Latest Adventures

Providence, Hollywood


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To mark our 7th wedding anniversary, as well the hubbs’ birthday, we dined at Providence in Los Angeles. This is the restaurant of highly-acclaimed and ever so talented Chef Michael Cimarusti, who in my opinion, should have gone much further in the first season of Top Chef Masters. He is the one who brought the Water Grill to the forefront of fine dining in Los Angeles. Providence is one of the only restaurants in the LA area to receive a coveted two Michelin stars, and that accomplishment speaks volumes of Chef Cimarusti’s talent.

The restaurant’s layout is simple, yet intriguing. The best two words I can use to describe it are refined simplicity. I loved the barnacles on the walls, and the coral-like decoration that housed the candles on each table. We were immediately seated and offered the drink and wine list by our host. After hearing the specials, it didn’t take long for us to decide to go with the chef’s menu, which is an astounding 15-course meal. I swear my heart beat faster in much anticipation (and slight apprehension) after the server left.

I chose the Splendor in the Grass, which is comprised of Zubrowka vodka, lemongrass-blueberry honey, lychee, prosecco and fresh lemon juice. It was very refreshing, all the flavors were subtle; a great way to kick off a meal.
Let me just preface the following by saying that I’m finding it very difficult to describe everything we were treated to, especially since I’ve never sampled many of these amazing courses, thus having no basis for comparison. You’ll find that every dish has a component that I’ve never had before. Also, this meal took place over the course of 3½ hours or so, and as you can imagine, it became hard to snap photos of the latter plates because it was a tad too dark for my camera.

Amuse bouche: a duo of cocktails, a greyhound martini and margarita. Presentation was awesome.
House cured trout with crispy rice crackers, crème fraiche, gold leaf and trout roe, all on top of lemon gelée. Served alongside puff pastry with a mornay sauce. It was an excellent dish – the flavors all melded together perfectly, buttery fish, tart lemon for the acidity, saltiness from the roe, perfect texture contrast from the crackers. First time flavors: trout roe
Hokkaido scallop sashimi, red shiso gelée, cherry blossom vinaigrette. At first, I was a little nervous about eating raw bivalves, but it was so fresh that it didn’t have that “fishy” taste, the acidity from the vinaigrette was the perfect complement. First time flavors: scallop sashimi (or anything sashimi, for that matter), shiso.
Santa Barbara sea urchin served in a lightly poached egg, champagne beurre blanc, finely diced tomato (concassée?), herbes fines, crouton and domestic caviar. Now, I was really nervous about trying this, having never had sea urchin before. Seeing as it was served in an egg, the best way to enjoy it was to dig all the way to the bottom with your spoon, so as to sample all the flavors working together. The best way I can describe it is that it tasted like the ocean, but not overly salty, more like briny because of the caviar. I am so glad that I tried this, because it was so good. First time flavors: uni, caviar
Santa Barbara spot prawn served atop Dutch white asparagus, prawn roe and extra virgin olive oil. So simple, yet the flavors are so refined. The prawn was cooked and seasoned well, and the understated flavors of the asparagus and olive oil worked with the zesty prawn roe, which was so full of flavor. This was easily one of my favorites. First time flavors: Prawn roe
Unagi (eel) served with abalone served on top of tiny fava beans, turnip, and dashi foam. I remember the eel being flaky like a fish with crispy skin. It was definitely the dominant flavor of the dish, particularly since abalone has a mild flavor similar to squid. The dashi foam was outstanding, the perfect supplement to the dish. First time flavors: The whole dish!
Foie gras sauté with Sonoma cherries, rhubarb sauce and a rhubarb chip. This was easily one of the hubbs’ favorite dishes. I loved that there was a crispy crust that contrasted the rich, decadent foie, and the tartness of both the cherries and rhubarb rounded out the flavor of the foie perfectly. I’ve had foie before, but it was mixed in with other ingredients in the form of a mousse. This was the first time I’ve had a piece of foie, and I have to admit that I’m a fan. (Other) first time flavors: rhubarb
Veal sweetbreads on a bed of polenta, served with quail eggs, summer truffles and grilled ramp. This was another dish that I was nervous about, having never had sweetbreads before. To me, it just tasted like fried meat. I really liked the ramp, though, and oddly enough, it was my favorite part of the dish. Don’t get me wrong, the dish had really nice flavors to it, but it wasn’t something that I would order again. First time flavors: Sweetbreads, summer truffle, ramp
Salmon belly with different preparations of carrot. Roasted carrot, carrot jus, carrot purée, morels and hazelnuts. I don’t necessarily go out of my way to enjoy carrots, but this was a really great way to do so. I think that it may even steal the show from the salmon, which was cooked and seasoned perfectly. The hazelnuts were there for added flavor and texture. First time flavors: morels.
Loin of lamb served with cauliflower, chorizo, pea tendrils and a sauce I don’t remember. I personally don’t like lamb, even though I’ve tried it several different preparations before. So I would have to say that this was my least favorite dish. Not the chef’s fault; I will cop to the “it’s not you, it’s me” excuse.
Time for frommage! I saw the server rolling a cheese cart to other diners, and was excited about all the different cheeses on display. However, being a cheese enthusiast, but not a connoisseur, I didn’t know what to get. We trusted our server to pick out the cheesy goodness that would soon be on our plates and in our bellies, and he did not disappoint. He was even nice enough to write down the cheese selections:
  • Valency , goat’s milk from Loire Valley, France – very mild, almost sweet flavor. Excellent with each of the accoutrements.
  • Berkswell, English cheddar from sheep’s milk – slightly nutty in flavor, also excellent with the accoutrements.
  • Olivet au Foin, cow’s milk from France – a soft, white cheese with a dry rind reminiscent of Brie of Camembert cheese. It was similar in flavor to the Brie, but what was most distinct about it was the straw and hay that is on the rind, whose flavors are noted in the cheese.
  • Rogue River Reserve, cow’s milk blue cheese from Oregon – very robust in flavor with fruit undertones. This cheese packs a punch, and was a great way to end the course.
  • Accoutrements included an outstanding apple jam, figs, candied walnuts and peppered apricot preserves. Each complemented all the cheeses in its own outstanding way. The cheese course was easily one of the highlights of the meal.
Since that wasn’t enough, we got started on the dessert courses. That’s right, courses. There were four. The first one, and my favorite of all, was a lychee-shiso sorbet on top of a disc of calamansi gelée in a yummy pool of white chocolate, coconut milk tapioca soup. The sweet versus tart flavors were phenomenal. I’m still thinking about it because that’s how good it was. It’s so good that there is a version of it served at LaMill Coffee Boutique in Silver Lake (Chef Cimarusti designed the menu there).  
Next was a raspberry gelée with a rose sorbet in what I would describe as a raspberry purée, with some macaroons. In my opinion, the raspberry was too tart, but the flavors were clean and pleasant.
The third dessert course was a caramal pudding on top of a burnt caramel sauce, served with chopped apricots, a chocolate covered peanut and caramel corn. I loved the pudding, and thought that it would have been able to stand on its own. It’s one of those things that you can enjoy massive quantities of while watching TV on the couch. I thought that the burnt caramel overpowered the rest of the dessert, and the tart apricots were a good addition that cut the sweetness of the dish.
Finally, the last course, which was a dark chocolate mousse with sesame crackers, sesame ice cream and more apricots. It was decadent, it was silky smooth, it was awesome. Enough said.
Because we were still starving at this point, our server brought us petit fours that I didn’t get to photograph. In fact, the server really didn’t describe it so much, so I can’t even talk about it much. It was good, though. Overall, the entire meal was outstanding, the flavors were clean, balanced, simple, yet complex at the same time.

Chef Cimarusti is a great talent, definitely a culinary treasure that Los Angeles is lucky enough to have. Providence is definitely a must for foodies. I will say, however, save up money for the chef’s menu, as we are still experiencing some sticker shock. Also, allot some time to taste and enjoy, you will not be disappointed.

Providence, 5955 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles