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Sona v. Providence

ckbear Sep 21, 2006 04:45 AM

Haven't been to either - can anyone recommend one over the other?

  1. russkar Sep 21, 2006 05:31 AM

    Been to SONA 3 times for the 9 course Chefs Menu, will not be returning, totally underwhelmed ea time.

    Providence, been 30+ times always wonderful. Chef's Table , 12 courses.
    other options are OPUS , Melisse, La Cachette, Spago(big fave), Valentino (Angelo has returned)

    1. p
      pizookie75 Sep 21, 2006 06:26 AM

      For atmosphere, I go for Providence.
      They also had some excellent seafood dishes.
      Service could not be beat.

      For tasting menu, I enjoyed Sona. They also have their dessert place, Boule, directly across the street. Food was more memorable than service.

      1. chica Sep 21, 2006 06:31 AM

        For Sona, tasting menu is the way to go.

        For Providence, either tasting menu or a la carte will impress you.

        I've had excellent service at both, although Sona can admittedly be a bit overbearing.

        Have fun!

        1. w
          woojink Sep 21, 2006 03:54 PM

          Providence = awesome. Michael Cimarusti is a fantastic chef. The food is amazing and the service very good. The only area which I wish they could improve is the room. Some like it a lot, it is a bit austere in my mind, but that has never dissuaded me from going back... nor will it in the future.

          Sona - can be good, but as mentioned earlier, generally underwhelming. Even the tasting menu.

          1. o
            ostudio Sep 21, 2006 04:02 PM

            The first time I went to Sona for the tasting menu - interesting combinations of textures, beautiful presentation, but I found everything a tad bit salty for my palette.
            The service is overbearing and slightly comical with their 5 minute run down of EVERY ingredient in each dish. I appreciate the energy, but sometimes I just want to let my tastebuds discover the subtle nuances.... second time at Sona was disappointing.

            Providence on the other hand has been wonderful both times that I've gone.
            The service is gracious without being overbearing. and in my opinion the food sparkles.
            I went with a large group the first time (10 of us) and each course of the tasting menu was spot on and hot, which is impressive. I was also impressed that when we asked the sommelier for a wine rec, he brought us a bottle that was not only perfectly suited for what we had ordered, but turned out to be $55.00 which is very resonable considering that there are many very expensive bottles on their wine list.

            1. r
              RicRios Sep 21, 2006 04:14 PM

              I believe I said this before; anyways, here it goes one more time:

              Providence = Chow business
              Sona = Show business

              1. o
                ostudio Sep 21, 2006 04:27 PM

                Spot on Ric Rios! LOL

                1. jcwla Sep 21, 2006 05:03 PM

                  Sona is wildly inconsistent but I have had some wonderful food there along with plenty of what Geoff Edwards on "Treasure Hunt" would call "klunks." I haven't been impressed with anything at Providence except the "chowda" which is a heart attack in a bowl but still yummy. Providence is vastly overrated on this board but unfortunately Sona is not reliably good either.

                  1. c
                    ckbear Sep 21, 2006 05:06 PM

                    thanks for the feedback guys! sounds like providence has a slightly better edge on this board. will check it out and keep you guys posted.

                    1. s
                      SebastianRedSox Sep 21, 2006 11:13 PM

                      Can't speak for sona yet, but...

                      Providence's tasting menu is sublime. Michael reminds me of the great joel robuchon in some ways. At least in terms of aim for subtlety. It starts out lots of sharp and refreshing flavors he mixes with oysters and flavorful small fish. Then he opens up to broader, more savory flavors. My favorite dish was a seared day boat scallop with fois gras ravoli, fava bean pate, and summer truffles. It was the most amazing single dish I've ever had. His desserts are not exactly bombastic, but quite refined. The choice of fine cheeses was clearly top notch, someone knew what they were doing (sadly some "5 star" restaurants don't know thier fine cheeses). And definitely go for the wine pairings.

                      Best of all? It's not overpriced.

                      1. w
                        webb Sep 21, 2006 11:45 PM

                        Gosh, my experience was just the opposite from most people here. I've had the tasting menues at both Sona and Providence. I found the food at Sona to be excellent but the service spotty, while Providence underwhelmed me in the taste-buds department but the service was excellent.

                        1. g
                          globlamega Sep 22, 2006 12:49 AM

                          I love the food at Sona but the desserts to me are the part that's underwhelming

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: globlamega
                            chica Sep 22, 2006 03:39 AM

                            really? I've actually gone there just for a dessert fix.

                            1. re: chica
                              foodiemahoodie Feb 4, 2009 11:08 PM

                              Sona for dessert? Here's a secret - Providence has a dessert tasting menu! So if you're hankering for sweets and it's past 10:00 - head on down. Decadent, sexy, romantic idea.

                            2. re: globlamega
                              russkar Sep 22, 2006 05:32 AM

                              Considering that practically half of the NINE Course TM is dessert(4 of the courses) it's hard to imagine? We thought that everything was nothing more than a tremendous effort that Failed Miserably, 3 times can't be wrong spread out over 2 years.
                              Give me Providence anytime! or Melisse , Spago, La Cachette, Valentino, Cut, Opus, etc..........

                              1. re: russkar
                                chica Sep 22, 2006 05:57 AM

                                It's too bad you've had such miserable food! For most Angelenos who probably haven't the time or money to spend on fine dining, I think Sona is still considered a top special occasion spot, at least enough for many to consider a contender. To each her (or his) own!

                                1. re: chica
                                  russkar Sep 22, 2006 06:10 AM

                                  I totally agree with you. The problem was we went 3 times , twice comped, nine course TM, it's weak.
                                  No axe to grind, SONA just isn't in the big game in mine and other's opinions? That note in the Men's Room from TK (Thomas Keller) praising David just doesn't make the food taste any better. Kar said it best, why are you making me go the third time, even for free?
                                  I hate to see anyone spend their hard earned $$$ for Level 2?

                                  1. re: russkar
                                    chica Sep 22, 2006 06:19 AM

                                    lol! I can't imagine going to the bathroom and coming out liking the food better because of a promo.

                                    Dinner at Sona comped? I think most people would still take that deal! Well, unless of course you had the choice of it being comped elsewhere instead. ;]

                                    1. re: chica
                                      russkar Sep 22, 2006 06:52 AM

                                      The Ultimate Comp happened for my Birthday last year by a Dear friend at URASAWA, by a occasional Chowhound, 900- Bingo! "Swift"y was a witness.
                                      I'm sure there's been some heavy reciprocation since on my part.

                            3. r
                              revets2 Sep 22, 2006 07:25 AM

                              i've never felt like my meal was mindblowing at sona. prefer providence. IMO. i can never remember what i had like i can when i've had an incredible meal. and for that $$$, yes, it should be incredible.

                              1. c
                                ckbear Sep 26, 2006 12:16 AM

                                mini report on the sona experience:

                                i hadnt been there before, so i was a little surprised by the surrounding neighborhood. i knew it was in hollywood but it felt sort of oddly placed on a dark strip of melrose. the dining room was nice, and the service was very good, but onto the food...

                                for starters, my party ordered the crab (excellent), the bacon wrapped scallops (even better) and the pork belly risotto (a little fatty, but also excellent). all portions were very generous. we also received three amuse bouches, some slices of hamachi, cubes of blue fin tuna and a very odd cantaloupe juice thing with a wasabi crusted soy marshmallow. not a fan.

                                for the entrees, we ordered the bass, steak and i ordered, with some reservation but after much pressuring by the waiter, the chilean turbot, which apparently is a white fish like halibut. the turbot was extremely disappointing - in fact, it tasted fishy and was blandly flavored. i didnt try the bass, the steak was fine but i dont think of providence as a place to be ordering steak in the first place. the waiter noticed that i barely touched my entree, and when i told him i was not very pleased (nicely of course), he automatically took it off the bill and even brought an extra dessert (a chocolate mousse with coffee grounds and marshmallows). we also ordered the harry's strawberries, which was basiaclly a pile of strawberries. the desserts were fine, but nothing to write home about. even though the food was good, i think my turbot experience disappointed me enough to set the tone for the rest of the evening. not sure ill be going back soon, but id be willing to try again at a later point since everyone else seems to like it so much.

                                total bill for three with 4 glasses of wine was $260, but keep in mind that the waiter took off my entree.

                                1. c
                                  ckbear Oct 7, 2006 09:58 PM

                                  i just realized that i had put minireport for "sona" in my previous post, but i had really meant that for providence!

                                  i wanted to give an update on my actual experience at sona, which i visited last week. im sure many chowhounds would disagree, but i absolutely loved sona, where i was more lukewarm about providence.

                                  the service was outstanding at sona, without being pretentious. something i really appreciated was the server asking about food allergies prior to bringing out the amuse, in my experience this is something that has to be specified voluntarily (a member of our party is allergic to fish). they were very good about refilling our bread plates, but almost too much so - they probably did this about three times.

                                  for food:
                                  started us out with a muse of smoked salmon, asian pear, over chive creme fraiche thin crepe like thing - very good.

                                  veal sweetbreads - very good
                                  chino farms corn soup - good, the beignet was very good
                                  rabbit confit ravioli - very good

                                  tenderloin, cooked rare - very good
                                  slow cooked short ribs - very good, comparable to the ones at lucques, but a tad too greasy
                                  lamb chops - outstanding, without being too gamey

                                  lemon cheesecake - this was probably the only miss of the night. i was extremely underwhelmed by the dessert, which is so disappointing since ive heard so much about sona's desserts. must be the absence of michelle in the kitchen. however, the selection of candies from boule made up for the lackluster cheesecake.

                                  with a bottle of riesling, dinner for three was $330.

                                  1. w
                                    world eater Feb 4, 2009 08:52 AM

                                    Providence rules Los Angeles, Sona is nice, but the service at Providence blows all Los Angeles restaurants east of the 405 out of the water.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: world eater
                                      epop Feb 4, 2009 02:44 PM

                                      why not west of the 405 as well?

                                    2. f
                                      foodiemahoodie Feb 4, 2009 11:13 PM

                                      Sona is pretty good, but Providence is definitely better. I look forward to Providence. I crave Providence.

                                      Sona? I know it'll be good, but I prefer a la carte. The tasting menu is long and involved - and that can fun. But there's a depth of flavor and taste you get with Providence. Sona isn't bad, nowhere near it, but I can't remember one dish I crave. Not one. I do like the noisy vibe there. Providence is more serene and elegant.

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