...........................................................................................................................3 - Bell

It was our monthly exploration into the Paris food world with our dear friend, which led us to "Les Provinces" in the 12th, in the heart of the famous  "Marché D'Aligre".  And, it just so happened today was also market day.  The place is Christophe Dru’s butcher shop who sells various meats, poultry and wine. They annexed part of the store to create a small dining area that sits maybe 25 people, it is a tight squeeze, we were fortunate because we got the only table that was next to the window and independent of the other tables.

What’s interesting about this butcher shop, you can order from the menu or you can order anything they have at their butcher shop, pay whatever price that item might be, and they will cook it for you “a la plancha” for a nominal fee of 9€.  That also goes for the wines, you can select any wine you want and they charge a flat 9€ corkage as well.


We perused the menu, and our friend recommended the côte de boeuf, he likes it bleue “rare” and I cannot eat rare meat, and JJ wanted the lamb, so our friend decided on the entrecote, which is traditional cut coming from the rib area of the beef.  So to start, we got the mix charcuterie with some terrines.  They were all excellent. I especially liked the chorizo for the chacuterie and one terrine in particular was our favorite, which was a pork terrine flavored, oddly enough, with turmeric and tarragon.


JJ and I both had the lamb chops. He had his rare and I had my medium.  Mine was cooked perfectly. I thought the potatoes were good, the skin could’ve been crunchier, but I none-the-less they were good.  The accompanying tiny salad was nice, it cut down some of the greasiness of the meat because of the vinaigrette dressing.  And, the béarnaise sauce that came along for dipping was nice.

Our friend ordered the entrecote, and like ours was plated with a salad and potatoes.  He asked for it bleue (rare) and it was cooked more to my liking, medium.  Oh well. So, he couldn’t eat it and he fortunately had a “baggie” and gave it to me to take home. Great, now I have something for dinner. He also thought his potatoes were just OK and heat temperature of the potatoes were not even, some hot and some warm.


As usual I had the cheese, and what a great selection they had. We unanimously agreed that the comté cheese (unpasteurized cow milk cheese), was our favorite. Nicely aged with perfect amount of saltiness.  Our next favorite was the aged brie, it had a pretty strong flavor and definitely an aged aroma, so if you don’t like “strong, smelly cheese” stay away from this one.  I wasn’t a fan of the chèvre (goat cheese) it was just so-so!

JJ had what they called “pudding with chocolate”.  It was a bread pudding with caramel sauce on top. I did not like this dessert at all. It was extremely heavy and dense. Although, the sweetness level was great for me, since it wasn’t too sweet, the overall texture and presentation just turned me off. It looked like an anemic meatloaf.

Our friend had the "Ile Flottante" I had a taste of this and definitely liked it. The meringue was very light and not too sweet, and the crème anglais was done perfectly. No complaint about this dish.


I think this is a good lunch place. Although they had some hits and misses, the products they sell are very, very good. Since all the meats are cooked “a la plancha”, in this case on a flat cast iron skillet, the style of cooking will pretty much be the same. The service was excellent. We kept asking our wait-person “what’s this, what’s that?” and she didn’t know the answer, but was kind enough to go ask someone and got to us relatively quickly with an answer.

This is a noisy restaurant, so not a place for a business meeting or a romantic lunch.  And, they’re not open for dinner, unless you want to have a private party for 15.

I would return. The products are great; however, the food isn’t cooked great and there is not a lot of variations in style of cooking, but cooked well. Let us not forget that first and foremost, this is a butcher shop, so it is basically a “meat and potatoes” place.

With 2-bottles of red wine (Le Jardin de Nina), and 2-glasses of muscadet, with 1 coffee our lunch came to 140E, so it’s not an inexpensive place for lunch.

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