My wife and I visited Providence to celebrate our wedding anniversary on Sat. night and were profoundly disappointed by the service which was rude, incompetent and disorganized.
This was our second visit to Providence, the first time being in December when my wife was pregnant. Our first visit was wonderful, and there simply weren't the superlatives to describe it. Sat. night's experience could not have been more different. It was jarringly bad.
I have a shell fish allergy, and the first time we visited Providence last December, had asked if they could accommodate that allergy with a chef's menu, and graciously was told that they would work around any dietary restriction, including vegetarians. [This made a lot of sense given the reputation of the kitchen and its location near Paramount]. We called ahead the day before to notify them of my allergy.
When we were seated, my wife reminded our waiter of my allergy (a gentleman with a shaved head that we were later told was Matthew) haughtily assured us that he was aware of my allergy.
When we inquired about the chef's menu he told us that they likely could NOT accomodate my allergy, but he would check with the chef. We explained that we had been told otherwise previously, that we called ahead the day before, and that we had come specifically for a chef's menu experience.
When he returned to the table, he simply asked us if we had decided what to order, and when we asked him again about the chef's menu, he said that they could not accommodate us. He did not apologize and offered no work arounds, such as allowing my wife who does not have such an allergy to have the chef's menu (which would be a departure from the house rules). We ordered a la carte, and he then abandonned our table until the very end of the evening
After a wonderful amuse bouche (including an incredible mojito gelee), a second (!?) amuse bouche arrived. Since it was (a) a second amuse bouche and (b) had two items that were obviously shellfish (an oyster and some uni-looking thing), I told the new server that there must be a mistake. Rather than ask why I thought so, he condescendly explained it was an amuse. We then re-re-re explained about the allergy, and the second amuse was withdrawn and replaced with a snapper amuse.
Later in the evening, we heard our original waiter's voice a couple tables down discussing the amuse mix-up at our table with the couple dining at the OTHER table, loud enough for me to hear him boasting how flexible Providence is.
During the cheese course, the waiter (again not our original waiter) noted that after we rejected a walnut leaf wrapped cheese, that my wife commented on my slight walnut allergy. He then told us a long story about how another restaurant sent his date to the emegency room because of walnuts and told us that the bread that he gave us was walnut bread, and volunteered that he would be back with other bread. He never returned.
No one ever apologized for the chef's menu fiasco, our waiter preferred to abandonn the table, and the maitre'd never reappeared. Oh, and the only real recognition of our anniversary was a dime store birthday candle thrown on the dessert at the end of the day.
Now, I am not a stickler for service. There were other aspects that would reflect poorly on Providence that would not have cratered the dining experience. For example, no one inquired about whether we wanted wine with our cheese or any drink other than coffee with the dessert. Or for another example, my wife had to send her wine glass back. The waiter who brought the cheese tray made some wonderful recommendations, but also could not describe a couple of the cheeses. My wife asked where one of the cheeses was from, and he said he didn't know but it was from where all the cheeses of that type were.
Admittedly, we had high expectations. Our evening at Providence was meant not just as a celebration. It was my anniversary present to my wife. We've never been treated that poorly from ANY restaurant before. I couldn't believe that we treated that way at Providence.
We are at a loss to explain how this all occured. It took many people screwing up across several days to do this. It also took arrogance and a basic disregard for our experience.
Some of the food was wonderful. My wife loved the prawns. My foie gras ravioli was fantastic. The mojito amuse was amazing. The dessert (a milk chocolate whisky panna cotta) was terrific. My entree - the foie gras stuffed turbot -- sounded specatacular but was lackluster, and my wife's lobster risotto was good but the risotto itself was not as good as that we prepare at home. The wine pairings were acceptable -- they didn't clash -- but neither enhanced the food nor did the food enhance the wine.
Needless to say, we won't be back.