I love a good chunk of rustic charm. Having grown up in the middle of “Where the heck is that?” in Central New South Wales, something about a restaurant that looks like it wouldn’t be out of place in a vineyard really speaks to me.
The Provincial is cut right out of the sunny, tree-dotted campagnes of southern France, and, between the corrugated iron walls and polished timber windows, you get the sense that you’re about to dine in a very fancy abandoned church. In fact, the window itself has been directly taken from the old CBA in Martin Place, and large caramel timber beams cut through the whitewashed inner facade. Solid leather and timber furniture adorns the bright open space, and French antiques hand-picked from local markets complete the detailing.
The Provincial is a passion project between brothers John Paul and Joe Hawach, and showcases a blend of family cooking and Franco-Argentinian flair.
The shining star of the venue is a wildfire charcoal parrilla, reminiscent of the grand Argentinian tradition of family barbecue. However, this grill – crafted from iron and Queensland fruit tree – was made in Spain, and is the centrepoint of the entire menu.
Despite the name, the food here is a little more upmarket than provincial. Which is a decidedly Rozellean trait – the folks here aren’t averse to chucking an extra dime in the pot for a quality feed. A balance of sophistication and familiarity is the mode du jour.
But onto the food, lovingly crafted by executive chef Patrick Dang, a master of French cuisine and the humble Spanish barbecue. I’m greeted by the glorious Frenchman Florian, who brings out a rosé-inspired cocktail as big as my head. It’s delicious. Very sweet, but on a 40-degree day the fact it is cold is enough for me. We start with scallops: the soft and creamy consistency is beautifully complemented by the radish chicken crackling.
Side note: this reviewer is revelling in the trend of restaurants making stuff that is not a chip, into a chip. It’s a theme, apparently. ★★★★★
A predominately European wine list features a selection of wines by the glass and bottle, while a cocktail menu of Bellinis and a fusion of fruits like pineapple, cucumber and agave is on offer. The Provincial martini packs a punch, with Mr Black espresso, vanilla and Ketel One vodka.
New England Lamb Short loin with White bean hummus
A beautiful heirloom tomato salad is brought out with a prime rib and a wagyu short rib which, expectedly, falls off the bone. The watermelon salsa is a nice touch, bringing a freshness to the meat without a full side salad. The plating is beautiful, and the serving sizes err on the side of generous. Our meat is paired with a Shaky Bridge Pinot Noir from central Otago, New Zealand – an adventurous but delightful choice, with a palate of dark chocolate and spices.
Marinated strawberry three ways with basil ice cream and pistachio sponge
For dessert we sample the dark chocolate, infused with Earl Grey and green tea cake; a marinated strawberry three ways with a gorgeous basil ice cream and pistachio sponge; and the deconstructed lemon cheesecake with Chantilly cream and lime sugar. The marinated strawberries are a delight; a simple yet well-executed idea that is beautifully matched with fresh basil ice cream, which, don’t worry, is anything but savoury.
Deconstructed lemon meringue pie with Chantilly cream and lime sugar
Overall, if you’re looking for a venue that can offer fine dining at a more than fair price, then look no further than this new haunt in Rozelle. Although you may want to call ahead: it’s been booked out almost every weekend since its opening in January.
PRICE PER MAIN
The Provincial is located at Union Place, 124 Terry St, Rozelle. To make a booking or more details go to theprovincial.co.