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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Portland, OR: On Again, Off Again ... C'est La Vie (That's Life)

Petite Provence
1824 NE Alberta Street
Portland, OR 97211
Phone number (503) 284-6564
Website: provencepdx.com
Prices: $$$$

Yay! I love French food and am not easily impressed, but I was impressed, at least on my first visit. That visit was for their Happy Hour, so I will reserve a couple of stars for future visits, one way or the other, depending on how dinner, lunch and breakfast pan out. Based on that single experience, I did not think things would digress, but time did tell and I was not nearly as impressed on my second visit.
Visit #1 - I had an IPA ($4) to start things off, then we ordered from the Happy Hour Menu (3-6PM - M-F), all about $5 each. In order to sample as many things as possible, my wife and I shared four Happy Hour plates, a Mushroom and Gruyere Crepe, Macaroni and Cheese Au Gratin with toast, Mussels in a Coconut Red Curry sauce with pom frites (French fries), and a Kobe Beef Slider also with pom frites.

The slider was good, but being only one small burger with aioli sauce on a bun and a paltry amount of fries, it was not the best value on the menu. The Mac and Cheese was plentiful and delicious with sauteed onion inside and baked with cheese and breadcrumbs on top, served with three pieces of grilled baguette toast. The crepes were small, a half each for a total of one full crepe, but savory with a nice white cheese sauce and sauteed mushrooms. Finally, my favorite, were the red curry mussels with 10-12 fresh mussels in a creamy, spicy, yummy red curry sauce with a decent portion of seasoned fries on the side.


Being one of four parties inside, the service was attentive, friendly and excellent. The place is quaint with lots of wood and a European feel and they even have tables on the sidewalk Parisian-style. They also have an array of baked goods (pastries, breads) and a huge display case full of delightful, sweet cakes, pies, tarts and other delectable morsels that dazzle the eye as well as the nose and tongue. My single complaint was the absence of paper towels in both (unisex) bathrooms, having had to dry my hands on toilet paper or toilet seat covers ... YUK.
For $28 and change plus tip ($35), we ate quite well and were stuffed by the time we left. No room for dessert, even though my wife has a sweet tooth the size of Manhattan and rarely passes on the final course. 
Visit #2 - I visited PP for the second time on Father's Day, arriving around 9PM after a round of golf (they close at 10PM). The sign said "please wait to be seated", so I stood there like a gidrulo (Italian dialect slang for "dumb ass", but literally meaning "cucumber") for a good five minutes while employees walked back and forth, ignoring me as if I were not there and not even saying "welcome, we'll be with you in a minute". I was finally approached by a server with a man-bun, taking me to a table outside on the sidewalk on the beautiful, mild late spring evening. 
Everything was going fine. Knowing they were closing in less than an hour and not wanting to waste time, I ordered an IPA and then asked my server for a bowl of French onion soup ($6.95) and the Chicken Cordon Bleu ($16) for my entree. Less than 10 minutes later, man-bun arrived with my soup AND entree ... at the same time! 

For those of you who know me, you know all too well that if you really want to piss me off, bring my entree while I am still eating my appetizer, soup, and/or salad. It is my ultimate pet peeve, so when the soup and entree arrived together, I was far less than pleased, asking the server to please take the entree away until I was done with my soup. Anybody who has been a server for a week or more knows that you never bring different courses together unless specifically asked to do so which I had not.
The soup was very average and I would not order it again at $6.95. Nuff said. The chicken was good, but a tad burnt, a little dry, and extremely hot (likely having sat under the warmer for 15-20 minutes while I ate my very hot soup). Sitting atop a very small portion of runny mashed potatoes with some green beans in between, the tarragon beurre blanc (tarragon, butter and white wine) sauce was tasty, but there was not nearly enough of it either. A little more sauce would have made the dry chicken a bit more palatable.
What a dilemma! Such a good experience on visit #1 only to be followed by a very mediocre experience on visit #2. I thought I had found our new Portland go-to spot on Alberta, but now I am not so sure. 

I look forward to returning at least one more time for happy hour, breakfast, lunch and/or dinner and hope all will be as delightful as it was on our initial experience. If not, we may not be back and may head down the street to Swiss Hibiscus or across town the Chez Machin where I know I will get a good, consistent meal and service.
CombatCritic Downgrades Petite Provence (Alberta) From 8 Bombs Out Of 10 To 7 Bombs Out Of 10 ... A Very Modest And Generous Deduction For Such Inexcusable Faux Pas ... More Bombs Are Better!
Seven Bombs Equates To:
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Title: Portland, OR: On Again, Off Again ... C'est La Vie (That's Life)

Key Words: Petite Provence, French, cafe, bakery, boulangerie, Alameda, outdoor, seating, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, Portland, Oregon, business, review, Yelp, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: S&G = "Shits & Grins"

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