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Jul 24, 2007 06:28 PM

Birthday @ Providence

So I have a reservation for next Wednesday at Providence to celebrate my 30th birthday with my parents and brother. Which is nice because my father will paying and he doesn't mind spending on a fantastic meal. And he's a wine guy, so we're covered there. My question is not whether to do a tasting menu or not (that's a given, since it's a special occasion) but which one to do? The 5 course doesn't seem to be enough, so I was thinking the 9 course...but then going all out for the Chef's Tasting menu is tempting. I was wondering just exactly how much food that is and how long it takes? Also, there are some dishes described on reviews here that sound amazing- can you request anything in particular? Our res is currently for 8, but I might move it up a bit...please let me know your thoughts!

(There is also the temptation to say it's a big birthday, let's do Urasawa, but after a big party Saturday night, I might get some dirty looks)

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  1. Congrats on turning the big 30! What a splendid way to celebrate. I was there last weekend. We did the 9 course, and it took 4 hours. Not that there were delays (except for a very brief delay on the cheese course), that's just how long it took. I subbed out the veal for some duck. Initially they suggested tuna, but there was already a tuna tartare. Our waiter had to check with the kitchen, and then two of us had to accept the duck in order for him to do the substitution. Anyhow, I'm not sure about requesting something in particular that they've served before.
    I was very full from the 9 course, but I wouldn't need to get my arm twisted to do the Chef's TM.

    1 Reply
    1. re: slacker

      The chef's menu has more courses, but isn't necessarily more filling than the 9-course. The portions are smaller so you get to try more things.

    2. My rec is to go all out, girl-you're tunring 30!

      For the chef's TM, expect to be there most of the evening, 4-5 hours. The time will fly by.

      I loved the salt crusted spot prawns, but I don't know if they will be served.

      As the Chef's TM is sort of done on the spot with whatever's fresh, making requests really isn't a good idea. You want to let Chef surprise you with whatever he can whip up.

      Instead of the wine pairings, ask the sommlier to pair three or four wines with the whole menu-that way, you can remember what you ate and report back to us!

      1. I'm glad you posted this. I have a paid-for dinner for two I'm owed from my employer and I was thinking of Providence. There is only two of us and I've never done a tasting menu before. Is that what we should do?

        1 Reply
        1. re: krez

          YES. Especially if paid by someone else; nice. If you enjoy wine, definitely do the wine pairing. I was a little concerned that it might be too much wine, and my friends would have to roll me to the sidewalk, but it turned out to be just fine for me. You can also split the pairing if you prefer.

        2. So we went...and went all out. And thus- this is long. chef's tasting menu it was! And even with it, they were very concerned and accomodating about my restrictions, almost too much so. (I'm gluten and lactose intolerant, the latter being more difficult for them) We didn't do wine pairings, but rather just started with some excellent champagne and then one white- a riesling- and one red- something amazing and french, not sure what. But then the food started coming...

          (please forgive some of the spelling- I'm usually good, but don't come across some of these words very often!)

          Amuse #1- Gin and Tonic Gelee on a Spoon. Or as my dad said: "Jello shots!"

          Amuse #2- Mojito ravioli; it looked a bit like a green egg yolk, but when you bit into it, juice squirted out that did indeed taste just like a mojito! Awesome.

          Amuse #3- Kushi Oyster with tabasco caviar, champagne mignionette and Cocktail sauce. My father isn't a fan of oysters- but really enjoyed this little bite.

          Amuse #4- Watermelon juice with melon balls, green olives...and wasabi oil. Very interesting and very good- you tasted the sweet with the juice and the balls, and then had a shot of bitter with the olive. And then when our sinuses cleared, we realized the wasabi was in there too.

          Main #1- Fresh King Crab (apparanly only available one week of the year) with cryovacked melon, cantelope puree and a melon tuille. Very tasty, good flavor combinations.

          Main #2- Hamachi tartar with wasabi, radish and hearts of palm two ways- one in a band around the tartar, and the other in little diamonds on the plate- those were marinated in red wine and looked nothing like heart of palm- but all tasted good together.

          Main #3- Fois Gras parfait with foie gras powder, cherry powder and cherry gelee. OH MY GOD. Tasted like dessert- as odd as it was, we were in heaven. Especially my mother, the foie gras conossieur.

          Main #4- Poached Lobster "ravioli" - the ravioli was sheets of yellow beet gelee. This was topped with some American Caviar and was just sublime with a bit of tarragon and a late kick of anise.

          Main #5- John Dory with a confit of slow roasted tomatoes, diced potatoes, baby clams and lemon foam. This is where one of my few problems hit- I personally thought the fish was slightly overcooked, but everyone else thought it was great. And the clams were excellent. Ahat I loved was that this was the only dish with any real starch in it- because of it, you never got that carb fullness or bloat, despite the double-digit courses.

          Main #6- Braised Pork Belly with apricot puree, root of chicory salsify, mustard greens and a ginger-lemongrass something...I can't read my own writing. But this was quite the wonderful indulgence- and my carnivore brother had a bigger smile than I've seen him give in a long time. Just got me more excited for the hyped up pork belly at Craft- which I'm having tonight for sure!

          Main #7- Tazmanian Sea Trout with tokio negi (a japanese green onion), carrots and shenzi??? (again, can't read my writing...) Also had a little chip of crisp salmon skin on the side. There's something else written below this dish on my note pad, but for the life of me- I have no idea what it says!!! :/

          Main #8- Since I don't care for red meat (I know, how un-Chow like) I got turbot while my parents had lamb, but we had the same preparation, which was pretty straight forward- canele of tomato (which was a bit strong- and I love tomato) with onions, eggplant, asparagus and yummy, buttery morels.

          Dessert #1- The odd Bacon and Peanut butter macaroon with banana chips. I'm not a fan of peanut butter nor bananas so I didn't care for it- but everyone else liked it, despite the strange combination. Our server said he feels like Homer Simpson when he has the desserts with bacon in them- which seemed like the perfect analogy. Gluttonous for sure.

          Dessert #2- Passion Fruit gelee with lychee shiso sorbet, basil seeds and coconut soymilk- which is what really made the dish. I think I was also given a tangerine shot at this time, which looked even more like an egg yolk, but tasted exactly like a very, very ripe tangerine. Tart is an understatement.

          Dessert #3- Here I was given a strawberry capsule- like hard sorbet- with vodka in in. Love the vodka! That was served with more lemon sorbet and candied pistachios. however, I kept eating off my mother's plate- LOVED their chocoate ganache with cherry and fig compote. That's ideal for me- too bad the restaurant thought it had too much dairy to serve me! However, the worst faces of the evening came when they tasted what that was served with- salt and pepper ice cream. Hmmh, kudos for trying, but it was a bit much. reminded me of Glenny's salt and pepper soy crisps- good for a snack with that texture, not so much for a soft dessert.

          All in all, excellent on all fronts. Took 3 1/2 hours, but time flew and we were just anticipating the next course. I was almost disappointed when dessert came- I much prefer savory dishes and just wanted to see what else they came up with. I also didn't really love the desserts. Now, I can't eat a lot of them and don't have a huge sweet tooth- I'm happy ending a meal with a good rich piece of dark chocolate- but these were too frothy and tangy for my taste. (minus the chocolate and fig) I was even disappointed with the macarons that came with the petit fours. Oh well, I can live without the dessert. The problem with the chef's menu was that while everything is obviously super fresh, I missed some the dishes I've read raves about, such as Nancy's scallops and the wild salmon- two of my faves in general. I think next time I'd like to go back and try a la carte, so I can get more of the fantastic items- though I know I'll struggle with deciding what to order- which I didn't have to do this time.

          I'd concur that this is one of the best and most interesting, innovative restaurants in the city, if not the country right now. Though Marcel on Top Chef irked me with his constant foams and gelees, it's obviously something worth exploring in cuisine right now, so I can't completely fault him! Until recently LA lacked restaurants that take risks with preparation and flavor, and I'm thrilled to see that's changing. This is definitely one to remember and go back to, and I can check it off my list of places to try in 2007!

          I had a perfect 30th birthday.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Quesera

            Wow!!! Great report, thanks! It's definitely on my list.

            1. re: Quesera

              OMG! your dinner sounded fantastic!

              1. re: Quesera

                I love the passion fruit gelee w/coconut soymilk dessert

              2. I am truly sorry for your dietary restrictions because I fear it kept you from fully partaking in the desert courses at Providence.
                Like you, I prefer savory over sweet dishes. Providence is the exception to the rule.
                Adrien Vasquez is really a genius (not a word I use loosely) and combines the art and science of his trade in a magical sort of way.
                Whenever I dine at Providence, no matter how full I may be by the time his courses arrive, I just can't bear not to try his handiwork.
                To my mind, his creativity is unmatched in L.A. and perhaps beyond.