Nestled off Highway 190 on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain over the elongated Causeway Bridge in Lacombe, Louisiana sits La Provence Restaurant, a French eatery owned and overseen by renowned Chef John Besh. The approach to the eatery displays a cottage-esque setting announced by a brightly-colored sign featuring the Coat of Arms of Ramon Berenguer III, a Count of Barcelona who ruled Provence until 1246. Named after the historic provence of southeastern France, this establishment will delight not only your culinary cravings for superb cuisine, but will also set you at ease in its comforting setting, welcoming ambiance, and romantic surroundings.
The interior of the restaurant displays warm country-esque hues with a rustic feel. Relaxed and inviting, dining in any of the restaurant’ dining rooms will offer pure enlightenment from start to finish with its framed paintings of roosters (seemingly the restaurant’s mascot), a baby grand piano and French bar offering multi-country wine selections in the lounge, and antiques from Provence.
INSIDER’S TIP: Get the full effect of this amazing dining experience by dining near a roaring fireplace, taking a tour of the property to visit the livestock and herb garden, or dining in the romantic courtyard beside a trickling water fountain and towering Oaks overhead.
After sipping on a couple of glasses of wine, manager Kerry Kelley introduced herself to us and thanked us for patronizing the restaurant. Shortly thereafter, we were given a full tour of the eatery and dining rooms as well as the grounds behind the establishment. We had no idea what lied just beyond the restaurant itself. I immediately started snapping photos of the acreage behind the eatery, which furnished the setting for free range chickens, Mangalitsa pigs and a fresh herb and vegetable gardens. The Mangalitsa pigs are a Hungarian breed that are descendants of the wild boar. Known for their thick sheep-like curly hair that covers their body, they are now known as a rare breed. Most of the culinary surprises that are offered on the menu come straight front the farm behind the restaurant, further enhancing the eatery’s farm-to-table practice.
Fresh Herb & Vegetable Gardens, Expansive Farmland & One of the Mangalitsa Pigs On The Farm
The courtyard exists between the intimate lounge and a spacious banquet room perfect for weddings, receptions, and other large gatherings. A calming water fountain trickles off to one side of the stucco-wall-enclosed bricked space appointed with black wrought iron tables and chairs. Flourishing greenery perfects this outdoor area, while towering Oaks overhead bring the countryside in and make a fascinating addition to the patio.
View Of the Restaurant Coutyard
INSIDER’S TIP: For you SavorHour ladies out there, take along a pair of sneakers to slip on after you arrive at the restaurant. That will make it much easier to take a tour of the grounds before your meal. You can always switch back into those five-inch heels for dinner!
We returned inside, and our server, Brandy, reappeared with a presentation of crisp French Bread crostini-like ovals of perfectly-colored French bread and a ramekin of the restaurant’s unbelievable Duck Liver Pate.
La Provence Spectacular Duck Liver Pate
I’m a huge fan of pumpkin ravioli, so when I spotted that starter from the list of appetizing-sounding choices to begin our meal, I had to order it. The brown butter and spiced pumpkin seeds delivered unforgettable flavor to the dish, while the local Satsuma sections punched up the vibrancy of hue along with the crispy ham that made for quite intriguing photos. On top of it all, a delectable pumpkin conglomeration was stuffed inside striking squid-ink ravioli for a presentation that proved very easy on our visual perception, and extremely pleasing to our taste buds.
Our server suggested the Roast Heirloom Beet and Smoked Shrimp Salad, and personally explained the many reasons why it was one of her favorites. We were quick to take her advice, then understood why she was so excited about this menu selection when we took the first bite of this colorful conglomeration of Sylvetta arugula, horseradish, and pickled mirliton in addition to the succulent smoked shrimp and flavorful sliced beets.
Roast Heirloom Beet & Smoked Shrimp Salad
More wine and another ramekin of the sensational Duck Liver Pate, and we were just about as satisfied as we could be. But our dinner entrees were en route to our table, and we were eager to see what would be curing our eagerly anticipating appetites. Before arriving with our dinner selections, our server delivered hot dinner rolls to us with a ramekin of sweet cream butter that nearly melted in our mouths with each light and airy bite.
Freshly Baked Dinner Rolls
The Crispy Gulf Drum preparation arrived as though it was an artistic painting. The ample serving of brown butter Hollandaise was placed on one side of the serving dish, while on the other side one of the most handsome fillets of breaded fish awaited our satisfaction of that first bite to be taken and enjoyed. The jumbo lump crabmeat that was piled atop this savory selection just kept the flavor coming, while the tender mushrooms that were added gave the visually appealing offering another element of appeal and sensational earthy flavor.
Crispy Gulf Drum
And the evening just kept getting better as we went along. My entrée selection for the evening was the Mangalitsa Pork, which was prepared in traditional pork chop style, but so pleasantly different from anything we had enjoyed before. A creamy and succulent celery root puree was added, as well as beech mushrooms and perfectly roasted potatoes all in a savory smoked pork au jus. At that point, I never wanted to leave. I just longed to remain at our table and indulge in more and more throughout the remainder of the night until the sun arose the next day. Our happiness was certainly an understated pleasure.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without trying something from the sweeter side of the restaurant’s varied selection of sensational cuisine. We indulged in two of the eatery’s favorite indulgences…the Chocolate Pavlova with chocolate mousseline and salted caramel, fresh berries and a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, and the Lemon Clafouti with its citrusy flavored conglomeration of blueberries and fromage blanc. Additionally, we selected a carafe of the eatery’s sinful full-bodied coffee served in a French press coffee pot to awaken us from our culinary coma that we were so delighted to be overtaken by.
Chocolate Pavlova, Lemon Clafouti & After-Dinner Coffee
We knew to expect great things from another Chef John Besh restaurant before experiencing La Provence. The unexpected surprise of touring the restaurant’s farm-like acreage behind the eatery was an added bonus in which we were happy to partake. Such a thorough inclusion to such a fine dining experience at La Provence Restaurant. We cannot wait to return again for another succulent memorable meal together.
- ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: We felt as though we were dining in a chic country chalet fireside on a chilly evening with all the warmth indoors we needed between the fireplaces, exceptional welcome and customer service from the staff, and calming hues throughout the eatery. The Provincial antiques, countryside decorum, and homey ambiance set us at complete ease, while the service was seamless from beginning to end.
- FOOD / DRINK: You can’t get much fresher ingredients than what you’ll find at La Provence Restaurant. With herbs and vegetables coming straight from the gardens behind the eatery, and farm-to-table pork and eggs from free-range chickens that roam the property, you just cannot go wrong. There are also several fine wines and signature cocktails available to chose from, so don’t be shy! The kitchen can also accommodate any gluten-free or vegan diets, so just let the hostess know when you make your reservation, and they will take care of that for you.
- LOCATION: La Provence is located at 25020 Highway 190 in Lacombe, LA 70445.
- HOURS: Open Wednesday through Saturday for dinner at 5:00 PM until 9:00 PM, and on Sundays for Brunch from 11:00 AM through 3:00 PM, and again for dinner from 3:00 PM until 9:00 PM.
- SERVICE / STAFF: Our server, Brandi, was courteous, friendly, and exceptionally knowledgeable about the restaurant and the evening’s menu. Her suggestions were spot on, and we enjoyed conversing with her at various intervals throughout our meal. We appreciated meeting manager Kerry, as well as Chef de Cuisine Erick Loos. Kerry’s professional and sincere demeanor made us feel very special and welcome, while Chef Eric’s explanation of the property, cuisine, and passion for what he does was astounding to hear, and a pleasure to know.
- PRICE / VALUE: Without a doubt, some of the best pricing for this type of upscale French cuisine in the area (including the Crescent City!) that we’ve discovered, and certainly worth a drive over the Causeway Bridge from the city to enjoy such a fine dining experience.
- CORKAGE FEE: We’re happy to report that there is NO CORKAGE FEE at La Provence Restaurant!
- CONTACT INFO: Phone:(985) 626-7662, Website: http://www.laprovencerestaurant.com
- PARKING: Ample complimentary self-parking is available in front of and along the side of the establishment.
- PRICING: The Pumpkin Ravioli was priced at $12, while the Heirloom Beet & Smoked Shrimp Salad came in at a fair $11. My husband’s Crispy Gulf Drum was an acceptable $29, and my selection of the Mangalitsa Pork was an approachable $32. The Lemon Clafouti and the Chocolate Pavlova desserts were both fairly priced at $8 apiece.
* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.