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Jan 21, 2008 08:21 AM

Fraiche, Providence & Foundry-- Must order?

My parents are coming in to town to celebrate my mom's birthday and we've got reservations at Fraiche, Providence and the Foundry while they're here. Any must order items? We've got some very adventurous eaters, so anything is a possibility.


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  1. I was just there last night. Love the bacon risotto and pappardelle with sweetbreads. I went with a group of friends a month ago and we ordered half the menu, including I think all the pastas, and those were the ones that stood out.

    Report from our earlier trip, although menu has changed:

    1. Fraiche: any pasta, any specialty cocktail. Providence: I've *only* had the 9 course tm, and wasn't exactly blown away, but they do an absolutely incredible job on wine pairings. Haven't been to Foundry.

      2 Replies
      1. re: slacker

        The short rib ravioli at Fraiche was delicious as was the farro salad.

        1. re: slacker

          Hmnn... I hope the 9 course TM is on the list of possibilities. Either way, though, you have got to love parental visits! (Particularly if you are a starving gastronomically inclined graduate student). The pastas and raviolis are a definite hit at Friache.
          thanks for the advice!

        2. All are good but if $ isn't an issue reserve the Chef's table at Providence and do the CHEFS Tasting Menu($169-ea) which is a lot more interesting than the Nine Course ($100-).

          1 Reply
          1. re: russkar

            I've had the tasting menu at The Foundry. The loup de mer was fantastic. Arrive with a big appetite!

          2. Update:
            First, we did not end up going to Providence. My mom is seriously allergic to mustard, which we told them when we booked. They made it sound at first like it would not be a problem, but two days before we were supposed to arrive they sent us a liability waiver that they wanted us to sign. The waiver basically said that they could not guarantee to keep her food away from mustard, which of course made us very uncomfortable and we had to cancel. It's not that she's a picky ' I don't eat white carbs' kind of eater; mustard could actually kill her. No food in the world could possibly be worth spending the night in the hospital. Has anyone else ever had that experience before? We've never been someplace that was not willing to try to accommodate or which gave us the sense that they could not control their kitchen. Very weird. I would never go there now.

            On the other hand, our last night of tasting menu at the Foundry was wonderful and entirely responsive to her needs. Chef Greenspan came by our table several times to tell my mom if there was anything she could not eat or explain the ingredients when he subbed in a different dish. The Foie Gras course was OUTSTANDING, the best I have ever had. It was paired with a soft bread and cheese (which I wouldn't have expected for something fatty, but it worked perfectly). The texture was amazing. Overall, the meal was wonderful, the service was attentive, the setting was beautiful, and we were quite pleased. At $75 for a 5 course tasting menu, wine pairings at either $25 or $40, it was also a good value.

            We also thoroughly enjoyed Fraiche, particularly the pasta courses. The short rib ravioli was everyone's favorite, although the lamb rigatoni was also delicious. I was pretty disappointed in the fish dishes, however, especially the monkfish which our server highly recommended. The texture was weird and unappealing and the sauce and vegetables were pretty bland. The lamb entree was delicious, however, quite tender and flavorful.

            Grace was our replacement for Providence. It's an old favorite of mine, but I was a little underwhelmed this time. The pork shank was way too smoky and the rapini that came with it were chewy and flavorless. The winner of the night was the Pork Belly appetizer. Everything else (the scallops, the beet salad) was fine but not outrageous.

            In sum, I would not recommend Providence to anyone who has allergy concerns, and would recommend the Foundry tasting menu to everyone. Thanks to everyone who responded!!

            11 Replies
            1. re: danikm

              We've dined with several people with Allergies many times at Providence and never had any problem. I can't imagine replacing Providence with Grace?
              No kitchen in LA or anywhere can guarantee that there food won't come in contact with mustard if it's used in their kitchen. Providence is one of the best restaurants in LA. Foundry & Fraiche aren't in the running even in the top 10, but good just the same.

              1. re: russkar

                Actually, I think that a restaurant could guarantee not to use mustard or otherwise have contact come in contact with her food. It doesn't take that much to ask chefs to change utensils if they are preparing something with mustard. I certainly haven't gotten that response at other "top" restaurants with tasting menus (per se, auberge, french laundry...). Who on earth signs a liability waiver to eat a restaurant??? What restaurant has the nerve to email it to you two days before you are supposed to dine there?

                We wouldn't have chosen Grace as the replacement had other options been over, but finding out on Wednesday night that we had to change a Friday night 8pm reservation made the choices in the high end sort of limited.

                1. re: danikm

                  Apparently Providence was concerned about possible unintentional cross contamination and your Mom's health, not a bad thing?.

                2. re: russkar

                  I think the idea of sending out a waiver is totally outrageous. Allergy suffers need to be respected. I will never go to Providence again.

                  1. re: friedegg67

                    I have nut and shellfish alleriges, and have never had a problem at Providence. maybe the waiver is a new policy? In this litigious age, I don't blame them.

                    Mustard powder can fly around in the kitchen, and to clean every time over and over, all surfaces and such could present problems...

                3. re: danikm

                  I find the idea that they would make her sign a liability waiver stunning. My close friend is allergic to soy and he has never been asked to accommodate a kitchen with such a waiver. It's their job to know what is going into the food on your plate. Given the price tag, I think the job is on them to get the food done right.

                  1. re: danikm

                    Hi, I actually spoke with your father about the allergies listed on the Open Table reservation. There were several allergies listed (not only mustard), and your father said that the most life threatening was to corn and all corn by products. He said anything such as cornstarch or corn syrup could be potentially life threatening and any miniscule amount could be dangerous.

                    While we at Providence can make every effort (switching utensils, washing hands, using separate cutting boards) to not contaminate the food with these products, we cannot guarantee 100% that some small particle will not in any way come into contact with her food, either in the kitchen or in the dining room from adjacent tables.

                    We at Providence accommodate many allergies on a daily basis, but such a severe allergy to corn and any biproducts makes us very aware and cautious. Corn starch and corn syrup are found in many different forms, and under different names in many, many products.

                    If the allergy had just been to mustard, we never would have asked for a form to be signed. But there was a list of at least four different allergies, one of which (corn) is so far reaching that we thought it better not to risk, both for your mother and for us.

                    We do not want to discourage anyone with allergies from dining with us. We also do not want to place any of our patrons in danger if we do not feel we can accommodate them 100% guaranteed.

                    1. re: johnvp

                      I would love to read a response from danikm to the above. If indeed your dad listed such a wide variety of allergies, I don't know of any conscientious restaurant that would not have some misgivings. Disclosure: I fully cop to being a huge fan of Providence and all they are doing to shake up the LA dining scene, get irritated when folks complain about a place w/o telling us the whole story, and am very glad the restaurant has responded to the incident. Look forward to seeing a response of the poster.

                      1. re: bhadams

                        Me too. Corn by-products are in so many foods these days, you can never be too careful. I am sure Michael and his team would take many, many precautions and much care to ensure the safety of the food for this patron.

                        1. re: bhadams

                          Sorry for the delay in my response. I am writing my dissertation at the moment, so time to read chowhound is a rare luxury.

                          John, after reading your message I took the time to call my father and get his understanding of the call. It appears that there were some misunderstandings, which I do not attribute completely to you, given my lifelong history of trying to communicate with him myself.

                          First, her deathly allergy is not to corn, it is to mustard. As she says "if it comes with mustard, I hope it comes with an ambulance on the side." Corn for her is an intolerance, like some people are intolerant to milk. She certainly wouldn't eat corn or it's direct byproducts (polenta, etc), but traces of corn starch and the like certainly won't kill her. It upsets her stomach, but she survives, which is a good thing or eating would be a life-threatening activity in this country. In fact, if that were the case, I doubt that she would ever be able to eat out. Perhaps he miscommunicated that, who knows? However, I should note that she did not experience an upset stomach at all during her visit here (and rarely does now that she knows about that intolerance) which suggests to me that the other restaurants we visited were able to be responsive to her requests. I should note that she eats out several times a week so that tempers the argument that responding to her mustard allergy and corn intolerance is too much to ask. It is quite unreasonable at less high-grade restaurants where packaged sauces or other purchased ingredients are likely to contain high levels of high fructose corn syrup, but she manages to stay well by eating at high quality restaurants that use fresh, handmade ingredients as the bases for their food. I'm not sure what other allergies you could be referring to in your post above, although I know that she does not eat chestnuts. I've never heard her mention that at a restaurant, however, so I don't really know.

                          Secondly, I am quite confused as to why it was not made clear in the discussion with him that her request would not be accommodated and that we would be asked to sign a wavier. It was certainly a shock to him and to us, and it seems that it would have been more honest to say so up front. Doing so would have left us ample time to explore other options rather than scrambling for last minute reservations for such an important occasion. Again, perhaps you thought you made that clear to him and he was a little too thick to get it (a definite possibility with my dad), but his reaction was one of genuine shock.

                          Finally, sending a liability wavier just left a bad taste in my mouth about the attitude and tone with which the restaurant approaches clients. This, I am sure, is a matter of personal preference rather than right or wrong, but it just didn't sit well with me that the primary concern seemed to be on making sure no one would sue the restaurant rather than finding a way to work around potential roadblocks. I suppose it made me feel that you presume we are awaiting an opportunity to be litigious, when the reality is quite the opposite. Even when my mother has been sent to the hospital by "just a little bit" of mustard, she has never wanted to press charges or hold anyone responsible. In fact, the last time this happened, which was nearly 10 years ago now, she sent a check to the restaurant the following week when she realized that she had been in such a hurry to get to the hospital that she forgot to pay the check!

                          Now certainly I appreciate your candor in saying that you cannot protect her from foods to which she might be allergic in your establishment (although I find it odd considering no other restaurant has ever said that to her and we had a wonderful experience at all of the restaurants we did attend during her visit), but I do believe that there would have been a more appropriate way to convey that. Telling us with enough lead time to get another reservation strikes me as the most important way that the transaction could have been improved and finding a way that didn't implicate that my family is somehow seen as a liability rather than a bunch of nice people wanting a nice meal to celebrate together would have also been appreciated.