March 31, 2014

Providence LA, West Hollywood

Providence LA is one of the most well known fine dining restaurants in Los Angeles and arguably one of the best restaurants in town with chef and owner Michael Cimarusti behind the wheels. The restaurant is located on a quiet stretch of Melrose Ave right at the corner of Cole. It was bustling when we arrived for our 8pm reservation and the host quickly checked us in and guided us to our table in a semi-private room. The restaurant is split in half, with an open dining area on to the left and smaller dining rooms on the right, one of which had a view of the wine cellar. The decor is elegant yet comfortable and the neutral tones make a wonderful backdrop for the artistic touches throughout the dining room.

The exceptional service and attention to detail is worth pointing out. After we ordered the signature and seasonal menu with wine pairing, my husband received a personalized copy of the menu including a birthday wish. The little touches make a lasting impression and certainly adds to the overall dining experience. Martin also took great care of us by arranging for a tour of the wine cellar and the kitchen after dinner.

We started our meal with a nicely balance bourbon based cocktail that had the most wonderful aroma of orange from the peel. Just the right amount of sweet and bitter. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the cocktail, but I would gladly order it again.

Bacon brioche bread with half salted butter
The bacon brioche bread on the right was sinfully delicious with the creamy butter from Normandie. There were pieces of salty fatty bacon throughout the slightly sweet and fluffy brioche. It was easy to over indulge on these.

Dark and stormy
The meal started off with this jellied rum topped with ginger beer foam. The ginger foam was light and airy, a nice balance to the rum jelly.

Scallop nasturtium
This was essentially a scallop taco wrapped in a nasturtium leaf topped with crispy rice. A good balance of sweet, salty and crunchy.

Chips and dip
Perfectly light and crispy salmon skin as the chip served with creme fraiche with ikura and chives as the dip. The dip was creamy and the ikura added tiny bursts of saltiness to each bite.

Squid and chorizo (left) abalone (right)
These skewers were grilled over charcoal and had a nice smokey flavor to them. The squid was tender and sweet which paired nicely with the chorizo which was salty and spicy. The abalone had a good balance of sweet and salty, salty being from the miso glaze. 

Now, on to our seasonal six course tasting menu (215/290 with wine pairing) 

Wild big eye tuna sashimi (Hawaii)
We started off with substantial pieces of tuna sashimi paired with egg yolk emulsified with dashi, slices of black truffle, crispy rice, and cucumber. The tuna was so fresh and tender. Each component on the plate was perfect and the black truffle did not overwhelm the fish as I had expected.

The ugly bunch
Perhaps "ugly" in its original form, it was a masterpiece in a bowl. This was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. This was the sweet, fresh and salty taste of the ocean in a bowl. The smoked crème fraîche panna cotta provided a wonderful creamy balance. Yes, that is a gold leaf on top of the uni.

Salt roasted spot prawns
When I think of Providence, I think of this dish. The sea salt encrusted spot prawns arrived on a rolling cart with the distinct scent of rosemary in the air. The prawns were prepared table side and finished with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a lemon wedge. Although cooked in salt, the sweet and tender prawns were perfectly seasoned and not a touch too salty. 

Nancy’s day boat scallop (Maine)
This dish was not part of the tasting menu, but being scallop fans, we decided to add this to our our meal. The scallop was cooked to perfectly and paired with earthy beets, crunchy hazelnut and ras el hanout. 

Black truffles
This course had four options: risotto, pasta alla chitarra, soft scrambled eggs, raviolo all’uovo

We opted for pasta alla chitarra and raviolo all’uovo. Both dishes arrived with a nice truffle butter sauce, which was followed by a giant box of black truffles that were freshly shaved onto each dish. The aroma of truffles falling on the pasta was tantalizing. The pastas were perfectly al dente and although both were good, the raviolo all'uovo was my favorite because the rich and creamy yolk created a wonderful sauce with the freshly shaved black truffles.

Wagyu beef A5 (Kagoshima, Japan)
Wagyu beef never tasted so good! The fat to meat ratio was 60/40 and the beef was cooked to a medium rare as suggested by the kitchen. Each bite was a fatty and juicy explosion mixed with intense beef flavor. I was in wagyu beef heaven and almost forgot about the yukon gold potato fondant and baby broccoli on the plate. 

Crème fraîche, sablé breton
The tasting menu ended with the dessert that landed the head pastry chef his job at Providence. Don't let all the white fluff fool you, the butter cookie is at the bottom and not to be missed. The almond financier was moist and fluffy and the chestnut jam was a wonderful surprise. 

Petit fours
Just when we thought the meal was over, a tiny tray of macarons, caramels and pâtes de fruits arrived. With no room left, we had to pass on these delicious looking confections and move on to coffee.

The restaurant proudly serves a selection of La Mill coffees brewed in a single serving French press. It was a perfect way to end a terrific meal.

Providence LA
5955 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038

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