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Aug 13, 2007 03:49 AM

Providence chef's table tonight

Was absolutely phenomenal. I feel like the cooking here is more focused, concentrated, original, and perfectly executed than ever. This was the perfect meal after watching Ratatouille. I can't remember everything I ate, I stopped caring about individual courses a few fine dining meals ago. Here's a few of the more memorable ones:

Crab with cucumber, melon gelee, and sesame/korean chili "tuile". This was...incredible. If you're not a fan of the molecular gastronomy stuff then you probably wouldn't appreciate the cooking here. The flavors and textures were intense, balanced, and the wine this was paired with was perfect.

Oyster (looked like kumamoto but I remember them saying something different) with Tabasco "caviar". This was so cool. This is like Disneyland for grownups to me. How on earth they made these little Tabasco flavored pearls have the texture exactly like caviar is beyond me. There's a serious chemistry set in back there.

Foie gras parfait with foie gras and cherry powders, black pepper, nasturnium, beet jelly, beet reduction, and port reduction. Good god, probably the best foie preparation I've ever had. The flavors were really concentrated here.

There was some sort of tartare, yellowtail? I can't remember (the wine pours were generous, and there were a lot of pourings...), wrapped in a thin sheet of fresh heart of palm with pickled heart of palm and wasabi creme fraiche and american sturgeon caviar. Wow, the textures and flavors of this were just sublime, and the wine pairing was incredible.

Braised pork belly with lime espuma and cherries. This was a dish, like the others, where it was all about the sum of the parts. If you ate any particular component by itsself, it was good...but one bit of everything on your fork followed by a sip of the wine and it was this gamut of sub-flavors that was incredible.

It was 15 or so courses of some of the most exciting, original cooking I've had in a long time, probably my entire life. It bums me out that they were relatively slow on a Sunday. The wine pairings were spot on and just as original. If you're looking for something a little more "safe" then stick with their a la carte menu. I can definitely say that there were some themes here. Lots of delicious cold dishes, as we're in the middle of summer. All of the seafood was just sparkling fresh, and light and refreshing to eat. The desserts were much better than my previous visit here. The chocolate course with salt and pepper ice cream and fig compote was mind blowing.

I can't emphasize enough my appreciation for what Mike C. is doing here. I feel like Providence is one of the, if not THE flagship of creative and innovative fine dining in L.A. I hear people constantly mock and make fun of the molecular gastronomy thing but honestly, it's fun to me, and the dishes are grounded in solid French technique. The balance of flavors is clear and well presented. Nothing about the meal was gimicky in the least. Every foam, gelee, tuile, had a textural as well as visual purpose.

After tip, for the chef's tasting with wine pairing for 2 was $600+ or so. A once in a lifetime experience for sure, but this is something that I would (and do) save up for a few times per year.

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  1. Sounds great. We are at the chef's table in 2 weeks. Can't wait.

    1. I'm so jealous! I was there on Friday and did the 9 course tasting at table 7. I've never done a tasting before but I thought I'd start off with the best then work my way down.

      Fooddude, I totally agree that the The Tuna Tartare was incredible. I could have eaten that all day. Since i have a shellfish allergy I also got the pork belly but surrounded by a split pea soup. That was great too.

      Did you get the foie gras ravioli? That was my favorite dish of the night. We did a couple of wines instead of the full on pairings which was great (and cheaper). The service spot on even though we were there for 3 hours, it all went by so fast.

      We also got a mojito raviolo and a gin and tonic gelly. They were interesting but I wish I could have replaced those with more tuna tartare!

      THANKS PROVIDENCE! Next on to do list- chef's tasting at chef's table.

      1. i agree with this 100%. I went a couple of times when the restaurant first opened and while it was very good, sometimes the food seemed a little, uh, busy. too many ingredients, too many techniques. I went again a month or so ago and it was really wonderful to see how Michael C. has matured. the dishes were all perfectly edited and very tightly focused. there were two or three dishes that had that transporting quality of making you look at an ingredient in a different way (the salt-roasted prawns were so simple and so amazingly deeply flavored).

        this is the highest level of this kind of cooking that i can remember in southern california. the down side is that southern california doesn't have a long track record of supporting this kind of cuisine. I hope enough folks get the word and give it a try.

          1. re: lizziee

            About half of our meal was the same as yours. THAT DESSERT!!!

            Some sort of chocoalte cremeaux, fig compote, and salt and pepper ice cream. While every dish was good, some dishes had certain elements that were pure revelations. Salt and pepper ice cream was one of them for me, going with the fig, chocolate, washed down by a banyuls....

          2. I'd be there in a heartbeat if they had ONE! SINGLE! VEGETARIAN! THING! on the menu. Aargh.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nick_r

              maybe it's time you became a pescetarian? =)