Provisions, the restaurant that took over the space formerly held by Van Horne this past August, has earned its first review. It's a mixed bag from Lesley Chesterman. On the one hand, the Gazette critic recognizes the talents of chefs Hakim Rahal and Pablo Rojas, and the front-of-house prowess of co-owner Tina An. On the other hand, Chesterman is less sold on the free-form "spur-of-the-moment cuisine."
"Though customers have an idea of the ingredients on offer, the meal is basically a big surprise," writes Chesterman. There are benefits to this menu methodology, but the critic "cannot deny that the control-freak diner in me had a tough time with the 'surprise-me' concept." And, yet, the kitchen manages to impress with starters like "a gorgeous dish" of crab rolls, celery, and a slow-cooked egg; a halloumi and tomato salad; and seared beef, with cucumber, split fava beans, sesame seeds and seared shallots. Of the latter, Chesterman admits "there was a lot going on here, but the results were delicious."
Other dishes, however, push "the multi-ingredient idea too far." Tongue with caramelized cauliflower, lettuce, herbs, and a purée, has "little harmony." The critic enjoys aspects of three other plates (cod cheeks, black cod, pork) but, too often, the "jumble of ingredients and flavours never left much of a lasting impression." Happily, desserts at Provisions evince more focus; Chesterman quite likes her brown butter ice cream, and homemade Oreo ice cream with chocolate cookies and chocolate mousse.
The final verdict for Provisions from the Gazette critic is a good news/bad news scenario. "I end this review with a thought: despite the effort, the technique, the plethora of ideas and the sharp service, Provisions just didn’t do it for me." Chesterman still thinks that many may fall for the format at the Outremont restaurant, however. As such, a respectable two and a half stars on four.