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“Onward & Upward at Provence!”
Review of Provence

Provence
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Ranked #10 of 76 Restaurants in Carrboro
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $31 - $40
Cuisines: French
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Romantic
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Outdoor Seating, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: North Greensboro Street
Durham, North Carolina
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Onward & Upward at Provence!”
Reviewed February 1, 2014

This was our first visit to "Provence" in its current iteration. It was taken over about 18 months ago by chef/owner Baptiste Knaven. He is a very creative individual who has taught the Culinary Arts at several academic institutions over the years; for example try his deep-fried olives sometime (you will need to mention these in advance when you go)! To begin, the food: the menu is classic Provence (France!) as you can glean from their website. My wife and I decided on seafood – the Flounder Meuniere was extraordinary, sliced so very thin that it might well have been the more familiar Sole version. Since genuine sole is hard to find in North Carolina waters, let alone found fresh in restaurants, Knaven has cleverly substituted flounder - and fresh it was! It was also succulent with the perfect blend of butter, lemon and garlic one would expect from a fine Paris eatery.The side dishes of Pilaf rice (or garlic mashed potatoes), broccoli and squash were prepared with just the right amount of cooking to retain their freshness. One detail that must be mentioned: the dishes were actually served on HOT plates - an essential feature rarely found in most restaurants in this area! The wine list appears well balanced both in pricing and varieties from various regions in France as well as from other countries. We have the habit of checking their ratings on a mobile device (Corkz is highly recommended; Provence does have internet access). We actually selected a light Malbec ($36) that went beautifully with the seafood. The desserts are also classic French - the Creme Brulée (homemade - of course!) - was perfect with just the right balance of "cold" custard and propane-fired warm sugar atop it. So far five stars. But a few words about the service. On the plus side we can't say enough about how well we were greeted and seated by both the owner and his staff, especially as we were nearly an hour late on a Friday night having been delayed by a longer-than-anticipated concert at UNC in Chapel Hill. (It happens that Knaven is a jazz lover - this music is used as soft background "sounds" that actually helps form the bistro/brassiere-like atmosphere of the establishment together with some interesting original art on the walls). On the other hand the waitpersons (servers?!) could stand a little tweaking in taking initiative to offer items such as drinks, side orders of bread, and in their of knowledge of wines etc. However it must be said that our waitperson made every effort to be helpful and couldn’t have been nicer, and she certainly was most enthusiastic about Provence. And so were we!

  • Visited February 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Peter I
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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143 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    75
    39
    15
    10
    4
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
NORTH CAROLINA
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
22 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Neighborhood gem”
Reviewed January 20, 2014

On recent trip to Chapel Hill my wife and I had a delightful meal at Provence. The setting is very intimate and small. Joe, our waiter, was superb. The onion soup was great and we shared the trout dish and were completely satisfied.

Only miscue was that they ran out of martini glasses!

We will return

  • Visited January 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank RS82547
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
25 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Great Start to 2014”
Reviewed January 7, 2014

My wife and I visited Provence for New Years Eve dinner. We have eaten at Provence previously and the food had always been very good, but a recent experience there indicated that the new management had stepped the whole dining experience up a couple of notches there. We usually go out for dinner on New Years to start the year with a great meal in a place that has a warm atmosphere. Provence certainly filled that order for us. They made us feel very welcomed from the moment we walked in. We had a table for 2 in the cozy bar area and our server was very prompt to come over and greet us and offer us drinks, even though there was a full house. Our drinks came quickly and were perfectly done. The menu for New Years was a Prix Fixe with enough options to make anyone happy. I asked for the sommeliers assistance to select a wine and Philippe was very knowledgeable and helpful. He wanted to know our tastes and budget as well as recommend a good wine pairing for our meal. The food came out quickly, but not too quickly, it was well paced. The food was wonderful. My wife had the escargot baked in Roquefort while I had the winter salad with poached lobster tail - both decadent and delicious. Both perfectly cooked as escargot and lobster can be tough or rubbery if over-cooked and these were tender and succulent. We both chose filet mignon which was served with seared foie gras and red wine reduction sauce, roasted broccolini and garlic mashed potatoes. All were perfectly prepared and delicious. I'm not a huge foie gras fan, but with the beef and sauce it was just awesome! The Margaux that had been recommended by Philippe was a perfect pairing with the food. We shared a dessert of chocolate terrine which was to die for. Without a doubt, we kicked off 2014 with a great meal, in a very warm, inviting atmosphere. We will definitely eat at Provence more often than we have in the past.

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank NaturePhotog_52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durham, North Carolina
Level 6 Contributor
195 reviews
105 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
“Trying to be a 5 star restaurant... unsuccessfully”
Reviewed January 6, 2014

I wanted to like this place! Such a cute house from the outside with eccentric decorations and usually pretty good reviews. However, we may have caught them on a bad night.

The restaurant was completely empty (we saw 3 tables total while we were there) on a Friday night at 7:30. Not a great sign to start. It may have been that UNC hadn't started back after the holiday. While we were greeted promptly, and seated, the waitress took quite a while to get our drink orders. For an empty restaurant - this was frustrating.

The cocktails were weak and pretty uninspired. Wine list was also very limited by the glass and didn't provide much insight. I asked what would compliment my meal choice and neither the waitress or manager had a good (or any) suggestions. Instead asked what kind of wine I like.

The two redeeming qualities where the escargot and the bread - very yummy.

I got the whole fish of the day which was sea bass. The flavor and preparation of the fish itself was delicious. The WORST part though - I paid $31 for this fish which was prepared table side. This was deemed the appropriate time to train our waitress. Not only did they stop on multiple occasions to run food and attend to the 2 other tables in the restaurant - it was done in a sloppy style and there were at least 10 rather large bones remaining in the fish.

In addition to the poor presentation - the side items were terrible. the mushrooms were two hard, dried up lumps, the rice could have come from an Uncle Ben's bag and the broccoli spear and slice of tomato (yes - one each) was some how dry and undercooked.

Overall the restaurant was average at best. When they are charging the prices they are - it needs to be well above average. We also just felt awkward there. Not a great experience.

  • Visited January 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
3 Thank Anngie22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oslo, Norway
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Lunch recommended be aware of seating”
Reviewed December 29, 2013

Our experience with this restaurant was very good when it comes to the food, fresh, delicious and tasty. one thing you have to be aware of is were they Seat you, we were seated in the bar area, a small dark room with bad chairs.

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Hilde J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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