Provision • 100 N. Section St., Fairhope, AL 36532 • 251-850-5004
The idea of a “something for everyone” business has never turned me on. My idea of a good shop is one that shows me what it is they do best. At least, that’s what I thought.
I was working in Fairhope the other day at a place called Provision. Though they have been open since May 2020 (a great time to open, eh?), this would be my first visit. I didn’t know what to expect, but was a little overwhelmed when I walked in. It’s part food market, part coffee shop, part home goods store, part wine retailer, part bar and part restaurant. Maybe they deal in art a bit, too.
I got the mini rundown and tour from the very knowledgeable Carmen, seemingly my contact for the evening. Carmen was covering the coffee shop part, standing over coolers of kombucha and boutique sodas, and a case of baked goods and salads. She was in charge of telling me where to stand, if I was too loud and what to get when I take a break. She was my handler, and she started me off with a wonderfully unsweet decaf latte.
My evening was going pretty well, and when I took a break I treated myself to a Rosé De Printemps ($10). This “rosé of spring” was sort of my farewell to summer as the thermometer had fallen a good bit that day. This was a great close-out, very dry with a nice taste of strawberry and a little vanilla. It was good enough that I had a second for my next set.
When I closed out the night, the kitchen was still open. I sat down with my good friend Michael Ramsey and sampled some dips. The hummus ($8) came recommended. Served with warm pita strips, the smooth hummus had a healthy dash of paprika on top. Hummus isn’t something I do backflips for, but this one was very nutty and I liked the presentation. Michael wasn’t bashful about digging in, which I appreciated.
There was no way I was missing out on the West Indies Salad dip ($12). This very large bowl of one of Mobile’s mother dishes came with flat, sourdough crackers. The hard crackers wilted in the juice, and I was hooked. I like this version, the shareable aspect of it, and it was totally something I didn’t expect in a place like this. I think the crabmeat was augmented with a little fish to bulk it up, but the flavor was wonderful. I will get this again. The leftovers were amazing.
I left with an armload of things to try on my time, Carmen guiding my choices, and Katie and I had late-night snacks while watching an Ole Miss nail-biter. I had only dipped, of course, so we tore into some salads. The first of which was the shrimp salad ($7, 8 oz.). It was an interesting mix of medium shrimp, loosely chopped, with edamame, celery and red onion, coated in a light dressing with a good dose of fresh dill, visible throughout. I expected the dill to overpower, but the flavor was much milder. This one gets an A for sure.
With more celery and red onion, the chicken salad ($7) had a much darker flavor than the bright shrimp. Slivered almonds may have helped shape that, and I couldn’t believe I liked the chicken salad better. I hate when the meat is pulverized, and this one stayed perfectly chunky. We didn’t break out the crackers or bread — just straight chicken salad with the fork.
Not to be outdone, the broccoli salad ($7) balanced out our veggie deficit. This place loves their red onion, and I’m not complaining. With a more prevalent dressing, tiny raisins and shredded cheddar cheese, this was my favorite of the evening. Maybe it had marinated just the right amount. Maybe the ingredients were simply of better quality. Whatever it was, Katie agreed. She even admitted she’d take this to a party and not divulge she didn’t make it. That’s bold.
Enough with the health food. We also had goodies. Carmen had preached these would all be better heated up a bit, so we hit the microwave pretty hard. First, it was the chocolate croissant ($4). Simple and effective. Next, we had the monster cookie ($3), a sizable one with oatmeal and strong peanut butter enveloping candy-coated chocolate. Katie didn’t like it as much as I did, so I shamefully hid it from the kids.
Don’t feel sorry for them. They split the cappuccino-chocolate chip muffin ($4). I was afforded a bite. It’s not super sweet or overpoweringly chocolate; the dark muffin was near perfect.
My real dessert was the Taylor Fladgate 10-Year-Old Tawny Port ($37.25) I picked up from the retail section. Yes, I’d had enough of a good time at Provision and almost as much fun after. I wish I’d gotten around to a few of their salamis and cheeses, but there will be another chance.
“We are working towards more build-your-own charcuterie boards in the near future,” Carmen said, “but you have to return for our brunch and sandwiches.” I am seriously considering taking a long lunch to try a filet of beef sandwich or fig and prosciutto panini and whatever the soup special may be.
You can get breakfast at 8 a.m. and lunch at 10 a.m. Both run until 2 p.m., and small plates run from 3 p.m. until close. With fancy chips bragging on black truffles as an ingredient, prepackaged snacks, high-end food products and a wine club, there is a lot to take in on a daily basis. However, follow them to keep up with monthly events such as how-to classes and wine tastings.
It’s something for everyone, and I like it because they don’t overdo it. It’s gourmet, hip and almost understated with great effort. Thanks, Carmen, for showing me the ropes and for singing a tune. I’ll be back for a sandwich.
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