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Providence vs. Patina

Ok 'hounders. I need a weigh in! The parents are coming into town from San Francisco for my graduation and we're trying to decide on a place for a nice dinner. I suggested Providence, my dad suggested Patina. From my search on the boards, it seems like Patina has had more negative reviews--I know I shouldn't base decisions solely off of other people's opinions, but with the hefty price tag attached to this meal, I don't want to waste my parents money.

What're your thoughts?


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  1. I'd say Providence - I've been to both several times (and have enjoyed both), but overall my vote is for Providence.

    1. PROVIDENCE..unless anyone has an extreme aversion to seafood. Patina has its hits and misses, and I still like it overall, but if I had to choose between both for a one-time meal, it would be Providence for its food, service, wine, and general ambience.

      1. Goodness, is it even a question? Providence is light years ahead of Patina!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Diana

          Only if you do the tasting menu!

          1. re: carter

            No, ala carte is pretty darn good. My husband says he likes the Chowder, and the a-la carte fish and meat is amazing.

        2. Patina.

          Providence is good, but it has never "wowed" me, tasting menu included.

          1. If your parents love seafood, do Providence.

            If they want menu with other options go Patina.

            1. I've never been to Patina, but I just went to Providence last weekend. I had the full tasting menu and it was ok. There were some really good dishes out of the nine courses and some that were decent but none that wow'd me but also none that were awful. Their cocktails are also very good, made with fresh fruits if required. The biggest and probably the only complaint I had was that my table was 1 hour late. Made a reservation for 8:30 but got seated at 9:30. Then they told me the tasting can take up to 2 hours, but ended up being 4 hours, so we left the place around 12:50 AM. That pretty much ruled out doing anything after dinner. Service was nice with waiters aplenty, but with the prices you pay, you'd expect it. I might just be disgruntled with the extremely poor time management, but that aside, the food was ok. I actually was more impressed with the tasting menu at Opus in Koreatown, Wilshire and Western.

              2 Replies
              1. re: syckey

                Sorry to hear about your Providence experience--but interesting final comment! A couple of friends took me out to Opus tonight for a pre-graduation dinner and we had the tasting menu with the wine pairing. Like you said, it was quite impressive.

                Side note: l'm really enjoying all this graduation-related dining. Being the food fiend that I am, I'm getting really well fed over here! =)

                Thanks for all the input so far!

                1. re: syckey

                  That is so nasty that they sat you an hour late! Call the manager and tell him or her, and ask if there is anything they can do to make up for such a thing. Be open and polite, and I'll bet they'll do something.

                  I'm so sorry you were disgruntled. I have always been completely gruntled at Providence!

                2. The space is nicer at Patina, but you don't eat the space.

                  The service and food are much better at Providence; and as Carter mentioned, the tasting menu is quite good.

                  Providence by a long shot as compared to Patina.

                  1. While the service is impeccable at both, I'd go with Providence. The meal I had there was one of the best I have ever had. Also, both spaces are lovely, but the lighting at Patina is strangely yellow.

                    1. You can add another negative review for Patina. We went a couple of years ago for Thanksgiving meal at Patina. The food wasn't bad, but it's not that spectacular for the price. Just foam, foam, and more foam. Strangely enough, the best entree was the heritage turkey. We thought the diners at the next table were strange for ordering turkey in a $75pp fixed priced menu, but as it turned out, best of the lot.

                      I like AOC better than Patina. Haven't tried Providence yet, but will try Opus very soon.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: notmartha

                        I love AOC and I have to chime in for Providence here as well....sick to death of foams. If you want food prepared in a sensible fashion with a nod to purity of flavor and focused on freshness that would be my vote.

                        1. re: notmartha

                          lots of espume at providence too

                        2. It really depends on your and your guests taste in food. Patina has a broader menu, the service is better, and it might "wow" them a bit more in terms of the overall experience.

                          On the other hand, if you like Seafood, Providence has better food.

                          If your parents are picky at all, I vote for Patina because there's something great on the menu for anyone. If they're up for seafood and adventure, Providence.

                          1. PATINA all the way. Best birthday dinner I have ever had. Tasting menu with wine pairings!

                            1. PATINA for sure... not to take anything from Providence, which is outstanding, the food for me is a draw, but especially with folks in town visiting, walking by Disney Hall and sitting down in a beautfiul room like Patina's, it's a bit more of a special occasion place for us...

                              1. Patina didn't really do it for me... nothing spectacular among the dishes i tried (had the seafood tasting menu)... Providence on the other hand, was extraordinary. I couldnt stop gushing to Michael Cimarusti how good his food was, and how I havent been to any restaurant in LA that satisfied me the way Providence did (albeit, this was back in 2005).

                                1. I guess maybe I am reading more to the OP's post than is meant. But he said:

                                  "but with the hefty price tag attached to this meal, I don't want to waste my parents money"

                                  So is either Patina/Providence really worth the dough?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: notmartha

                                    That's a very good point when perhaps you could enjoy 2-3 meals at another exceptional group of restaurants...

                                      1. re: bubbles4me

                                        Especially since your parents are coming from SF, where the "serious" and "formal" style I associate with Patina and Providence is done at a lot of places, and much better, I'd seriously consider going somewhere else. I think that there are a lot of LA restaurants that excel at a more casual, yet still interesting and delicious, dining experience. Something like Grace or AOC or Lucques or Hatfield's.

                                  2. i've eaten at PROVIDENCE twice in the last month and nine or ten times in the last year. i eat at PATINA more because our offices are down the street.

                                    PROVIDENCE hands down is a better restaurant without question.

                                    ate at PATINA on saturday. i don't know how they can call themselves a relais & chateaux restaurant.

                                    - i can't stand to wait in line for a table for which i have a reservation
                                    - the wait staff is stiff and unintuitive
                                    - i ordered a glass of moscato d'asti for dessert and the waiter had to come back with the wine menu so i could point it out
                                    - we were shuffled our menus as if we were sitting at a poker table
                                    - my beignets were so hard, i could have shattered the windows with them...i can't believe i was served these
                                    - the bathrooms have regular paper dispenser bathroom towels, not even the fake ones (even BLUE VELVET had these!)
                                    - the bathrooms were unkept

                                    it gives me no pleasure to say these things. i'm a huge fan of christine splichal and hope this situation turns around, but right now, it will not honor your special day.

                                    go to PROVIDENCE.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: revets2

                                      Revets2, Your spot on!
                                      Providence all the way.
                                      Patina hasn't been a Top Tier force to reckon with for years and I was going there when JS was seating people on Melrose in the early 80's.

                                      1. re: russkar

                                        I think you might have the dates off - JS (Joachim Splichal) was at the Regency club in the early 80's, (Wilshire) then to his own 7th St Bistro (on, well, 7th St. ) then to Max au Triangle (Rodeo? - Great restaurant, but problematic - hard to find) and finally to Patina (Melrose!) in 1989 (according to the Food Network bio - which has his Max au Triangle opening in 1984 - which I'm pretty sure is a few years earlier than it really opened).

                                        1. re: revets2

                                          i completelly concur with revets2.

                                        2. The recent post on Spago makes me wonder if you want to consider that instead?


                                          1. Done both, and I would choose Providence over Patina hands down. You must do the full tasting menu with the wine pairing to make Providence worth it, but oh was it ever! Each course ts sublimely paired with a wine that complements the dish. Generous pours. Ordering off of the menu there would be entirely a different experience, and not one that I would necessarily recommend. Service at providence was casual but attentive, and their timing is excellent. The service was a little too loose at patina for my tastes..

                                            1. I have visited both restaurants twice within the past four months and I dont see a reason to debate them. They are both outstanding restaurants, just different. Not wanting to pick them apart: Prov has light, cutting edge seafood based dishes that have blown me away "chefs tasting menu" and Patina does just about the same thing but on a more well rounded meat, veg, fish based menu. You cant go wrong with either one really. The one advantage that Patina has over Prov....the cheese cart. I hate to say that it devides the restaurants but it does. Its a large rolling cart of goodness that is unmatched in US. I also think Patina has a better wines by the glass list than does Prov. That said: dont forget Spago. Of the three.....I like it the best of all. Unexpected combinations of cutting edge, smartly prepared food that is ALWAYS perfectly presented. Its busier than ever but I think its overlooked among quite a few folks because its a standard bearer here in LA.
                                              The bar is also a great place to take your meal. You give up nothing to dine there and its fast and efficient. Lilly is also a lovely bartender and is one of the two best in LA.
                                              I recently took a friend from out of town there and he was really surprised that is was as laid back as it was..."you men you can wear blue jeans and get this kind of experience?"....yes you can. Enjoy.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: thomtompkins

                                                Our dinner at Patina this week was decidedly "off," in just about every respect. There were many, many in staff, but we had to flag down servers in order to get napkins, in order to get bread. Many hoverers, but not in any way that was truly useful. We have often been in restaurants with half as many staff, twice the service.

                                                The waiter was erudite and articulate, but was far better at talking than listening. I told him what I was looking for in a wine--something unmanipulated, "from" someplace, not a fruit bomb and not with big oak--and he brought me a Chablis that was quite toothpicky. He said, twice, "Premier Cru," as if that was all that needed to be said. (When I was finally able to flag him down, he graciously replaced the wine with something more suitable.)

                                                The fish, when it arrived, was dry and overcooked. And to get the waiter's attention required flagging another waiter and telling him to look for ours. (Given that our waiter seemed to have responsibility for two or perhaps three tables, this disappearing act made no sense.)

                                                There's something about the culture of Patina that more nearly resembled Jacques Tati's Playtime than it did the original restaurant on Melrose Ave I fondly recall.

                                                I asked for the manager on the way out--something I've rarely if ever done before in my entire dining life. It took quite some time for him to arrive. When he did he was polite, solicitous, not at all defensive, and promised me that my next experience at Patina would be very different.

                                                Alas, I'm not sure I want a next experience at Patina. And I'm not convinced that the culture of inattention, or the lack of QC in the kitchen, are things a manager can remedy on a per-customer basis.

                                                Anyone with any thoughts?

                                                1. re: ivanjohnson

                                                  Interesting - your observations so closely match my own. Last visit was February of 2006 -- and after that experience, I would not go back. Just inexcusable service in a restaurant of the price point and reputation of Patina. Service was the issue - bringing the first course out before we even ordered wine for example. The necessity of repeatedly flagging down our waiter matched your experience -- never there when you needed him and full of himself when he was on hand. Just dreadful despite all the soothing words from the manager.

                                              2. I have never been disappointed at Spago. Can't say the same for Providence or Patina.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: droyal

                                                  I've had one of the most memorable meals in recent years with outstanding service and excellent wine pairings to the tasting menu at Providence. The side room or 'patio' adjacent to the potentially noisy main dining room is perfect, the restaurant is perfect for seafood lovers, and for lovers in general. My husband and I enjoyed the privacy next to the dribbling fountain.

                                                2. i like the room at patina little better...as for food....they both have good and so-so day i think

                                                  1. Went to Providence last month for the first time to celebrate my anniversary and had a spectacular meal. Did the full tasting with wine pairings and loved all of it. Have been to Patina a handful of times over the last two years and have never enjoyed it as much as I did my visit to Providence (although I've never had a bad experience at Patina). Both places serve a killer cheese course.

                                                    As others have stated, unless your group has an aversion to seafood, I'd pick Providence over Patina.

                                                    1. Got dragged back to Patina last night. I have a special place in my heart for Patina as I considered it the best restaurant in LA when it was on Melrose and awarded it a Best Meal of the Year Award (only 4 issued in 15 years) around 1998. That puts it at an unfair disadvantage as it will always be compared to the real thing.
                                                      Suffice it to say that only the prices remain as a reminder. Everything is only mediocre and the place was only about half full. The last remaining reason to go IMHO, the cheese guy, is now gone. RIP.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Griller141

                                                        I actually got myself curious about Meals of the Year and looked up my own post and found the following:
                                                        Chinois (1986), Seventh Street Bistro (1987),BernardÂ’s (1988), The Tower (Axel Dikkers)(1989), Checkers (Thomas Keller)(1992), Patina (1996 and 1997), Water Grill (2002)
                                                        There have been none since 2002. What am I missing?

                                                      2. I've eaten at Providence and Patina once each. I will never go back to Providence and I dream of the Cote de Boeuf for two at Patina constantly. Providence almost gassed us outside on the "patio" by turning on the heaters and not lighting them, they got 3 dishes wrong on the Chef's menu, the waiter was a dingbat, and instead of my Jeep Grand Cherokee, the valet guys brought me a Range Rover (an attempt to make up for the bad food?). The food was only okay, several dishes were off.

                                                        Patina was perfect. Service, atmosphere, food, knowledge, the sommelier paired different glasses with different courses flawlessly, the cheese cart and cheese was lovely, the beef was superb, everything was outstanding.

                                                        I've read most of these posts on this issue, and so many have had so many different experiences, sounds like BOTH restaurants have bad nights and of course, good ones. But bad nights at these prices are unacceptable - and BOTH should work it out.

                                                        1. Just enjoyed our anniversary dinner on Christmas Eve at Providence. It was memorable and outrageously delicious. We don't eat meat or foul, or duck or fois gras, but love seafood with our vegies, so we call ourselves Amphibians...lol, kinda like vegetarians 'with benefits'. This probably put us very firmly in the Providence profile. For Christmas Eve, they offered La Vigilia, the holiday meal of seven fishes in the Sicilian tradition. It looked a little rich, laden with octopus mussels and eel, not our favorites, so we rather regretfully passed on the opportunity and instead had the lobster and halibut. Both were quite extraordinary. The complimentary amuse bouche, presented in three parts was to die for, as was the Matsutake soup with a scallop quenelle levitating in the amazing mushroom broth, plus rolled scallop slices on the side for dipping in the broth. My husband claimed it to be the best 2 hours of food ever. Their offerings were stunning. The service was gracious and attentive; never intrusive.
                                                          Providence absolutely trumps Patina, AKA Pretentious.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: VenusCafe

                                                            There is no question in my mind about the relative merits of these places. Patina can have its occasional acceptable and rare good night. Providence is usually reliable but is by no means in the guaranteed category (but I really haven't found any place in contemporary LA that is these days). Even Spago has faltered lately. I am encouraged by your "best 2 hours of food ever" comment and will be back based on that alone.
                                                            There's a new Celestino Drago palce Downtown. I am sure there is a thread on this but I trust Providence people more. Comments?

                                                            1. re: Griller141

                                                              I don't know exactly what a "Providence people" is, but for what it's worth I was just there at Celestino Drago in DTLA and found the place cold and corporate. From the food to the service, it was like sleeping with a mannequin -- no soul or warmth. Nothing wrong with sleeping with a mannequin necessarily so long as you like cuddling up with plastic.

                                                              I think the food is better at Celestino (which is nothing to brag about) and the place doesn't come anywhere close to the original Drago in Santa Monica.

                                                              It's a good place for DTLA, and is probably a better place than Zuca, but probably on par with Cicada.

                                                              Gorgeous layout nonetheless.

                                                              1. re: Griller141

                                                                Agree 100% with ipse's comments above.
                                                                Skip Drago Centro.
                                                                Try Parq at the Montage Beverly Hills.