Saturday night we took a very special guest to Providence to celebrate her birthday. Although our meal was very good, it was overall disappointing, and not what I would expect from a Michelin 2 star restaurant with the reputation and high prices that mark this restaurant.
We arrived at 6:15pm for our 6:30 reservation. Our party of 3 was seated in the main dining room at a table that was wedged between the wall and a larger table of ~8 guests. The dining room was very packed, somewhat noisy with servers rapidly moving to and fro and certainly not the setting for a special dinner. Indeed, when I needed to leave the table mid-dinner, it was pretty much impossible to extricate myself without nudging diners at the adjacent table.
We ordered cocktails shortly after being seated. About 10 or 15 minutes later our server apologized for the delay in serving them, saying that they would be "up" within a few minutes because the bar was "backed up". When the drinks were served, one of us wanted a side of ice for his martini. This was served rather promptly, but without an accompanying spoon or tongs. This might be fine for a lesser restaurant, but it is not what I think should be the norm at a place such as Providence.
Being that our guest wanted to order a la carte, we all needed to do so. Because beautiful white truffles were in season, we decided to start shared portions of pasta with truffles. This was delicious, as it should be at $130 per full portion. But...it wasn't perfect. The noodles were dressed with a very rich cream sauce over which generous shavings of truffle were placed. Although really quite special, the rich cream sauce was in our opinion superfluous. The noodles moistened with a beautiful olive oil and with truffles on top would have been far better. Sometimes simpler is better.
Our starters were very good...crab and fois gras.
Although others enjoyed their main courses, I ordered the sea bass which although very good was still disappointing. It was served lukewarm, and was barely cooked. I love sushi, but somehow warm and very undercooked fish seemed unappealing. After dinner, I questioned our excellent server about the preparation of the fish and he explained that the restaurant served most of their fish lukewarm, rather than hot. My fish in particular had been "cooked" in a warm 120 degree oven for about 20 minutes. This was the "normal" cooking for sea bass at Providence. I wished that I had been told about this in advance because although I'll eat pretty much anything...lukewarm, very undercooked, almost raw, fish was not that appealing to me. Another guest at the table ordered their John Dory "cooked through" and was very happy.
Having eaten our fill of food and excellent bread, we all chose different sorbets and ice cream for dessert. Each was remarkable...the best we've ever had.
Overall (aside from cocktails) our service was excellent...very professional yet very warm and gracious. The wine service was likewise excellent.
Everything was indeed very very good...but neither the dining room ambiance nor some of the food were as special as we had expected.
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