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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