Last night, the lady and I experienced the single most creative, delicious, mind-blowing meal we have ever had. A year ago, my lady would never have opted to head for a "primarily seafood" special occasion dinner as she barely enjoyed a simple piece of fish. However, over the last year, scouring the food boards, blogs and reviews we came to understand that the Providence chef's menu is clearly one of the most highly regarded "special occasion" dining events in Los Angeles. So, enough introduction. Best meal of our lives, hands down. A formal breakdown follows:
1st: Oyster w/ Seaweed Gelee ...with heavy citrus (lime?) accent
2nd: Santa Barbara spot prawn tartare covered with yellow beet gelee, accompanied by lime foam and red beet ....**a highlight
3rd: Abalone with Abalone mushrooms (from China) and thinly sliced cucumbers, prepared like noodles, served atop an abalone shell placed on a bed of red salt ...this tasted incredibly buttery, sea salty and the abalone mushrooms really DO taste like abalone
4th: Kanpachi rolled around a soy gelee with yuzu foam, shiso leaf and cucumber ...absolutely refreshing (and the lady has a "thing" for kanpachi/shiso/yuzu combos - we didn't think Spago's sashimi dish w/ the same flavors could be beat...but it was)
5th: Snow crab topped with caviar (can't remember much else but it should be noted that we chose to do the wine pairing with the meal so by this point, things were becoming an elated, tipsy blur)
6th: Foie gras ball with pink pepperberry foam, foie gras powder (!!!) and cherry powder ...not that any dish here was even less than good but this was the weakest to our taste
7th: Uni sabayon - a single brown eggshell, inside of which was uni, champagne and vermouth, egg yolk foam and black truffle with shaved black truffles on the top ...words don't do justice to this crazy, savory little dish **highlight
8th: Maine lobster with beet agar-agar (jelly) and topped with caviar ...I thought the caviar *made* the dish
9th: Nancy Hill's Diver Scallops w/ Big Island heart of palm, pistachio and spinach chiffonade. ok, we don't know much about this Nancy Hill but we DO know that these scallops were mother-effing out of this world. THANK YOU NANCY **highlight
10th: Niman Ranch pork belly with cinnamon-soaked quince, salsify, oyster plant, ashmead apple and Australian pepperberry **highlight
11th: John Dory with flowering broccoli, carrot vavdouvan and Weiser Farm purple haze carrot
12th: Chitarra pasta with *last of the season* white Alba truffles, freshly shaved at the table ...Oh my god, this beat out any other white truffle, the pasta was so perfectly chewy and buttery and the truffles wonderfully aromatic - a true highlight of the meal)
13th: 28-day, wet-aged, Prime New York steak from Nebraska (served in a 1"x 5" rectangular strip) with sweet onion and bone marrow on brioche
14th: 4 cheese plate (total blur) (very drunk)
15th: white chocolate lollipops filled with rooibos/cardamom blood orange liquid ...wow
16th: Kalamansi soda poured over a bowl filled with vanilla ice cream and mango gelee ...YES!!
17th: Frozen banana capsule filled with some caramel-like substance topped with cinnamon caviar
18th: Chocolate cremaux, toasted marshmallow, graham cracker something or other (ok, we are now recapping this dessert based on the written breakdown our server gave us. in all humiliating honesty, we were both quite intoxicated after our 15th serving of wine)
...and of course, the homemade petit-fours (which, a day later, are still sitting in a box in our kitchen as we haven't quite recovered)
After 18 dishes, hundreds of flavors, 17(?) servings of wine, 4 and a half HOURS and 3 months salary, we were the last ones in the restaurant and got a mini-tour of the wine cellar and kitchen.
We haven't done Spago's Tasting menu but we have had a 17(?) course tasting menu at L'Auberge in Carmel that until this point we thought couldn't be surpassed. At Providence, each dish in the Chef's menu was artfully, delicately prepared by a true master (Michael Cimarusti), the service was impeccable and the sommelier's wine pairings quite impressive. Providence served us the best meal we've ever had.