Not situated in anywhere one really wants to be, Bistro Provence sets the scene for a provincial dinner near Washington. It must really only cater for a local trade as a twenty-five-minute taxi ride from central Washington hardly makes it a draw for visitors to America's capital. If getting there is bad enough, it is well-neigh impossible to find a taxi on the streets of Bethesda after 9 p.m. and that was what was recommended by the staff at Bistro Provence.
The atmosphere was fine - a long narrow room with an open - and noisy - kitchen at the end to one side, with a large garden beyond is suitably decorated for a provincial restaurant, dated and dull but clean and perfectly pleasant. The menu seemed well-balanced and thoroughly provincial, as expected, though both I and my guest had the recommended specials. Veal chops were well cooked, vast and slightly gauche - plain, simple fair.
Service was not as attentive as it could be nor should have been considering the restaurant was only half full, but we were in no hurry for anything, though the check came with remarkable speed when asked for, always a sure sign that they can do it when they want to and that the manager is not on his toes. There is some minor 'celebrity' chef associated with this place I understand, but there was no evidence of him or her in either the feel of the room or the food on the plates.
The wine list was stupid beyond belief and a disgrace. I have no problem whatsoever with a restaurant making the majority of their profit from beverages, but the mark-up here was eye-watering. And it was not even as if the list was particularly good, interesting, innovative or challenging.....it was thoroughly provincial, which probably explains the massive prices charges, seeing as how it must be so difficult to get good wine in this lonely, distant corner of Maryland.
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