Restaurant review: Provender, Wanstead

Last week, we went for a sunday lunch at Provender, on Wanstead High Street, in North East London.

It’s a small French restaurant, and pretty much every table was taken, including the small area outside (we’d booked in advance). The interior is bright, and tasteful, without being pretentious.

We had the big starter platter – Hors d’oeuvre “Royale” – which was frankly amazing. Charcuterie, a very nice rilette, and a celeriac remoulade that I will have to experiment with. The other side of the platter was fish – smoked salmon, salmon mousse, and small sections of what looked like sword fish (I don’t eat fish). The charcuterie was spectacular – two sliced dried sausage varieties that were subtle, but each had a distinctive flavour I can still taste 2 days later…

My main was the steak tartare. I love tartare – it’s hard to find in the UK. The Provender tartare was minced by hand, and it makes a difference – the texture was much more interesting. The flavour was robust – the seasoning was just the right side of aggressive, and the meat was clearly from a good butcher.

My lunch partner had the coquilles St Jacques, served with saffron risotto. She smiled beatifically, and reported a state of bliss.

For desert, I had the blackcurrant sorbet – rich with a cassis liqueur, and very fruity. My lunch partner chose the chocolate tart, which may well be the most chocolatey thing I have ever tasted.

We had a nice bottle of wine; the total bill came to just over £100. Excellent value for money.
Thoroughly recommended.

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