I picked Providence for a birthday meal with my family and it was a huge let down and I would never go back.
We went on a Sunday night a couple of weeks ago. When I made the reservation I mentioned that I had looked at their menu online and that the entrees looked great but that my family doesn't eat shellfish, could they come up with an appetizer that didnt involve shellfish and I was told no problem that it would be noted.
Our waitress looked like a deer caught in the headlights when I mentioned that none of us ate shellfish so we wouldn't be ordering the tasting menu and could she talk to the kitchen to see if they could make a non-shellfish app? She pointed out the foie apps, one of which I ordered, but my folks don't eat foie either and she seemed annoyed and confused about what to do. She eventually spoke to someone in the kitchen who offered to make the kanpachi sashimi app without the sea urchin. It was fine but the dish was only ordinary as it was missing an essential flavor component.
The waitress also acted very put out that we did not order both hot and cold appetizers. That was more food than we wanted and there wasn't anything that we could eat anyway...
We ordered the snapper, striped bass and the tuna entrees and all were very good, although the tuna was kind of ordinary we all agreed. The bass was the winner of the night.
I ordered the strange soda + donut dessert option - which I thought was rather wierd. The donut was like a churro and was good but didnt go well with the odd-tasting and textured soda. We also tried a chocolate dessert that was fine.
I will say that our server - the person who brought food and silverware to the table (NOT our waitress)- was excellent but he could not make up for the sour attitude of our waitress and the lack of follow through of my request for a non-shellfish app after asking for something not on the menu a week in advance.
Also, when I made the reservation, I was asked whether it was a special occasion. I said yes it was my 30th birthday. The maitre'd asked which one of us was me before we were shown to our table. Several other tables were celebrating birthdays and we could hear bday song or see a candle on a dessert. dont bother asking me if it is an occasion if you arent going to do anything special about it.
I picked Providence as I had heard that it was one of the best restaurants to open in LA in the past couple of years and aspired to be one of the best restaurants in the city. It is not in my neighborhood but I picked it as a destination restaurant. My mistake.
I have had other excellent "destination" meals recently, most notably at Spago in BH and at Jean Georges in NYC and Providence wasn't in the same ball park service wise or food wise. If what was on our plates had been amazing I might have been willing ot overlook bad service as the price of tasting such wonderful dishes but there was no reward just a large bill.
I know other posters have mentioned that Providence only fires on all cylinders with the tasting menu - I don't know if that is the case but I can't imagine ever going back under any circumstance.