Friday, June 11, 2010

Providence - A Full Tasting Experience (Los Angeles)



Providence, a place I've dined a few times in 2009, and this dining experience was about a year ago during their 4th anniversary dinner special. Call me a slacker, or having a huge blogging backlog, but here it is! This will be my Providence marathon 1 of 4, which will also include my upcoming dinner there this weekend.

Just a quick Providence background, after Chef Michael Cimarusti left Water Grill to open his own restaurant, the aforementioned Providence, it has quickly garnered numerous awards, including 2 Michelin stars in 2009. Chef Cimarusti specializes in seafood and we definitely experienced that passion in our meal.

Gin Gin Mule

Gin Gin Mule

Prior to ordering and in place of a wine pairing, I went with a version of Gin Gin Mule made at Providence. Refreshing and delicious, just what I needed!

Bread Service @ ProvidenceButter at Providence

Bread Service

There are two types of bread offered at Providence: A simple warm roll, and an olive focaccia. Even though I'm not a fan of olives, the subtle taste of the olives in the focaccia left this non-olive fan pleased. As usual, I enjoyed the salt and butter compliment with the bread here at Providence.

The meal starts with a trio of amuse bouche:

Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup

An intense, yet delicious carrot soup with a slight touch of creme fraiche. Delicious!

"Gin & Tonic"

"Gin and Tonic"

Here we have Cimarusti's play on the classic gin and tonic cocktail. Served jelly cube with a slice of lime on the side. Very nice!



Probably my favorite of the trio, but it's probably due to the fact it's my favorite cocktail, a mojito. Served in a style like Bazaar's Olive, it's served in a gelatinous form with a liquid filling. It's very enjoyable and a nice palate cleanser to prepare us for the upcoming tasting menu.

japanese kanpachi sashimijapanese kanpachi sashimi

Japanese Kanpachi Sashimi - crispy rice cakes, flowering coriander, endives sou vide, soy creme fraiche

Here, we can see Chef Cimarusti's approach towards fresh seafood. Unlike the usual sashimi preparation found at a Japanese restaurant, the addition of the rice cakes added a nice texture and the creme fraiche added a nice tart, yet creamy flavor. However, in the end, the dish is highlighted by the freshness of the kanpachi, and it was quite nice.

santa barbara sea urchinsanta barbara sea urchin

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin - served in a farm fresh egg, champagne beurre blanc, fines herbes

Fresh Santa Barbara sea urchin and fresh soft poached farm egg, what can really be better than this? Ya, this is good, really good! It's probably the best dish of the night, easily.

hokkaido sea scallops

Hokkaido Sea Scallops - fava beans, chanterelles, applewood smoked bacon, jurancon sec

Next, we were served a beautifully cooked scallop from Hokkaido complimented with bacon and chanterelle (a type of fungus). The flavors of the bacon were evident, yet did not steal much of scallop's thunder. A wonderful match!

wild day-boat pacific halibut

Wild Day-Boat Pacific Halibut - burdock, shiso, lemon

The star here was the halibut. Cooked beautifully sous vide style, the fish was delicate and tender, and definitely well cooked. I also enjoyed the compliment of shiso and lemon in terms of flavor complex, though I wished that the flavors would be a bit more bold.

wild troll caught king salmon

Wild Troll Caught King Salmon - Japanese turnips, sweet peas, preserved meyer lemon, gingered carrot juice

While I enjoyed the dish, I didn't exactly love it. Maybe it's due to the fact I'm usually "so-so" with regards to salmon dishes. What I did enjoy was the salmon skin that came with the dish, the peas itself, and the sauce that went with this dish. The salmon was well cooked, and the accompanied dishes added to the flavors, though I don't think I'll be craving this anytime soon.

roasted tenderloin of veal

Roasted Tenderloin of Veal - crushed king edward potatoes, spring onions, hazelnuts, new crop spring garlic confit

I'll be fairly blunt when I say the seafood dishes definitely trumps any "land" courses at Providence. While I usually enjoy a properly cooked veal, I did not like this preparation, and neither did anyone else in my dining party. The veal itself was tender, the textures seemed off and while I was able to finish the dish, I didn't particularly like it. I think this is a case where the picture looked better than how the dish actually tasted.

Market CheesesMarket CheesesMarket CheesesMarket Cheeses

Cheese Course

The cheese course, one part of the meal I usually dread as I'm not too keen on cheese in general. I will have to say, the cheese cart at Providence was quite impressive, easily one of the best in Los Angeles. We were given quite a few choices for the table and our cheese specialist was quite knowledgeable and was able to give us a nice sampling of the cheeses available that night. While I didn't enjoy them all, it was an impressive sampling for sure.

cucumber, kaffir lime, juniper berry and yogurt

Cucumber, Kaffir Lime, Juniper Berry & Yogurt

Now...onto my favorite course in every meal, the dessert course. To start, Pastry Chef Adrian Vasquez served a Kaffir lime sorbet with cucumber and yogurt, a quintessential palate cleanser. The dish was refreshing, light, and a great choice for us after the numerous savory dishes.

Miso Cheesecake

Miso Cheesecake - regier farms peaches, black sesame, cassis sorbet

Our final dessert course was the cheesecake. Usually cheesecake is one of my favorite dessert options and this proved to be no exception. I'll say, with the inclusion of miso paste within the cheesecake, it's slightly on the savory side, however the accompanied peaches and cassis sorbet did help combat those flavors. While I enjoyed it, it wasn't my favorite cheesecake I've had.



Finally, we closed dinner out with three different types of mignardises (jelly, caramel candy, and truffle chocolate). Each were tasty and delicious. A great way to close out the meal.

For my first full tasting menu here at Providence, there were a few standout dishes, while a few I feel missed the boat. While I do believe Chef Cimarusti and the restaurant deserved its 2 Michelin stars back in 2009, it's not my favorite restaurant in town. I hope my upcoming visit will change my mind, though I did have a nice experience here. For those that would like to try Providence for the first time, they're having their 5th Anniversary special for the month of June, as the 5 course tasting menu will be set at $65. Quite a bargain if you ask me, and it allows me to try Providence one more time!

5955 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038-3623
(323) 460-4170
Official Website

Providence in Los Angeles on Fooddigger


Nomsnotbombs said...

This meal looks so impressive. I'm really intrigued by the jellies (never had one and would love to try the mojito one!) and the miso cheesecake. Nice post, also--I don't know how you remember so much detail for a meal you ate so long ago.

Daniel S. said...

Great review and pics. I had a similar meal here on Monday (pics: and took advantage of their $65 special anniversary offer, and free corkage :). The scallop was nice, but our halibut was overcooked and dry; yours looks much better. My veal tenderloin was amazing and I loved the amuse bouche with the cocktail spheres =). Service was amazing. And I'm still raving over the bread/butter service. I'm definitely going back.

weezermonkey said...

The June 5-course deal for $65 is such a steal!

I love Providence, but I love seafood and think Chef Cimarusti is the nicest guy ever. :)

Bonnibella said...

There's a $65 deal in June!?! Aww wish I was there, Providence is a place on my list in LA.

Gastronomer said...

Can't wait to read about your latest meal at Providence :-)

Love this place SO much! Best service in the city.

kevinEats said...

"I'll be fairly blunt when I say the seafood dishes definitely trumps any "land" courses at Providence."

You've not had their Japanese wagyu then I take it? ;)

Diana said...

I can't wait for tomorrow night! I think this non-olive lover might have to opt for the olive foccacia too! Yum! :)

Anna A. said...

Oh boy I can't wait for tomorrow. And seeing that you and D are both olive haters, I will gladly "take one for the team" in that category:)

food je t'aime said...

I love that this is a post about their 4th anniversary dinner special because I just went in for the 5th anniversary dinner last week. I thought it was wonderful. It's interesting because all the proteins on the menu have remained the same--just prepared with different accompanying flavors. And I definitely recommend going with the wine paring this time :)

stuffycheaks said...

YES!! Olives and cheese suck! I've always admired Providence's cheese cart from afar but pray that they never wheeled it anywhere close to me!

nelehelen said...

I'm going in next weekend for to take advantage of their $65 anniversary tasting.. so excited! I haven't been since 2009! your review just got me extra excited!

Kung Food Panda said...

Misty: Pictures help me remember :) Providence was actually better this year around!

Daniel: I had a great meal this year as well at Providence's 5 course tasting special.

Ms. Monkey: Are you going back?

Bonni: I was very impressed this time around. I'll post the dinner up shortly.

Cathy: I thought the service was great, but I'm still OK regarding their service.

Kung Food Panda said...

Kevin: I saw that wagyu on your post and on the menu, sadly it was a bit out of my budget, or at least what I was willing to spend.

Diana: Thanks for being a great dinner date Diana! :D

Anna: You missed out :(

Christina: The menu remained very similar, though this year I opted to substitute the veal for a sea bass as I wasn't too impressed with it last time. Had a great meal at Providence this time though!

StuffyCheaks: I agree. Olives and Cheese, NOT FTW!

Helen: Check out my upcoming post :)

Aaron said...

Many of the courses looked very similar to the tasting menu I had back in 2008. Great pictures of the cheese cart

The Food Addicts said...

This place looks super fancy I think I would need like 5 of those mojito spoons shots. :)

Kung Food Panda said...

Aaron: Thanks! It doesnt seem the menu change all that much at Providence.....

Krissy/Dan: Those alcohol jello shots are great!