If you love lamb, order the New Zealand rack of lamb marinated in chermoula, a North African spice mixture that includes paprika, cumin and lemon. De Rouen serves two meaty chops on a divided plate.
One tender chop comes with a graceful fresh mint sauce; the other with a spunky harissa emulsion. Thickly sliced duck breast avoids cliché with a blackberry sauce with a jolt of vinegar in it.
She cooks everybody's favorite boneless beef short ribs so that the beef retains its texture. Right now, she's serving them with potato purée whipped with Morbier cheese, sautéed wild mushrooms and the braising juices. Ask the kitchen to hold the truffle oil, though (and they actually remember, fancy that).
If your tastes run to the classic and simple, order the Angus beef filet, a truly fine piece of meat with a deep, beefy flavor. It's served with a heap of fries and some sunburst squash. For $10 less, the grilled flank steak is every bit as satisfying, flanked by potato purée, watercress salad and an emerald chimichurri sauce.
Other entrees, especially the tomato-basil soup, halibut and rotisserie chicken are not so special.
Attention to wine
Splichal cares about wine and it shows in the lists for his restaurants. This one has an entire page of half bottles, perfect if you're just two and want to have a white and a red. They're not exactly an inexpensive option, though, since most are more than $50.
The full wine list is excellent, offering multiple vintages for some wines and a broad swath of mostly California and French wines, including alternatives to Chardonnay or Cabernet.
The one outstanding dessert is the Valrhona chocolate bread pudding, the soft chunks of bread permeated with deep, dark chocolate. Apple tart seems a bit lazy: It's simply apples in caramel sauce spooned between two pieces of puff pastry, assembled rather than cooked together.
Unfortunately, the gelato -- made in the Patina Group central kitchen, according to our waiter -- has a refrigerator taste. Wherever these ice creams are made, they warrant a big fat C.
Though Pinot Provence doesn't outshine Marché Moderne across the street, De Rouen shows her stuff with a well-executed bistro menu. I just wish she had the chance to show more of her own cooking and sensibility here in a job that seems more like a place holder than anything else.
But then, when you're merely an officer in the army, you go where the general tells you to go.