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Providence "book the 'worst table' save 10%" dinner report!

d
Diana Apr 15, 2007 10:52 AM

So I had my Life Day dinner last night, and it was indeed heavenly. We had booked the "Worst table" in order to save a little $$$. Of course, I made my reservation way in advance, warned them of my food allergies and let them know it was a special day. In fact, since I had been there on April 14th last year for Life Day, they were able to "look me up".

We arrived at 7:30 pm, dressed well and hungry.

Now, to answer everyone's biggest questions-which table is it? How bad is it?

The table is a two top in the room to the left of the entrance (the "white room" with the flowery things sort of stuck to the walls. It is the table on the right side of the exit to the patio as you are facing the patio. It sits near the sommalier/bus station, but the wall dividing the patio from the room also blocks the station.

It wasn't bad at all. In fact, I found it rather nice, to tell the truth. I got a great view of the room, everyone in it, and who was coming in the doorway. My husband looked out on the patio, he couldn;t see the sommlier/bu station, but could watch the people dining on the covered patio when he wasn't gazing romantically into my eyes. there was plenty of space between us and the table to the left, and the pathway ton the other side was so large, I didn't come near to any waiter, sommalier, etc. "contact" as one would in a cramped room. It made it easier for our server, and Drew, the sommalier to get food to us. As the patio was headed and covered, I had no issue with cold breezes, and Saturday night was chilly. I would actually request that table again, even without the 10% savings. I know some chowhounds pooh-pooh that particular room, but it ws very nice.

I had asked upon entering if the chef's table was free for perhaps 2 (Saturdays, they prefer to book at least 4 there), but it wasn't. Had I been at the chef's table, though, I wouldn't have had as wonderful an evening!

For the dishes. Well, many wonderful dishes! We had the Chef's Tasting Menu, and I was told it was designed especially for my, my food allergies, and in honor of Life Day (they looked that up, too). We had bought a bunch of wine for Drew to match with our meal, and he did a splendind job. I had to keep a low intake, I'm afraid, as I have little body fat and weigh under 107 lbs! The hardest part was asking them to stop refilling my glass every time it emptied!

I won't go into every dish, the evening was a blur, and it's hard to describe the vibrance of flavors.

Basic highlights of the many course (over 15! ) meal-in no particular order- included Raw Scallops with purple shiso, konpachi, salmon risotto with salmon roe, berkshire pork belly, king crab, lobster, foie gras, prime new york steak, turbot, two massive salt curst and rosemary baked femal santa barbara spot praws with the heads and roe (presented and "dissected" at table side!), and expanded cheese plate with 6 small samplings of cheeses, the famed white chocolate cardamom lolly pop, and petit fours. I know I'm eaving some out, but it's just the morning after, and some memories need to be refreshed. let me just say the flavors were fresh and crisp and vibrant. The peas and pea tendrils on a few of the dishes tasted right from the garden.

We paired with a home made honey mead, a california made malvasia bianca, alsacian reisling, a california vignier, and a california black muscat (of course we DIDN't finish any botles. Drew also snuck me tastes of a malbec from the south of France and a very light fruity red, the varietal I'm afraid to say I can't recall.

Partwas through the meal, one of the hosts came over and apologized profusely then asked if a photographer for a food site could take our picture, as they were interested n the "worst tabe" offer, and wanted to publish info on it. He couldn't remember what site, I think he said "Citysearch" (dark music here). I suppose we looked fabulous enough to photograph.

That, or we looked cheap enough to take the worst table for a discount!

It was an amazing meal. We were there from 7:30 PM to past midnight, spoke to wonderful people next to us, had great people watching, had our picture taken and ate an amazing meal.

Had I gotten the chef's table, I would have had the amazing meal, but not any of the other stuff!

All that for two, with corkage, sparkling water for $430 before tip. I tipped big-based upon the meal BEFORE the 10% discount, of course.

What an evening!

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  1. Debbie W Apr 15, 2007 11:56 AM

    Congrats on your Life Day and thanks for writing up your Providence meal and answering the "worst table" question. Would you ever consider Urasawa for your annual Life Day celebration? We've only been once, when I got some money that I hadn't expected, but recently I rented my backyard for a commercial shoot for a few hours and I made the easiest $1500 I've ever made. You can bet that $800 or whatever of it is going to fund another meal at Urasawa - the rest being spent on a meal at Alex at the Wynn Las Vegas and the leftover from that, we'll see when we know how much is leftover!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Debbie W
      d
      Diana Apr 15, 2007 01:27 PM

      I have to say I never would do Urasawa for Life Day. I think Urasawa is far beyond me ever going there.

      Luckily, I have more reachable sushi and sashimi options in Asanebo, and 4 on 6 for high-end, Houe of Taka for mid range fabulous fish, and Midori for pretty decent AYCE.

      Still I wonder what Alex is like?

      Next year we'l either do providence again, or somewhere like valentino's, Grace or Luques.

      Or maybe somewhere new will have opened!

      1. re: Diana
        Debbie W Apr 15, 2007 02:40 PM

        Hope you don't mind the suggestion, but I really think you should try Sushi Iki in Tarzana (next to Charlie G's steakhouse) for high end sushi in the Valley, if you haven't already. If you do it with lots of live items, count on a couple hundred bucks for dinner for two. But it is possible to eat less expensively, for sure. We had a sushi-only dinner there this week that ran $65 before drinks - 5 orders of nigiri which we shared, as the cuts are enormous, and two cut rolls. Plenty of food.

    2. w
      wideeyedraven Apr 15, 2007 02:24 PM

      That sounds like a fabulous time. I enjoyed eating in that room as well when I went. Although I feel like I probably know, can you tell me what a Life day is?

      just curious and again, congrats, sounds like a great, great time

      1 Reply
      1. re: wideeyedraven
        i
        Itslikeimsayin Apr 16, 2007 09:08 AM

        Here's the thread that was the precursor to this one, which explains "Life Day."
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/390223

      2. z
        zack Apr 16, 2007 12:18 AM

        i sat at that exact same table last time i dined at providence! there was no mention about it being the worst table in the restaurant and i definitely did not receive any discounts on my bill. it was sometime in january and i do recall it being quite chilly due to the cold breeze coming in from the covered patio area. as the weather gets warmer at night, i wouldn't mind being seated there again for 10% off. thanks for the report back!

        1 Reply
        1. re: zack
          d
          diningdivala Apr 16, 2007 11:20 AM

          Here's something about the Providence worst table for eater
          http://la.eater.com/archives/2007/03/...

          Sounds like you have to know to ask for it, they don't tell you.

        2. r
          revets2 Apr 16, 2007 03:47 AM

          diana, was there the same night. thanks for explaining the photographer. asked matthew what they were serving tableside in your direction and he told me prawns encrusted in salt. we had the 5-course tasting. excellent. am usually sitting at the chef's table for a variety of reasons and this was the first time in a while i'd partaken in the dining room. i don't know what all the fuss is about. i agree. the room is lovely and i think i preferred it to the chef's table. i think drew, donato, matthew, and the whole crew is excellent. i also think the 5-course is a steal at $75 when i consider that's what we're usually paying for whole in the wall, low ambiance, low-staff, high-quality omakase.

          5 Replies
          1. re: revets2
            meganinlosfeliz Apr 16, 2007 09:36 AM

            Interesting that is the worst table. Like Zack, I too was seated there when I dined at Providence 2 weekends ago. I had no idea that was designated the worst, and actually kind of feel like a schmuck for having sat there and paid full price... It's never fun to be seated at a table you feel is the worst, let alone being seated at a table publicly acknowledged as the worst!

            1. re: meganinlosfeliz
              d
              Diana Apr 16, 2007 10:06 AM

              I find that it really isn't a bad table at all. Deal or no deal, I think I might hae requested it. We weren't crammed in a corner, or next to the kitchen or bathroom, we had plenty of space, a good view of the room...it was a NICE table!

              It helps to have known ahead of time, I guess.

              Don't feel bad; in my mind, if your meal was good and you were happy then, who cares where you sat. Did you feel it was a bad table at the time?

              1. re: Diana
                meganinlosfeliz Apr 16, 2007 11:21 AM

                If we had gotten the discount, I'd have loved it. Having not known, I feel like a bit of a fool is all. We did the 9 course tasting so we would have saved a lot. Also, they made a big fuss about us being repeat customers, etc. Hard to feel special now knowing we were given what they perceive to be the worst, and without the discount offered for sitting there.

                So the issue for me isn't whether I found it to be a bad table. I thought it was decent. I realize, however, why it's said to be bad - you hear all the server talk and they congregate next to you and watch the room, confer with one another, etc. Totally worth it for 10% of course. But again, that discount did not extend to us.

                1. re: meganinlosfeliz
                  b
                  Babette Apr 17, 2007 02:08 PM

                  Maybe you should take it up with the restaurant. It doesn't seem fair if all who are seated at the advertised "worst table" aren't given the discount. Perhaps they will make it up to you.

                  1. re: Babette
                    meganinlosfeliz Apr 17, 2007 02:26 PM

                    Restaurant owners always complain that we vent on the boards and don't take our criticisms directly to them, and I think sometimes they are right - we should give them the option of trying to make it up to us. I really should contact them.

          2. rachaels Apr 16, 2007 11:09 AM

            I think it's so lovely that you have a "Life Day"! That's amazing. I'm headed to Providence on my birthday, after your report I can't wait to go!

            1. pinotgrisgirl Apr 17, 2007 08:17 AM

              I really don't get Providence. The Chef's got a major attitude and their Monkfish was grossly fishy. However, our server told us "that's just the way monkfish is." Sorry, wrong answer. Won't go back ever.

              6 Replies
              1. re: pinotgrisgirl
                meganinlosfeliz Apr 17, 2007 10:02 AM

                The chef was rude? I am so surprised to hear that. He has always struck me as a very shy, low key guy.

                1. re: pinotgrisgirl
                  d
                  Diana Apr 17, 2007 11:19 AM

                  That's so totally the opposite of anything I've heard or experienced! How did the chef demonstrate an attitude? He's always been nice when he has the time to come say hi to me...Also, I've NEVER had a server speak like that.

                  1. re: pinotgrisgirl
                    h
                    holybull Apr 17, 2007 11:57 AM

                    That sounds so unlike Providence.
                    I always have the tasting menus there, and on several occasions when the staff felt that a person at the table wasn't into what they placed in front of them, they replaced it with another dish.

                    We do tend to go during the middle of the week when it's not as busy, so maybe service is better at those times.

                    1. re: holybull
                      r
                      revets2 Apr 17, 2007 01:19 PM

                      having been there on a very busy saturday last week, i can say service was spot on. pinotgrisgirl's anathema, although possible, is not the norm at PROVIDENCE.

                      1. re: revets2
                        meganinlosfeliz Apr 17, 2007 01:37 PM

                        Agree - I have always gone on Fri or Sat and always had gracious service.

                    2. re: pinotgrisgirl
                      a
                      alison Apr 17, 2007 03:44 PM

                      Are you sure you have the right restaurant & the right chef ?

                      Michael is the most humble, pleasant chef I've ever met & I have been told by the wait staff that if your plate comes back to the kitchen uneaten, the wait staff are questioned by him to see why the customer didn't eat it.

                      But, you're right : You just really don't "get" Providence. That's ok, other people do.

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