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Provence Restaurant is located in Stuyvesant Plaza, in Guilderland, and is situated towards the back of the shopping complex. The menu is very French, and the decor is quite classy; up to and including the open style kitchen centered along the left wall as you walk halfway into the establishment. At first you may think, "Hmm, should I have dressed up for this?" or "Wait, this upscale a restaurant, in a strip mall?" I do assure you that Provence manages to strike that balance, catering to a relaxed atmosphere, in an upscale environment.

Brian, and I had been to Provence at least once before. Although we knew what quality to expect, that would not dissuade us from providing a truthful account if we received anything less than that. I'm happy to report that in all but 1 aspect, Provence did not falter.

Since this meal was a special occasion, we decided to sample appetizers (and cocktails), in addition to our standard entree fare. Appetizers were the Bacon Wrapped Monkfish, and the Sizzling Chili Shrimp. For our entrees, I ordered the Canard au Cerises (pan seared duck breast). Brian ordered the small portion of Steak Frites, and tied that with an appetizer of the Lobster Mac & Cheese.

Our waiter for the evening was very knowledgeable, pleasant, and prompt. Bread was served, alongside a pesto/olive oil mixture. The bread would have been better warm, and the dipping accompaniment needed a touch of salt.

As we noshed on the bread, we took joy in watching the hustle and bustle of the kitchen. Our seats had a direct view.

The Sizzling Chili Shrimp were described as having a touch of red chili flake, but not being all that spicy. I would disagree. The sauce had a bit too much chili flake, providing a heat that was almost overpowering. I don't mind a little heat, but either the chef was heavy handed with the chili flakes, or the dish was described wrong. Also, the shrimp, although cooked perfectly, had an off taste that (to me) was very reminiscent of problems with freezer storage. Brian disagreed, but I couldn't deny the lingering, almost metalic, taste in my mouth that didn't dissipate until I ate and drank something else. Brian, though, enjoyed the shrimp thoroughly.

By contrast, I really enjoyed the monkfish. It was succulent, juicy, cooked perfectly, and wrapped in bacon. What more could you ask for? I also think the bacon helped bring out a natural saltiness that the monkfish has. It's a nice, rich flavor. I enjoyed this dish more than Brian.

Towards the end of our appetizers, Brian resumed his enjoyment of watching the staff in the open kitchen. A few moments later, he kind of gave me a confused look. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that he saw one of the waitresses plucking Frites (french fries) out of a fresh basket that was placed on the open kitchen counter (where the orders come from). Now, I was confused. Did the waitress order the Frites for herself?

No, she did not. We know this because, mere seconds later, Frites disappeared from that counter and Frites were delivered to our table...

I encouraged Brian to bring this to the attention of the restaurant's management. There was only 1 basket of Frites on that counter. It was the one Brian saw the waitress eating out of. Now that basket was no longer on the counter, and Frites were on our table.

Brian chose not to bring up the Frites. At best, the waitress had ordered, and was eating, Frites on her shift, straight from the open kitchen counter (I find myself not believing that to be the case). At worse, she ate someone's (Brian's) Frites. I find that unacceptable.

Our entrees arrived, and though there was a sour dampener on what we had witnessed, we still partook of the food.

My duck was perfectly cooked. The breast needed a little salt, and so did the confit potatoes, but the skin was wonderfully crispy and there was even some dark meat in the dish as well. Delightfully flavorful. The brandied cherries were a perfect touch, and that's the way to do a cherry sauce with a duck entree. Bravo.

Brian's steak was cooked more rare than he ordered, but it was tender and juicy. I won't talk about the Frites .. But, I will say that the lobster mac & cheese was "WOW!" It was a towering, overflowing, vessel that was oozing an AMAZING cheddar sauce, TONS of lobster meat, perfectly cooked elbow macaroni, and seasoned breadcrumbs. It's, by far, the best lobster mac & cheese I ever remember having.

Feeling well fed, we passed on dessert and waited for the check. The wait stretched for some time, and I was beginning to get frustrated at the sight of our waiter going in every direction, suddenly, but ours. To my pleasant surprise, when our waiter returned, he both acknowledged and deeply apologized for the wait. This man impressed me. I believe his name was Bill. {I bet he doesn't eat off of customer's plates.... Sorry, I just had to throw that in there one more time ...It angers me...}

Pilfered food notwithstanding, Provence really is a high quality restaurant. Unfortunately, I just don't feel I can have enough trust to go back, which is a real shame. A real shame, and it's one that I'm terribly unhappy about.

(More pictures below the final review)

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Sizzling Chili Shrimp

Bacon Wrapped Monkfish

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Lobster Mac & Cheese

Pan Seared Duck Breast





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Steak Frites (Frites not Pictured) Steak Frites
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The Frites