Provender, E11 2AA
- 020 8530 3050
- 17 Wanstead High Street, E11 2AA
Brasserie-style French restaurant in Wanstead.
Inside, the decor is smart and clean, and a patio at the front seats 16 at tightly-packed tables under an awning. Napkins are thick cloth, teatowel-style.
Kake visited on a Friday lunchtime in August 2013. Music was playing quietly. There were three other parties in when I arrived around 1pm; by the time I left the patio was full, though there was plenty of space inside.
They have both an a la carte menu (photos: 1, 2, 3) and a prix fixe menu photo. I chose two courses (£10.75) from the latter, starting with breakfast radishes and celeriac remoulade, and continuing with whiting fillet served with brown shrimp and crushed potatoes.
The radishes photo were lovely and fresh, and the accompanying fleur de sel was exactly the right grain size for radish-dipping. The celeriac remoulade used just the right amount of a tartly but not harshly vinegary mayonnaise.
The whiting photo was disappointing. The skin was left on, but was chewy rather than crisp, and the flesh was overcooked to the point of going hard on one edge. I suspect there may have been timing issues, with the dish being finished too soon and left to sit under a heat lamp. The crushed potatoes were very buttery — more so than I would really have liked — but the shrimp interspersed with them gave a bright briny note that I quite enjoyed, and the fresh herbs and coriander seed in the sauce vierge helped the butteriness from becoming overwhelming.
Service was the type I like; the staff were there as soon as I needed something, but there was no hovering, and at no point did anyone interrupt me to ask me how my food was (a practice I find fairly pointless and a little irritating). Tap water arrived in a jug with ice, and was replenished swiftly when near-empty with no need to ask. A 12.5% service charge was added to the bill.
Kake's verdict: Although my fish was under par, I'd give them another chance on the strength of the vegetables and the service.
Child-friendliness: They have a separate children's menu, and at least one high chair (though it's a type with no tray and very little back support).
Accessibility: No steps to get in, or to the patio. There are three steps up and then another three down again to get to the toilets, with no handrails or anything else to hold onto. The cubicles in the ladies' are quite small.