5955 melrose ave
LA, CA 90038
some restaurant reviews are just so pleasurable to write b/c you get to relive the whole experience. one such example was my dinner at providence in L.A. last week. i had heard of this restaurant before but after so many houston chowhounds declared their undying devotion to chef michael cimarusti, the place shot up to the top of my L.A. restaurants to check out. this modern seafood restaurant was also awarded a michelin star last november.
entrance to providence.
amuse bouche. gin and tonic gelee topped with lime powder, mojito raviolo, and chilled fennel soup with warm saffron syrup. each taste inspired large smiles at the table. the mojito raviolo was the most fun as it burst and released a mouthful of cold and delicious mojito. i am one to always appreciate a little free booze thrown my way too.
first course. japanese kanpachi w/ red shiso granité, olive oil, cucumber blossom, and salted plum sauce. the kanpachi was extremely velvety and the fish really shined through despite all the other ingredients on the plate. the granité kept the fish cold and when it melted, it mixed nicely with the plum sauce garnish at the bottom of the plate providing a less viscous sauce and more subtle salted plum flavors to dip the raw fish into.
second course. bobby's block island sea scallops w/ chanterelles, chayote greens, pistachios, and aged balsamic vinegar. i love the flavor of white pepper and enjoyed it in this dish. it accentuated the earthiness of the mushrooms and pistachios. the chayote greens, which i have never had before, were delicious. the balsamic added just the right amount of acid to brighten the dish. EXCELLENT!
third course. british columbia wild halibut with crispy burdock, red shiso leaves, sake butter sauce and sake espuma. if chef cimarusti is still doing foams, i guess we aren't getting away from them any time soon. this course was my favorite of the evening. the fish still looked a bit translucent, yet the texture of the fish was too flakey to still be raw. it was pure silk on my tongue and melted in my mouth. the sake butter sauce was delicate and yet still decadent. the pungent shiso punctuated several bites that it was included in. this is hands down the best cooked fish dish i've had. i was literally dancing in my chair by the time i finished the plate.
fourth course. veal tenderloin w/ king oyster mushrooms, tomato confit, spring onions, and brentwood sweet corn puree. the veal was so tender i could cut it with a fork. the mushrooms were steaky and as such worked well with the onions and red meat. the corn puree was surprisingly naturally sweet and added beautiful color to the plate. the dish was very good. the texture of the veal was very memorable.
fifth course. passionfruit curd topped with "scorched" meringue. carrot cake with cashew streusel. the dish was too weird for me. the "carrot stick" was a stick of white cake soaked in carrot and ginger puree. it tasted too much like bitter carrot concentrate for me to like it. the passionfruit curd was too sour for my palate although my dinner companion enjoyed it.
chef michael cimarusti stopped by the table when we were done after a bit of chatting and Q&A, i found out that both the halibut and veal were cooked in a CVap to get them so tender. CVap or controlled vapor technology, which was first invented to keep kentucky fried chicken fresh, is a controlled humidity oven that uses moist heat to cook at extremely low temperatures. the theory is similar to a sous-vide (or immersion circulator) but without all the fuss of air-tight bags and water baths.
everything about the evening was special beginning with the drink at the bar while watching the bartender squeeze fresh citrus and cut elaborate garnishes for drinks, to having the host fit us in b/c my reservation was somehow lost, to the somm finding us a couple bottles of nigori or unfiltered sake that he happened to have in the cooler that wasn't on the wine list, and ending with our dialogue with the chef. the restaurant had a modern yet warm, casual appeal and service in the dining room was attentive and professional. the five course tasting menu took over 2 hours and really seemed to drag on. i'd love to come back to do the full 12 course tasting menu another time or even the iron chef menu that cimarusti beat morimoto with just days ago. finally a place that lives up to all the hype!
i didn't know it when i left providence, but in the morning i would be eating more cimarusti's food for breakfast. more details on that breakfast to come, but until then, i'll leave you with a snippet of the iron chef america episode for your enjoyment.