Hot and Bothered

Provisions Bistro turns up the heat after morphing out of its Grenache beginnings

Fortunately, the appetizers were less comforting than predictable workhorse entrées such as coq au vin. Smoked shrimp wontons were stuffed with a pungent, sweetish sort of pâte so unshrimplike that Bart, a diehard pescetarian, suspected it was pork. They were, in any event, delicious dunked in hoisin. Another first course -- which I should have ordered as dessert -- became my favorite of the evening: warm peaches and a chunk of Spanish blue cheese drizzled with honey. The dish was a triumph of flavor and simplicity.

Simplicity, however, isn't always the key to success: I'd be a chump to recommend the orange roughy to anyone who actually likes food. It was baked in parchment with plain rice and a few vegetables -- no sauce, no seasoning, no fat, no flavor. And a salad of "heirloom" tomatoes with fresh mozzarella for which I'd had high hopes was anticlimactically bland and, at eight bucks for three small slices of overhyped tomato, kinda pricey (on another visit, the dish contained four slices, but still).

Making the case for a tad more complexity were a tender veal shank and a beef fillet grilled medium-rare, both cooked and sauced with no small finesse. The veal had a delicate, understated mustard sauce, the fillet a sophisticated brandy-peppercorn. Both came with excellent sautéed potatoes and were as good as any of their ilk that I have had in town.

Provisions Bistro, formerly Grenache, has shifted its culinary emphasis to casual "American" dishes.
Jennifer Silverberg
Provisions Bistro, formerly Grenache, has shifted its culinary emphasis to casual "American" dishes.

Location Info

Map

Provisions Bistro

7443 Forsyth Blvd.
St Louis, MO 63105-2103

Category: Restaurant >

Region: University City

The Wine & Cheese Place

7435 Forsyth Blvd.
Clayton, MO 63105

Category: Retail

Region: Clayton

Details

Crab-and-artichoke dip $6.95
Cabrales peaches $6.95
Tomato-and-mozzarella salad $7.95
Zucchini gratin $7.95
Coq au vin $9.95
Filet mignon $18.95
Cantaloupe sorbet $4.95

314-727-6833. Hours: lunch, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; dinner, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tue.-Sat. (bar menu available until 1 a.m.)

7443 Forsyth

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One particularly puzzling aspect of our Provisions experience was the amateur waitstaff. Twice we had servers who appeared to have never waited a table before in their lives. Not that they weren't friendly and hospitable; clearly they were giving it their best shot. We were pulling for 'em, too, but it was glaringly evident that they were hanging by a thread. They were unfamiliar with the menu, mixed up wine orders, seemed baffled by dessert cheese and committed all manner of minor gaffes that even a week on the job should have made impossible. Consequently, dinner became a painful sort of suspense drama (Will she bring the right wine this time? Will he drop the tray? Will we ever get the check?). At one point we were read a list of desserts, only to be left hanging long, long into the night. Eventually we gave up hope, counting ourselves lucky that we'd somehow gotten coffee (never mind that it was somebody else's, brought to us by mistake). The next time, though, Bart and I persevered through the considerable post-entrée lag. We were rewarded with a wonderful cantaloupe sorbet that was, we decided in about two seconds, worth the wait.

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