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providence restaurant (los angeles)

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We had the "milk chocolate, banana, coffee-urfa" - it was nice, of course. But not half as intriguing as the pre-dessert, which, I think, was similar to your "Pear" dessert, only with curry added.

But I kow too little about the california restaurant scene to compare those desserts to those at other places (but if Providence's are "the best" in the state, well...).

Anyway: You had 6 desserts? So I guess that the "chefs menu" is the "full tasting" plus those numerous desserts? Had I known that I would have ordered that menu, too.

(And in this case there seems to be no need to come twice, since you get like 2-in-1: the full tasting *and* the dessert tasting...).

Edited by kai-m (log)
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I'm glad that you liked your dinner at Providence. I was very happy to meet all of you. As for the little box, Das macht nichts!

The "chef's tasting menu" is different from the 5-course tasting menu or 9-course (aka full tasting menu). In the chef's tasting menu, you allow the chef to create a tasting menu for you. The courses are not necessarily listed on the printed menu and can be quite creative.

The "dessert tasting menu" is Adrian Vasquez's list of dessert creations, and is separate from any of the other tasting menus previously mentioned. You can double-check that on their website.

A diner can have a dessert tasting menu in 3, 5 or 8 courses. Some go to Providence just for the dessert tasting menu, no disrespect to that savory chef Michael Cimarusti. Admittedly, I sometimes go to Providence late at night at around 9-10 p.m., sit at the bar and have a drink and one of Adrian's desserts. To me, it's exciting when he adds a new dessert on the list that night and of course, I want to try it. On my first visit to Providence, I remember having a chocolate chip cookie powder served on an Asian soup spoon. Boy, I wouldn't mind snorting tasting that again ... :smile::smile:

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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We had the "milk chocolate, banana, coffee-urfa" - it was nice, of course. But not half as intriguing as the pre-dessert, which, I think, was similar to your "Pear" dessert, only with curry added.

But I kow too little about the california restaurant scene to compare those desserts to those at other places (but if Providence's are "the best" in the state, well...).

Anyway: You had 6 desserts? So I guess that the "chefs menu" is the "full tasting" plus those numerous desserts? Had I known that I would have ordered that menu, too.

(And in this case there seems to be no need to come twice, since you get like 2-in-1: the full tasting *and* the dessert tasting...).

The pear was a pre-dessert, and it might have had some kind of curry. To tell you the truth, my memory's a bit hazy on that one.

The white chocolate lollipop was the very last little bite, in lieu of the petits fours / mignardises it sounds like you received.

The chef's menu included 4 full desserts and those two extras.

Next time I want all 8. :raz:

I suppose it all depends on what counts as a course and what doesn't, but we had 19 little plates that night. I don't recall the price breakdown, but with the chef's menu, a supplement for the salt-roasted prawns, and four or five glasses of wine, I want to say it came to around $300pp. Not cheap by any means, but like you, I will certainly keep this place on my LA list. I can't imagine future trips without both Urasawa and Providence, really.

Lastly, I would never be so bold as to call anything "the best". I just meant that to my taste, they were some of the desserts I have most enjoyed here. California is, in my opinion, just not home to many great pastry chefs, either traditional or innovative, in the way that, say, NYC is. But that's a topic for another thread...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Okay, I'm slow, but better late than never, right? Right? Guys? :cool:

Seriously, though, pics are HERE and my thoughts are below...

“Waste makes waist,” I told Adam. The wine was running freely and so were my thoughts. He looked inspired, and by inspired I mean confused. But I explained: the whole “portion control” fad has gone too far. I feared the evil empire of moderation had somehow gotten to him, too. We don’t tear pages out of books to read better or leave sports games at halftime to more fully appreciate them. Why should food be any different? And frankly, leaving pork belly as succulent as the piece we were served at Providence lonely and uneaten on the plate says a lot about a man’s character. I mean, yeah we had just finished lunch at Pizzeria Mozza an hour before this. And maybe those two pizzas (each) had been a little filling. But where was Adam’s integrity? I thought the man had values.

I tried to help, though. Really, I did. Mozza is only 6 blocks away from Providence. So to digest (or whatever normal people do between meals) after that late lunch, I suggested we walk over to set up a reservation in person. I explained our situation to the host: Adam had a plane to catch later on, but we (and by we, I mean I) wanted the longest menu that Chef Michael Cimarusti could dream up that night. If we came in, say, right when they opened the doors for service that evening, could they just make sure to fill the next several hours with as much good food and wine as possible?

The host was a nice guy, and this scenario is probably not one he sees every day, so I tried not to take offense when he suggested that the 5-course prix fixe could easily have us in and out in under 2 hours. Nor did I put any stock in his warning that we would be the only people in the restaurant if we came in early. This was LA, after all. Maybe he assumed our focus during dinner might actually be someplace other than the 12 inch circle of porcelain in front of us. Still unsure if our goal had been properly conveyed but not wanting to belabor it much more, we made the 5:30 reservation and came back at the appointed hour.

Never much for pre-dinner cocktails, we started instead with champagne — Nicolas Feuillatte Brut. To my slight chagrin, they still brought us menus. We stubbornly didn’t open them, but the waiter began to explain, “So, a bit about the menu: You can order a la carte, or a 5-course tasting, or the 9-course…” But what we would really like, if possible, is the chef’s menu, I said. Adam then asked the waiter what that experience is like, and he replied, simply, “Intense.” Adam looked terrified. I looked like I’d just received news of a job promotion or a new grandchild.

Our first bites were cocktails of the edible variety – greyhound, mojito, gin and tonic. Served in cute little El Bulli spoons, the spherified greyhound had the slightly bitter pucker effect of grapefruit and the mojito held a refreshing burst of fresh mint and a lingering rum flavor. The gin and tonic was in a little block of sugar-coated gelée, and with a squeeze of fresh lime juice it also kick-started our taste buds for what was to come.

The bread guy approached the table and I knew right way that we would be friends. Only friends bring you warm bacon brioche, chive rolls, and focaccia along with soft butter and coarse sea salt. The butter wasn’t life-changing, but I’ve turned into a butter snob as of late, so don’t listen to me. But the bread was really great. I understand that me putting butter on the bacon brioche is a bit excessive. But, mmmm… sweet, sweet excess. I had probably 3 or 4 rounds of each type of bread during the course of the meal, as Adam looked on in horror amazement.

A long slate tile held our next three dishes, the first of which was kanpachi, fresh wasabi, umeboshi, yuzu. The raw kanpachi was of exceptional quality. Maybe not can-we-please-pause-for-a-moment-of-silence quality like Urasawa’s, but still really nice. I loved the salty, sweet, sour, and cold pickled plum granita as a backdrop for the fish, and the wasabi and yuzu sang loud hot and sour notes on the finish. Really a nice combination of flavors and texture.

The simply titled uni egg/caviar was a cool, smooth sea urchin panna cotta dotted with bright green chive oil and a gel made from soy sauce, gilded with a dollop of Ossetra caviar. When you dug to the bottom of the eggshell, little tongues of sea urchin roe were waiting beneath like treasures on the ocean floor. Granted, I don’t have any pictures of that part. I just don’t have that kind of discipline. But this dish was delicious.

I saved the strongest flavors — hog island oyster, chorizo gelée, lime, cilantro — for last. The salty combination of the oyster, the gelée, and little bits of diced chorizo was just a bit overwhelming. But pork and mollusks do play together pretty nicely, I must say. The punch of acidity from the lime helped brighten things up. I also enjoyed the texture of this dish, with the viscous gelée giving way to the pleasantly chewy oyster and chorizo.

Next came a compelling rendition of tuna tartare — turnip, crispy soba, red jalapeño, green onions. Aside from the very fresh and flavorful fish, for me it was the “crispy soba” that made this dish. These little granules of puffed buckwheat had the texture of puffed rice, but with a much nuttier flavor that was truly addictive. Every bite brought me back to my Rice Krispies days as the soba snapped, crackled and popped in my mouth while I chewed through the tender chunks of tuna. But the sweet veil of daikon and the peppery (but not spicy) slivers of jalapeño were enough to remind me that this was no breakfast cereal.

A single, plump diver scallop — summer truffle vinaigrette, baby artichokes, juliet tomatoes was beautifully cooked. It was caramelized and crisp on the top, but ultra-soft and nearly raw on the inside. The summer truffles didn’t lend much aroma, but earthiness of the warm vinaigrette made a delicious duo with the naturally sweet scallop. The artichokes and the sweet little tomatoes were also intensely flavorful. This for me was a dish that worked on all levels.

Next up was more beautifully cooked fish: turbot — burdock, shiso, lemon. I had no idea what burdock was before this, but I feel a lot healthier now that I’ve read about its medicinal properties. After biting into this fish, I also felt a lot humbler knowing that the cooks at Providence can cook fish a hell of a lot better than I can. Just like the scallop before it, the turbot tiptoed the line between raw and cooked. Turbot is a relatively firm-fleshed fish, but we were able to cut through this one like warm butter. The burdock, shiso and lemon lent slight sweetness and refreshing acidity to the subtly flavored fish.

Adam’s appetite had long since been faltering, and he had already pushed a few half-finished plates my way (which, it goes without saying, I finished dutifully). Frankly, I was worried. But when he did the same with the pork belly — kyoho grapes, pickled ramps, mizuna, I think I cried tears of joy. For me this was clearly the best dish we’d had up to this point, and I was glad to help a friend in need by finishing every last bit of it. The pork belly was so tender that it was almost creamy. Hell, it was almost spreadable. Like foie gras, like sea urchin, like butter. I considered rubbing a bit on my face like lotion, but then I got distracted by the crispy skin. Two crispy tiles of it were laid on top of the dish for a salty, brittle contrast. The sweetness of the grapes, the acidic punch from the pickled ramps, and the rich fattiness of the pork belly was an intoxicatingly savory combination. I could’ve easily eaten two of these. Oh wait, I did.

I have yet to mention that the assistant sommelier, Diane De Luca, was just great — delightful to interact with and incredibly knowledgeable. To pair with the next dish, she poured a glass of Kanchiku junmai daiginjo sake that I thought was very well-chosen. Definitely on the dry side, and frankly not something I would have enjoyed drinking on its own, the sake felt viscous and almost syrupy on the palate. Yet it had none of the sweetness I usually associate with that mouthfeel in wine, and instead had just a tiny bit of residual sugar that barely shined through against the bracing minerality.

I was worried that the previous meat course meant that we were reaching the end of the savory portion of the meal, but much to my delight we went back to more fish: black sea bass — matsutake mushrooms, sake, rosemary. I bent down toward the plate, eyes closed, and as always I let my nose do the tasting first. The rosemary and the matsutakes (not called pine mushrooms for nothing) filled the air with the aroma of the forest floor — earthy, rich, and piney. The sake foam was warm and buttery. I heard a quiet little crunch as my knife broke through the crispy skin to get to the delicate flesh below. A bite. And a smile.

Diane began to describe the Girlan 2005 Gewürztraminer Aimé DOC she was pouring for our next course, but suddenly conversation stopped. Eyes turned toward the entrance of the dining room. Donato Poto — GM, co-owner, and maitre d’ — had just entered, wheeling a huge cast iron dish full of salt toward our table. We could hear the quiet sizzle as he prepared our salt roasted santa barbara spot prawns – rosemary, lemon, olive oil

I had specifically mentioned this spot prawn preparation earlier, and they happily obliged my request to work this into our tasting. This dish was depressing on two levels. One, it tasted so damn good that I was somehow able to justify the $11 per prawn supplement. And two, after this dish and the kuruma ebi at Urasawa the night before, I feared that eating shrimp outside of these two restaurants ever again could be a futile and pointless activity. Mr. Poto shook the salt off and split the prawns down the middle. Then they were given nothing but a liberal dose of Castelas extra virgin olive oil from Provence and wedges of lemon. I’m not even sure shrimp shells are digestible, to be honest, but I couldn’t have cared less. From head to tail, these prawns were delicious.

Next up was freshwater japanese eel — crushed potato with truffle, sweetbreads, eel jus. This dish had one foot on land and one in the water. Or rather, both feet splashing around somewhere in between. The eel was paired with earthy flavors — potatoes and truffles — while the sweetbreads were sauced with the eel jus and coupled with fava beans. I thought both combinations worked pretty well. With the backdrop of the potatoes and the truffle sauce, the eel seemed almost meaty. And the sweetbreads, meanwhile, almost seemed light, a rare achievement with this very rich, fatty piece of offal.

Diane came by again with Craggy Range 2005 Te Kahu, a merlot blend from New Zealand, to go with the lamb, shoulder and saddle — grilled green apple eggplant, cuisse de poulet shallots, compote of tomato, black olive. The great fish cookery we had seen so far didn’t preclude them from turning out some great meat, too. The herb-crusted lamb saddle was roasted to a beautiful rosy pink. A small puck of deep-fried shoulder confit had a crispy exterior that gave way to tender strands of meat on the inside. The meat in combination with the eggplant, tomato, and shallot was wonderful, making me forget all about the fact that, in general, I’m not the biggest fan of black olives.

It was about time for Adam to go, but he's a smart man -- he waited until after the cheese selection. After the server’s explanation of every cheese on the cart, we chose four: La Peral, a cow’s milk blue from Spain; Sally Jackson “Sheep” from Washington; Le Maréchal, a raw cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland; and Selles sur Cher (P. Jacquin) a French goat cheese. I wasn’t really feeling Sally Jackson, though I enjoyed all the rest. The show-stealer was La Peral. Granted, on the plate it looked like a wet brown paper bag with blue crayons in it. But it sure did taste good. It had this kind of pungent hit up front, but finished with a wonderful lingering creaminess. The accoutrements, aside from the way-too-strong black olive marmalade, were also quite nice.

Adam had to leave, but a reliever was ready in the bullpen. A friend of mine with whom I had driven to LA had come to meet me at the restaurant for our ride home. ”Hey, great timing! Why not enjoy a few desserts before the long drive back?”, I urged her. ”To give us some, uh, energy. Yeah, that’s it…” Hell, I wasn’t going to let a lonely midnight ride up I-5 come between me and dessert. You must be kidding.

The pre-dessert (a lovely concept, no?) was raisin, pear, ras el hanout, hazelnut. With the huge flavors packed into this mini-mug, pastry chef Adrian Vasquez certainly grabbed my attention and would not let go of it until the end of the meal. I alternated between sipping the spiced pear soup and just breathing in its intoxicating aroma. The crispy hazelnut tuile and pear-raisin sorbet, meanwhile, were like an open-faced ice cream sandwich, emitting a cold, staccato crunch every time I sunk my teeth into it. With just these few mouthfuls of food, Chef Vasquez had me at hello.

Moving from North Africa to southeast Asia, our next dessert was mango, litchi-pandan sorbet, coconut soup with thai flavors. It’s powerful when a chef can play with food in a way that plays with your memory. This dessert brought me back to Bangkok earlier this year. The soup showcased the delicious sweetness of coconut milk but kept it in check with the assertively peppery, anise flavor of Thai basil. Somewhere between taste and smell, I sensed a subtle similarity between the flavor of the sorbet and the sweet aroma of jasmine rice (which, come to find out, shares the same aroma compound as pandan). Several little tapioca balls were chewy and squishy buoys in the soup, adding yet another texture to complement the diced fresh mango and a few shreds of fresh coconut. The combination of everything together was sweet, spicy and herbal all at once.

That was followed with sous-vide jonalicious apple, barley ice cream, pine nut purée, north star dried cherries. These apple wedges were sweet, tart, and juicy. Just tender enough to dig a fork into, they stood up well to the slow-cooking without disintegrating like other varieties might have. The pine nut purée was smooth and salty, the barley ice cream cold and nutty, and the dried cherry sweet but not cloying. Like the prior desserts, every voice sang well together but none too loud as to overpower the others.

Inspired by Turkish coffee, the pastry chef’s next offering was milk chocolate, banana, coffee-urfa. You may have seen this twisted chocolate ganache featured in such restaurants as wd~50 or Alinea. An idea originated, as far as I know, by Alex Stupak, you have to admit it is pretty cool looking. Fortunately, it tastes good, too, and Adrian Vasquez gave it some nice friends to play with. The pudding-like milk chocolate got some extra sweetness from the banana slices, but a strong peppery kick in the back of the throat came from the urfa. Taken separately, these two very different flavor elements would have pushed too far one way or the other, but together I really enjoyed them.

I thought we were done, but happily I was wrong: burnt caramel ice cream, chocolate, gingerbread, pears was yet to come. The caramel base of the ice cream was taken to that magical point where sugar reveals not one flavor but thousands all at once. Bitter, sweet, rich, deep, complex — it was all of these and more. The gingerbread crumbs beneath it added spice and texture to the mix. On the other side of the plate, a moist cube of gingerbread came with chocolate ganache, little balls of poached pears, and a pear foam. Another pair of clean plates were sent back to the kitchen.

One last bite — a white chocolate and kalamansi lollipop. An explosion of sour liquid hit my tongue when I popped the lollipop into my mouth and bit through the thin white chocolate shell. A small wedge of candied kalamansi peel was on top of the lollipop, a note of sweetness to balance things out in a similar way the shell did with its lingering flavor of cocoa butter.

Whether you look at that one single bite or all the desserts as a whole, the sweet finish of the meal was a clear indication to me that Adrian Vasquez is truly a special talent. And certainly Chef Michael Cimarusti and Chef de Cuisine Yu Min Lin had given us a progression of savory courses that was no less compelling. I can hardly imagine a better weekend of LA eating than what we had just finished — Urasawa one night, and Providence the next. Paradise for raw fish followed by paradise for cooked. I will definitely be back to Providence. Only next time, in addition to the chef’s tasting menu, I think I’ll tack on the full eight-course dessert tasting menu. And maybe eat only one pizza at Mozza beforehand. Maybe.

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  • 2 months later...

This may be a little belated, but I had a very good dinner at Providence last August. I had the Market Menu with wine pairing (menu similar menu to the one posted with photos above). Highlights for me were "bobby's block island sea scallops", Tenderloin of veal, a linguine with truffles that I ordered on the side.

After I have been to some restaurants very well regarded (Urasawa, Providence, Sona, Patina, Spago (too many years ago)), I would say that Providence was the restaurant that gave me the more overall satisfaction. Urasawa is at the same level (maybe a little bit above) but pricewise it makes you think twice. Not sure I will repeat any time soon, but Providence I will for sure, specially with the pairing. It is a reasonable deal.

Sona, I went last week, very disappointing. Good presentation, service OK but with an irritating tendency of self praise (delicious this, super tasty that, marvelous whatever). The diners should be doing the praise, not the staff. To be honest, everything seemed a little blend. Even the fois gras. They maitre said nobody ever complained. But who would: "oh, this fois gras not so good". I wonder how many marveled at it. The tastes seemed to compete with the fois. Not that the tastes were so strong, but the fois did not shine at all.

That said, I guess what propelled me to write was not really Providence itself, but actually Patina where I've been this evening. As I haven't written about Providence before and this thread seems more active than Patina's I took the liberty.

I took the tasting. Amouse Bouche was nice, fish with black beans soup, which reminded a lot what we have in Brazil. It was nice, not more than that. Main fish courses (Crusted Tuna Belly and Alaskan King Slamon) were very unremarkable. Well done, but...unremarkable. Fish at the amouse was tastier.

Meat courses were way better. Sauteed Fois Gras with huckleberries and chocolate was delicious (as the one from Sona was expected to be!). Perfect cooking, the sauce adding a touch to the Fois, but not overcoming it. American Kobe Beef with sweet potato tempura in its reduction sauce was really good. Very tasty, the meat came almost rare as I have ordered, huum... I preferred its execution to the one I had at Urasawa. I probably don't understand much of Kobe beef but, that's my taste.

But what really propelled me to write was the desert (after reading about Providence's desert discussion above). What came to my table really made me voice my ooohs, and aaahs. It was a Chocolate Truffle with actual Black truffles along with withe chocolate sorbet with white truffles, bedded over "baby" apple compote. I was stroked by it. Surprising, unexpected, delicious. Wow. One of the best and most interesting deserts I have ever had. Actually I asked another one to make sure, and even stuffed I could not stop praising it. Amazing. I wonder if it is just me or if anybody here shares my enthusiasm.

Just trying to eat some good food and learn in the process with all the well versed foodies here. Please don't hold me too accountable for my so personal opinions! :)

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But what really propelled me to write was the desert (after reading about Providence's desert discussion above). What came to my table really made me voice my ooohs, and aaahs. It was a Chocolate Truffle with actual Black truffles along with withe chocolate sorbet with white truffles, bedded over "baby" apple compote. I was stroked by it. Surprising, unexpected, delicious. Wow. One of the best and most interesting deserts I have ever had. Actually I asked another one to make sure, and even stuffed I could not stop praising it. Amazing. I wonder if it is just me or if anybody here shares my enthusiasm.

mbernstein - I've had a few "truffled truffles" and truffled desserts and they've all be really enjoyable to me. But I'm particularly susceptible to the pungent aroma of truffles (white, especially). I know that some are not particularly keen on the ingredient or smell.

As I wrote in a recent blogpost about such a dessert, "White truffles take well to cream, and I suppose it is only natural to pair it with white chocolate, however absurd that might sound."

At any rate, it thanks for posting this - I've been meaning to visit Providence for quite some time and you've provided one more reason. I'll have to make sure I go during truffle season.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)


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The to my taste excellent desert with truffles was at Patina, although I mentioned that I thought Providence was the most consistent meal.

My dinner at Patina was on January 18 as mentioned above, thus their truffles, I guess. If Tupac was referring to the truffled course at Providence in August, I believe they used Summer Truffles - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuber_(genus)#Summer_truffle.

I hope Ulterior Epicure was not mislead (BTW the desert he mentioned seems really good). Although I agree with his conclusion. If I had to recommend one of these restaurants to try first, it would be Providence.

But of course it is never too much to remind that this is all very personal (including my reaction to the mentioned desert). After all, my business is to make films... I remember, for instance, Kai-m (who I greet back) and I have had very different impressions from La Pergola in Rome which still has a very fond place in my gourmet journeys even after going to more renowned restaurants. And I mention this for no argumentative reason, just as a proviso.

Hope this clarifies. And warns! :cool:

Just trying to eat some good food and learn in the process with all the well versed foodies here. Please don't hold me too accountable for my so personal opinions! :)

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I hope Ulterior Epicure was not mislead (BTW the desert he mentioned seems really good). Although I agree with his conclusion. If I had to recommend one of these restaurants to try first, it would be Providence.

No harm done. Haven't made any reservations yet. :smile:

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)


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anybody been recently , how was the experience?

I went last month and I would not recommend it. The food was mediocre at best (for the price) with many uninspired dishes. The BEST dish by far was this mojito ball. The WORST dish was this celery dish, which was just vile. The wine, though paired relatively well with the dishes, weren't particularly good. They have a 17/20 on Gayot and 2 Michelin stars. I'm not sure they even deserved one star. There are 4 restaurants in LA with 2 Michelin stars (none with 3). Melisse is a better restaurant than Providence but also not deserving of 2 stars. Spago...come on...Wolfgang is such a hack. Lastly, Urasawa, which is most definitely deserving of that status.

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  • 1 year later...

Europe has always been my main destination for dining and it has been proven in the past few years that they’re indeed the place for gastronomy delights. However, in Summer 2009 I flew to the US to find out what the dining situation was like. I used to live in Pittsburgh for about 5 years. My food tour began from the west coast and Providence was the first destination

Food (and wine) - 93/100

The menu does not change that much compared to other reviews I’ve read so far. The amuse bouche and openings are still: mojito ravioli, gin & tonic gelee, soy and wasabi marshmallow (this one really good), sea trout sashimi etc. I opted for the full-tasting menu (9-courses) and here are some of the highlights: the kanpachi was fresh and in good quality, but nothing really remarkable; I like the 2nd one: in general I love anything with poached egg. It produces flavorful combination of creamy egg yolk and uni, equally as good as JG’s egg but not reaching the status of Arpege’s egg. The scallop in Providence (sourced from Bobby’s block island) was plump, tender and naturally sweet; the artichoke, beans puree and tomato complete the experience – probably the best this of the night. The scallop was followed by pacific halibut. Honestly, halibut was boring because it’s usually tasteless and (too) soft – the taste was pretty much contributed by burdock and shiso only.

After more than 20 min waiting without food, there came a better fish – wild king salmon. It’s only cooked a bit and showing some oily and fatty texture, nice. While the restaurant is well-known for its seafood, I was impressed by my main dish – (pinkish) veal tenderloin. The veal was tender and delicious; in fact I don’t need the sharp knife for steak to cut through the meat (it reminded me when I ate my lamb at Maison de Bricourt). Mushrooms and peas puree enhanced the already tasty meat – almost as good as the veal I had at Le Louis XV, seriously. The cheese was alright – only remember the sofia cheese; the condiments had a lot of variety though. Palate cleanser of the night was strawberry sorbet with rhubarb. I enjoyed the dessert actually – kalamansi gelee; my fav was the contrast of smooth coconut milk soup and tapioca with the cold and sour taste of the sorbet. I only had a glass of ‘06 white Burgundy to accompany my meal (a combination of crisp fruity and spicy taste, also not too dry). I would say that Providence LA is capable of producing superior meal. The kitchen team was very talented; Chef Cimarusti was not in the kitchen, nevertheless both sous chefs (Baxter and Aitchison) were able to carry the torch. The cooking here is complex (with many ingredients) yet focused (the main one still shines). The food got 93 pts in my note (solid 2 ½*) – I think it’s as good as if not better than Jean-Georges.

Service (and ambiance) - 92/100

Rather than the period when I had to wait for almost 30 min in the middle, the staffs are friendly and professional. They sincerely would like to serve their guests well. They’re also open to talk about much stuff, which is a good thing for solo diner. The restaurant décor is fine and comfortable; it tends to be dark during dinner in particular in you’re seated at the inside/’alley’ like in my case. The ambiance is more laid back for fine dining standard; probably it’s a reflection of LA in general. However, the food is serious and good. All in all, Providence truly deserves the 2-michelin star (92.5/100 for my scoring system). It’s a much better seafood restaurant than Le Bernardin (LB took over De Karmeliet in my lists as the worst 3-star establishment that I’ve ever visited). I believe that Chef Cimarusti will get better in the next several years; his cooking and career could point to the direction of Olivier Roellinger, one of the greatest chefs in preparing seafood and fishes. If he keeps getting better and better, 4-5 years time Providence LA could receive Michelin’s highest accolade

Here are the pictures – Providence LA

My dining areas lack lighting, thus the pictures I took were rather poor. However, it does not reflect the quality of the dishes, which are high on the average

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  • 4 months later...

Full review and photos: Providence

Providence (Los Angeles) – Thirteen Course Chef’s Tasting Menu

As foodies we often feel the dilemma of having to decide if we want to experience something new or indulge into some tried classics. Might it be at home when we have to decide what kind of recipes we want to try for the next dish or when we have to determine which restaurant to visit next. The next restaurant visit might be relatively easy to agree on if it is for the city you live in, but it gets really tricky if it is for a city you just visit, even if that happens quite often. Over the last few years our travels to Los Angeles have become a regular habit and have provided us with many memorable dining memories. But every time before we go to LA it takes quite some time to nail down our culinary tour. It is always a struggle to find the best balance between trying new spots you heard or read about and some of our favorites. Our list of favorites includes rather newer additions to the LA dining scene as Bistro LQ or Animal, but one restaurant which we “discovered” early on and liked from the first course we experienced there is Providence.

Providence represents for us what fine dining is all about – very creative cuisine using the best possible ingredients, extensive multi-course tasting menus, impeccable execution in the kitchen, knowledgeable and good service without being stuffy, and a relaxing ambience. For us Providence is a restaurant for special occasions but we always make sure to “find” enough opportunities so that we can visit it more than once each year.

Providence was started in 2005 by executive chef/co-owner Michael Cimarusti and Donato Poto (co-owner and Maitre d’, formerly General Manger at Bastide). Chef Cimarusti experienced a career path similar to many high profile chefs. He graduated from one of the top-ranking schools (Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY) before working under many acclaimed chefs as Paul Bocuse, Gerard Boyer and Roger Vergé at Le Cirque in New York. During this time he also married his wife Cristina Echiverri, a pastry chef, and both decided to move to France and continue their culinary education by working at La Mareé and Arpège. After returning to New York Cimarusti became the opening chef of Osteria Del Circo. He then decided to move to Los Angeles to work as Chef de Cuisine at Spago before he became in 1997 executive chef of Water Grill. After seven years at Water Grill he finally opened his own restaurant – Providence. Providence became an instant success and got a James Beard nomination for “Best New Restaurant” in the US in its first year.

Providence has several different menu options – you can of course also order à la carte. They also offer a five course tasting menu, a full tasting menu, but every time we go to Providence we prefer to order the best way to fully experience this restaurant – the chef’s tasting menu. After ordering it you simply sit back, relax and wait for good things to come. It will be a long and exciting culinary trip.

Providence is located on Melrose Ave, a little but further east of Hatfield’s and both Mozza restaurants. It occupies the old Patina building and has some interesting architectural features outside using wood which makes it easily recognizable.

The restaurant has two dining rooms. This time we got our table in the main one. This room has mainly brown/beige colors and is a wide open space. Since we favor more private tables we often try to get one of the booth-like tables at one side of the room. The walls are decorated with barnacles and fit nicely to the seafood focus of the restaurant.

We also like the lights on the tables which resemble corals.

We started the night with two cocktails: Cyanide Kiss – Remy VSOP, ginger infused sake, white peach puree, licor 43, savory herb. Asian Pear Martini – Stolichnaya vanilla vodka, sake, passion fruit, monin vanilla syrup, organic pear juice. We always enjoy the cocktails at Providence which are creative and well executed. Both cocktails had a nice balance between fruitiness and alcohol. The Asian pear martini was one of the first cocktails we tried here and it is still our favorite. It’s good to know that you can also get it at Copa d’Oro, the cocktail bar of former Providence mixologist Vincenzo Marianella.

Providence has a very good bread selection with the bacon brioche as our highlight. Cute little scoop for the salt.

1st Amuse Bouche: Greyhound, Margarita

One of the well known amuse bouche of Providence and an interesting play on spherification. Both “cocktails” tasted very much like their real versions.

2nd Amuse Bouche: Squid and chorizo

Nice presentation of this simple but tasty course – very tender grilled squid and slightly salty chorizo eaten together give a good combination.

1st Course: Kanpachi, lemon, olive oil, black truffle

Firm but tender/buttery kanpachi was accompanied by cucumber, some lemon and black truffle but not overpowered. The olive oil gave it an additional fruity note and the crispy rice cracker some textural counterbalance.

2nd Course: Big eye tuna, basil seeds, pickled ginger

Relatively fatty but very tender, slightly seared tuna with a texture not unlike very good beef in steak tartar. We liked the slightly sour combination of pickled ginger and the crème fraiche based sauce. Similar to the first course, a cracker provided some textural variety. We also enjoyed the presentation of this dish in the earthen bowl and the wooden spoon. Pairing: Junmai dai ginjyo, kanchiku – we rarely drink sake but we thought it paired nicely to this course with its light rice taste at the beginning and some floral/fruity notes at the end.

3rd Course: Santa Barbara sea urchin served in a farm fresh egg, champagne beurre blanc, fines herbes, caviar

This was one of the two courses we already had in previous tasting menus but it was a welcome repeat. The sea urchin, yolk and beurre blanc were mixed to a creamy and rich mixture whereas the salty caviar helped to cut through this richness. We wished that the taste of uni could have been a bit more pronounced. Pairing: crémant de bourgogne “blanc de blancs,” domaine parigot & richard m.v. – Champagne blend which was not too dry or sweet with some apple aroma.

4th Course : Grilled Santa Barbara spot prawn, lemon, olive oil

This course was the second dish we already had previously,but again we weren’t sad to have it again. It was prepared by Donato Poto tableside. Many dishes at Providence are often fairly complex with many ingredients but this dish shows that simplicity can be equally satisfying. The prawns are roasted in salt and rosemary and just served with olive oil and lemon. The perfect way to eat this sweet and flavorful prawns. Pairing: Sauvignon blanc new zealand, te muna road vineyard, craggy range 2008 – Appropriate acidity for the prawns with fruit at the finish.

5th Course: Unagi and abalone, daikon, dashi, scallions

Very nice combination of flavorful freshwater eel, which wasn’t overly fatty, and tender abalone. The use of dashi foam really brought this dish together and showed that foams can be used as more than a gimmick. Pairing: Chardonnay langhe, ettore germane 2009 – Typical Chardonnay with some oak taste.

6th Course: Foie gras, cherries, mizuna, fennel

Perfectly seared foie gras paired with not too sweet cherries to balance the richness of the foie gras. The addition of anise-flavored fennel and peppery mizuna gave the dish a more complex twist compared to the regular sweetness – richness pairing of foie gras dishes. Providence often likes to work with powders of some of the ingredients. In this dish foie gras and cherry powder helped to intensify the flavors. Pairing: Riesling kabinett, kaseler nies’chen, erben von beulwitz 2007 – As expected for a pairing with foie gras the wine had some sweetness with tones of apples and peaches.

7th Course: Pork belly and porcini, polenta, summer truffles, fried quail egg, miner’s lettuce

The pork belly was very tender and had an interesting texture not unlike pastrami or meat cooked sous-vide. The sauce with fresh porcini mixed together with the quail egg was a good companion for the pork. The truffle added the desired addictive flavor without overpowering the dish. Pairing: Pinot noir, maranges le croix moines, 1er cru, camille giroud 2007 – Relatively dry wine with some sour cherry flavor.

8th Course: Skeena river king salmon, hazelnuts, morels, roasted baby carrots, pea tendrils

This dish was all about the salmon and carrot flavor. Lightly seared salmon belly and roasted carrots made an unusual combination which worked nicely. The carrot flavor was boosted by the carrot sauce and carrot powder. Pairing: Pinot noir, sangiacomo vineyard, vergari 2007 – The second Pinot Noir had some acidity with spice and raspberry flavor.

9th Course: Lamb saddle, tomato compote, chorizo, cauliflower

There were a lot of things going on in this dish. Not only was this plate very colorful but also had many different flavors – slightly gamey lamb with a flavorful basil crust, sweet-sour tomato compote, saltiness from the chorizo and subtle smokiness from the roasted cauliflower – but the dish came really well together once you tried everything. Pairing : Red blend slovenia “veliko,” movia 2002 – You don’t often see wines from Slovenia on restaurant wine lists in Los Angeles. Balanced wine with notes of tobacco, leather and some berries.

10th Course: Cheese selection

Providence has a very good selection of cheese so that we covered an array of goat, sheep and cow cheeses. Unfortunately they were out of our beloved Epoisses but had at least some Muenster. The bread and condiments, figs, walnuts, apple gelee, were good but paled in comparison to our favorite cheese plate at Bistro LQ. Pairing: Welschriesling Beerenauslese, rosenhof 2006 – Unusual pairing for the cheese course with this sweet wine. Not a bad Beerenauslese but we would have preferred a more classical pairing with a red wine.

11th Course: Coconut milk-pandan soup, thai-flavored granita, mango jelly, fried banana

Desserts are always a highlight at Providence with the impressive creations of pastry chef Adrian Vasquez. The first dessert course was no exception and showcased his strength by using many different flavors which you can taste individually but that combine in your mouth to more than just its sum. The coconut milk-pandan soup with the tapioca formed the earthy base for the fruity flavors of the granita, jelly and lightly fried banana. Very strong start for the dessert part of the tasting menu.

12th Course: Dulce de leche-miso panna cotta, blueberries, passion fruit & buckwheat

The use of miso for the dulce de leche panna cotta puts this dessert to the next level and gave this dish an addictive umami flavor. The blueberries and the passion fruit lightened the creaminess of the panna cotta whereas the buckwheat added some textural counterbalance. Only disappointment was not to be able to get seconds of this dessert. Pairing: Moscato d’asti “riveto,” dante rivetti 2009 – Sweet wine with some notes of honeymelon

13th Course: Milk chocolate mousse, raspberry ginger, hazelnut marshmellow

A great finish to the tasting menu with the light milk chocolate mousse cake and hazelnut marshmellow.

Good coffee too from LAMill which is not surprising due to the close connection between Providence and LAMill.

Petit Fours: And the night ended with some tasty treats

The moment we stepped into Providence we knew that it would again be an outstanding night. It is always a good sign if people who work in a restaurant remember you and welcome you with a handshake and you just start chatting with them. This time they didn’t even bother to give us a menu and just asked us if we wanted to have the chef’s tasting menu like the other times before. Part of the good service at Providence is that you never feel rushed and you immediately get the feeling that everybody there is interested to let you experience the best possible night without being overly stuffy or formal. This high level of enthusiasm of the front of the house is also easily recognizable in the work of the kitchen. The tasting menus are constantly evolving and a burst of creativity. The kitchen shows a good balance between focusing on the quality of the single ingredients and creating complex dishes with a talent for small details which improve the dish, e.g powders, foams, without being complex just to impress. Providence is often characterized as a seafood restaurant but we feel this description falls short to capture the restaurant. The meat dishes are in no way less impressive than the seafood preparations and show the depth and confidence of the kitchen. The desserts at Providence earn a specific mentioning as we feel that pastry chef Adrian Vasquez creates some of the best desserts we have eaten anywhere. And it is time for us to try one day his dessert tasting menu.

After an exiting and never boring five hours culinary trip we left Providence as one of the last guests and already on the way out we discussed when we will "find" the next occasion to come back soon.

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  • 7 months later...

I'm booked into Providence on Tuesday April 12, under my real name: Arthur Wilson. I will post with pictures just to update this thread. Honkman from 2 Foodies posted last August with the Summer menu, I'll do the Spring version. This date is midway between our anniversary and my birthday so it's the big celebration for us. In the past we've done Trio in Chicago, West in Vancouver, The French Laundry, Perigees in Toronto (now sadly closed) and Bigas in San Antonio for this occasion. For us, this is the big event of the year, but the first time we've trusted an LA restaurant. We just got back from Australia and New Zealand and don't want to travel again so soon. But after reading the reviews and talking with friends, I'm not worried. Let's eat!

Captain Hongo

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