Monday, June 13, 2011

Providence LA - Celebrating 6th Anniversary of Mind-blowing Creativity Cimarusti-Style

Providence is one of my favorite restaurants in L.A. - even though I'd only been there once before.  You know how sometimes people say you meet the person you're meant to be with, and "you just know"?  And then you think that's really annoying to hear, until you really experience it yourself?  Well I'd experienced that with Providence - I loved everything about it immediately: the sophisticated yet soothing style, the lack of 'scene', utter focus on exquisite cuisine, plates the look of which set my heart racing - and took my breath away on contact - all came together perfectly for me. Though I've only ever been able to afford the 2-Michelin Starred restaurant once, I knew that it had taken hold of a part of me that can never been released to anyone else ever again.

So, I was beyond excited when I learned of Providence's 5-course tasting menu, in celebration of its sixth anniversary - which was 'only' going to be $70 per person.  I had gotten a chance to try Chef Cimarusti's various ingenious creations at other venues like LAWeekly's Gold Standard and Breadbar's Ibaraki Benefit, but hadn't had a chance to go back to his homebase on Melrose for a full-fledged meal.

Last night, a 'normal' Sunday night for everyone else, a small group of us filed into Providence ready for the extraordinary. We were there to experience their 6th anniversary tasting menu, which began with two sets of amuse bouche: a mojito iced gelee with micro-mint, and a sphere containing a cocktail (screwdriver) that reminded me of The Bazaar's liquid olive in terms of preparation.  Smart - bite-sized cocktails to kick off the meal.  The second set of amuse consisted of a prawn, cheese puff and carrot soup in a shot glass.  The near consensus at our table was that the second set of amuse was too salty, the prawn was just a touch overcooked with flavors that slightly overwhelmed the crustacean, masking its natural ocean-fresh sweetness.  But these were amuse, and we were happy to get two sets of them 'gratis', so no complaints there!

The first of five courses to arrive was the Japanese Kanpachi with original accompaniments of red shiso pearl tapioca, plus slivers of cucumber and enoki mushrooms.  I loved the creative use of tapioca to evoke roe, served with the fish.  The fish was incredibly fresh and loved the saltiness of the skin against the pristine, mild-flavored fish.

When a fellow diner at the table and I discovered that we both love uni, we decided to add a dish from the a la carte menu to our meal and split it - Santa Barbara's Finest.  The description reminded me of the amazing creation that Chef Cimarusti served up at Breadbar's Ibaraki benefit, with the main difference being Santa Barbara spot prawns were used instead of geoduck clams, and gold leaf is added to this dish.  Instead of a glass bowl, this time the dish was served up on a plate - but it was every bit as breath-takingly beautiful as the one from Breadbar.  And every bit as mind-blowing in flavor and skillful interplay of creamy, silky and crunchy textures.  Definitely a 'best-in-meal' that I hope they keep on the menu for a long time.

Course #2 was Bobby's Block Island Scallops, which was incredibly tender and naturally sweet.  This also marked the first time I'd had scallop with (forono) beets - an interesting combination.  The scallop was also accompanied by almonds, nori, and upland cress for visual and textural variety.

Course #3: Wild Pacific Halibut (British Columbia) with a crust of smoked sesame seeds, and side of delta asparagus, sunchoke puree and preserved meyer lemon.  The fish was so tender it fell away with a light flick of the fork, and the sesame seeds added a fragrant crunch.  Loved the sunchoke puree, light and foamy, its savory flavors in combination with the citrus, deftly drawing out the natural, sweet flavors of the fish.

Course #4: Marcho Farms Veal Tenderloin (Franconia, PA).  Some of us preferred fish over meat, especially at a place like Providence that specialized in seafood! The staff was kind enough to accommodate our request for a substitution and gave the seafood-lovers sardine instead of veal.  Both land and sea versions of this dish were cooked sous vide, and served with sweet pea puree, buna shimeji mushrooms, turnips, tomato confit. 

We actually got sort of sad when we realized this was the fourth and final savory course.  If Groundhog Day were ever to happen as in the Bill Murray movie, I would want it to happen with tonight, so that I can relive this meal over and over.

In between our last two courses, we were given a pink grapefruit sorbet and yogurt foam as 'palate cleanser'.  The light, subtly tart sorbet was incredible when paired with the almost frothy, light yogurt foam.

Our 5th and final course was dessert:  Chocolate Cremeaux served with cherries compote, salt & pepper ice cream, port caramel, and what other diners described as 'cocoa puffs' for crunch.  LOVED this dessert, which made me think of a deconstructed black forest cake.  I loved that there were hand torn pieces of cake thrown in on each side as what seems like an after thought, versus going the traditional route of layering cream and other ingredients between layers of ccake.  And we all talked about wanting to recreate the delicious salt & pepper ice cream. 
To finish out the meal, Providence provided a plate of mignardises - my favorite of these was the buttery soft caramels. 

All in all, another mind-blowing meal from the kitchens of a chef who is beyond compare.

Counting a glass of wine that was $18, my personal total came to just under $100 - more than I would normally spend on a meal, but WELL worth it for this caliber of food from Cimarusti, who is absolute genius as far as I'm concerned. 

For those who want to check out the place / capitalize on the deal - the $70 prix fixe meal goes through the end of June (dinner only).

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6.5 bites
Presentation - 6.5 bites
Originality - 6.5 bites
Ambience - 6 stars
Service - 6.5 stars
Overall experience - 6.5 bites
Price - $$$$ (4 bite marks regular menu)
Probability of return visit - 100% 

[To find more deals like this, check out my Daily Specials (dining deals for every night of the week) page, and follow me on Twitter for up to the minute finds!]


5955 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038
Ph: 323.460.4170

Look for reservations:

Providence on Urbanspoon


  1. i live within walking distance but since my husband's a vegetarian i've never thought to go - are there good veggie options?!?

  2. Lucky!!! If I lived within walking distance of this place it would be over for me. I would just direct deposit my paycheck to them.

    They're really all about the seafood and though I'm sure they would do their best to accommodate special requests, I haven't really seen vegetarian offerings on the tasting menus...but a la carte they have an amazing scrambled egg with shaved truffle, and I think they'll do truffle over risotto / spaghetti / ravioli that could be made meatless as well...



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