PROVISIONS — BON APPETIT BEST NEW RESTAURANT NOMINEE

Yesterday I had oral surgery that I was not particularly looking forward to, and which will require me to be on a liquid/soft diet for about 3 weeks.  My husband, disappointed that we won’t be eating out for a while — at least not like we normally do — really pressed for a “last meal” out.  The choice of where to have our “last meal” was a no-brainer — Provisions.

Provisions was our favorite restaurant even before it opened.  We’d been to a couple of “pop-up” dinners that the two talented chefs, Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan, had put on, plus we’d sampled their food at several events.  When the restaurant opened last September, we were there the first week.

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 Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner

Provisions is the casual side of the twin-concept restaurant The Pass & Provisions.  (I’ve posted about the spectacular meals we enjoyed at the upscale The Pass here and here.) We’ve been there many times since it opened, but on this occasion we had such an exceptionally great experience that I wanted to share some of the wonderful dishes we had.  Coincidentally, that same day The Pass & Provisions received Bon Appetit’s nomination as one of the 50 best new restaurants of 2013 — it was the only Houston restaurant on the list, and the nomination was well-deserved.  Next week Bon Appetit will announce the Top 10 and my money is on these guys.  UPDATE:  Pass & Provisions is #6 on Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants in America 2013!

For the first time, we sat at the chef’s table — high stools pulled up to a counter around the wood-burning stove.  It was great having a bird’s-eye view of the massive kitchen, and of course, we loved being able to chat with the chefs and get their recommendations.

First up was one of our perennial favorites, Ham ‘O Day/Mustard/Rye:

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This dish consists of paper-thin slices of a rotating variety of hams (on this occasion it was a delicious serrano), with a rye aioli and dehydrated mustard sprinkled on top, evoking the flavors of a classic ham on rye sandwich.  The ham is sliced to order on this showy slicer:

003Here is Lance, the chef who mans the wood-burning oven and ham-slicing station, and one of our favorite guys to visit with at the restaurant:

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Next up was a dense and delicious Rabbit Pate en Croute with Apricot and Carrot Mostarda:

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I used to think I hated okra, but a few years ago I discovered how great it is roasted or grilled. Provisions’ okra, roasted in a cast-iron pan in the wood-burning stove, was an interesting twist with popped sorghum (think itty bitty popcorn), corn, and ancho.

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Scallop crudo with pickled peaches, cucumber, and radicchio was light and refreshing:

009Although everything we ordered was great, the dish that I am going back for as soon as I can eat solid food again is the Spicy Lamb Ribs with melon and sesame seeds.  I generally am not a big fan of lamb, but when the chef tells you it’s flying out the door and he can’t keep enough in stock, you gotta try it.  And it was amazing — the meat was fall off the bone tender, sweet and spicy, with a crunchy caramelized glaze, and the pickled melon and cucumber ribbons were the perfect accompaniment.  Honestly, these ribs were out of this world.

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We wrapped up with the Nutella Soft Serve Ice Cream with Potato Sprinkles and Sorghum Brittle, softly moaning with each spoonful:

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Anxious about my surgery the next day (which went fine, thankfully), I was not in the mood to go out that night.  But I am grateful that my husband pushed to me to go, and together we enjoyed one of the finest meals we’ve had in a long time.  Houston has an abundance of excellent restaurants, but Provisions is definitely our happy place, and the one we return to most often.

UPDATE:  Read about Provisions’ first anniversary party here.

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