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Provence Redux

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Do I prefer Provence 2.0 to the classic, frumpier version? I think I do. Freeman and her partner don’t always produce the absolute best food in town, but they’re masters at creating a sense of warm, fuzzy bonhomie. Sit in the garden room, enjoy a glass or two of frosty rosé, and you may not actually care whether your pissaladière is a little greasy or that your shrimps are underdone.

The desserts, for their part, are simple and straightforward in a faithfully Provençal way. There are plates of dates stuffed with mascarpone; slices of good, rich chocolate-almond cake; and a smooth lemon-and-rhubarb tart made with a crumbly, fresh-rolled crust. Then there’s the Pavlova, a cloud of hard meringue with a decorative scoop of passion-fruit sorbet in its middle, like a hen’s egg. Crack it open and the sorbet drops into a layer of soft whipped cream, just like some confection you might encounter while sitting among hordes of German tourists in a sunny café by the beach in Cannes.


Provence
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Address: 38 Macdougal St., nr. Prince St.; 212-475-7500.
Hours: Dinner, Monday through Saturday 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. Sunday to 10 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers, $8 to $12; entrées, $18 to $27.
Ideal Meal: Duck and pork rillettes, lamb cutlet, Pavlova.
Note: If you want a refreshing summer cocktail, try the Byrrh Cassis, made with crème de cassis, sparkling water, and a splash of sweet fortified wine called Byrrh.
Scratchpad: The new room merits two stars, but the food isn’t quite there yet. So is this a destination restaurant? Not quite. Let’s call it an inspired neighborhood joint.


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