The Chef's Table at Providence - Los Angeles, CA

Dinner - Tuesday, September 20, 2011

With San Diego establishments mired in the drudgery of Restaurant Week, we elected to bring our out-of-town guests to Providence to celebrate their wedding anniversary in style. I made reservations for the Chef's Table (a private nook separated from the kitchen by a glass partition), adding to the festive nature of the occasion. Dinner was, as expected, wonderful. I maintain that this is one of, if not the most, polished restaurant in Los Angeles.

*Note* As this blog approaches its first birthday, I realize that it has strayed slightly from its original purpose of being (primarily) a photo-journal. Beginning with this post, I plan to emphasize larger pictures and significantly reduce the amount of boring text - after all, a picture is worth a thousand words (and who really cares what someone else thinks about a dish anyway!). Perhaps this time, I'll actually allow the food to speak for itself.

We enjoyed two great (nay, fantastic) wine steals over dinner - leading off with a Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé from the wine list, and transitioning to a powerful 2008 Two Hands Bella's Garden Shiraz brought by our guests.

Amuse 1 - Mojito, Screwdriver
Amuse 2 - Beau soleil oyster, jalapeno, cilantro, lime
The oyster from New Brunswick was fresh and clean, brinier than many of its North American cousins. Its liquor was supplemented with juice from a sweet cherry tomato, and a lone cilantro blossom added a welcome vegetal note.

Amuse 3 - Binchotan-grilled miso-marinated abalone
Amuse 4 - Binchotan-grilled squid and chorizo
Amuse 5A - Consomme, caprese
Stunning. The tomato water consomme was topped with an herbal fennel foam - superbly balanced. On the side, a caprese bubble - tomato water encapsulating a cube of mozzarella, topped with a leaf of micro basil.

Amuse 5B - "Crackers"
Accompanying the liquids above were a selection of crunchy items. In the left box, salmon skin chips (top) and sesame/soy-seasoned rice crisps (bottom). In the right box, hollow pastry shells filled with egg salad and caviar (top), tomato and mozzarella (middle), and smoked sea trout with ikura (bottom).

Kagoshima kanpachi
Crispy buckwheat, tomato vinaigrette, finger lime, red onion, micro celery
Santa Barbara uni
Corn, cornbread, egg, truffle
Another iteration of Cimarusti's popular egg course. The shell was filled with a softly poached egg yolk at the bottom, followed by a generous dollop of uni. Atop this, sweet corn puree and a crunchy cornbread streusel. Finally, the concoction was crowned with shaved Australian winter truffles (unfortunately, rather lacking in aroma this night).

Santa Barbara spot prawn, charred lamb's leaf
Maldon salt, smoked shrimp head butter-lemon sauce, lemon
Provided as accoutrements to the beautiful spot prawn, the butter sauce was a real treat - smoky, briny, tangy.

Grilled scallop, truffle butter
Red snapper
Butterball potatoes, scallion oil, smoked butter, romesco
Very nice, especially the sharply-flavoured garlic flower perched atop the potatoes. The fish was one of the best preparations of cooked tai I've enjoyed, but I found the pasty romesco at odds with the other components.

Pickled apples, Tahitian squash, sunchoke puree, Pedro Ximenez
King salmon belly
Fig, smoked eggplant, fennel
American wagyu, butterball potatoes
Bone marrow bearnaise, chanterelles, cippolini onions
Again, steak and potatoes finds its way into the modern American tasting menu. This time, the duck fat-roasted potatoes were more charming than usual, and the fried tarragon added a nice emphasis to the delicious bearnaise.

Cheese plate
What's not pictured is the whole box of Époisses that we had on the side, but the unanimous champion tonight was the fantastic raw cow's milk Rogue River Blue from Rogue creamery - complex character and at its peak this evening.

Cucumber-mint frozen yogurt, honeydew soup
Miso cheesecake
Sesame streusel, plum sorbet, blueberries
Since my previous visit, Adrian Vasquez has returned to the Providence pastry kitchen in a part-time capacity. He spends a bit of each month in the city, developing and tweaking desserts. His famous miso cheesecake keeps its place on the menu, its flavour augmented here by a really strong toasted sesame sauce.

Ganache, raspberry, ginger meringue
Graham cracker ice cream and crumble
Mignardises - Chocolate macarons, chocolate-basil marshmallows, lemon basil gelee
Perhaps my opinion is colored by the great company throughout the evening, but I found this meal technically much stronger than our first visit, although the restaurant's signature style remains consistent. A meal to remember, indeed. I wonder what treasures our next visit to Providence will bring - I look forward to it.

5955 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Phone: (323) 460-4170