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City focus for French restaurateurs


The owners of award-winning French restaurant La Provence have decided to sell their original eatery at Willunga to focus fully on the Adelaide business, with plans to introduce regular regional-themed dinners from later this month.

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Husband and wife Tarik Marco and Sandrine Maltret opened Le Mistral in Willunga early last year on the site previously occupied by Fino, introducing what they describe as French “regional rustic” cuisine.

Then in April this year they launched La Provence in Pirie Street, which was named best new city restaurant in the 2017 SA Restaurant and Catering Awards for Excellence.

The couple’s original intention was to split their time between the two premises.

“It [Le Mistral] is kind of our first baby so I didn’t initially plan to sell it, but the project in the inner city is big and Le Mistral requires more energy,” Marco says, explaining why he was reluctantly decided to put the Willunga restaurant on the market.

“It’s a bit complicated to be in two places at once!”

Sandrine Maltret and Tarik Marco outside Le Mistral when it opened last year.

He says things have been hectic at La Provence, where renovations were recently completed on a new upstairs function space which opened this week and can sit up to 150 people.

On October 27, the restaurant will launch a series of monthly dinners focusing on the food of different regions of France in what is dubbed Le Tour de France du Gout (“The Tour de France of Taste”). There are also plans to introduce live, acoustic French music on Fridays.

Although a number of Adelaide fine-dining restaurants have closed this year – including Mexican restaurant Kua, which opened only in late 2016 – Marco says La Provence has been well-received by diners.

He was thrilled it was acknowledged in the SA Restaurant and Catering Awards.

“It wasn’t a piece of cake opening, but when things get hard you have to find your market … you have to achieve the atmosphere and the quality of the produce.

“The only thing is in Adelaide, and it’s probably not only in Adelaide … is that you have to always be aware of the price point with premium produce.”

Dining at La Provence. Photo: Gary Pore

With chef Chris Matuhina (formerly of Magill Estate and Chloe’s) at the helm, La Provence has a menu inspired by the classic flavours of the south of France, but highlighting South Australian produce.

Marco says they have also decided to introduce lighter and more casual menu items, including cheese and meat platters, for those who only want to have a small bite with a glass of wine.

Meanwhile, in Willunga, Le Mistral is still open for business – and it has just introduced a spring menu, complete with snail pie.


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