Quite the veritable thrill to be visiting Los Angeles for the first time, and I was keen to suss out the restaurant scene that seems to be laden with celebrity chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Nancy Silverton, Ludo Lefebvre, just to name a few. LA was previously covered by the Michelin guide, but things didn’t seem to work out and the guide eventually withdrew from the city. Perhaps the city isn’t quite suited to the white tablecloths and French fine dining ideals that Michelin extols, although the winds seem to be changing albeit towards a different extreme e.g. chicken rice stalls and dim sum shops. Oddly enough, I ended up dining at a proper, white table-clothed dining establishment located along Melrose avenue. The restaurant Providence is helmed by Michael Cimarusti, a celebrated chef in the LA dining scene and quite the champion for sustainable fishing and ingredient sourcing.
Traffic was horrendous as usual in LA and my friend was stuck in the crawl, thus I had decided for some cocktails by the bar. I must say the drinks were expertly prepared and well worth a tipple.
Once my friend had arrived and settled in, we proceeded for dinner and started with an array of nibbles. Most were very good bites, but my favourite had to be the magnificent Wagyu “cigar” and Ume plum sauce. The smokiness was present but not overwhelmingly so, and the minced beef was smooth and luxurious. The Ume sauce provided a nice salty and sweet hit that was well balanced. A stunning bit of cookery here.
The first course was a Bonito sashimi with pomegranate, ruby red grapefruit and ume. The freshness of the sashimi truly shined in this dish, and paired well with the acidity from the grapefruit. Each component was clearly evident and were very good.
Next, I had ordered the optional dish of Sea urchin with egg and croutons on top, which was very warm and comforting. Surely, one can do no wrong with sea urchin and a perfectly cooked egg.
Moving on, was Nancy Day’s boat sea scallop with buckwheat, parsnip and pepitas. The scallop was perfectly cooked and nicely caramelized, whilst the Pepitas i.e. pumpkin seeds provided a nice crunch and textural contrast.
For my main, I had the striped bass with winter vegetables and truffle bouillon. The fish had a brilliant texture and on the verge of being slightly undercooked, which is very hard balance to achieve with cooking fish. The vegetables and truffle bouillon grounded the dish with some earthiness, which was delicious and did not overpower the fish.
As good as the fish was, my friend ordered the A5 Wagyu beef with Tahitian squash terrine which was truly magnificent. I believe the meat was from the Miyazaki region in Japan, and the quality certainly shows as it was immensely luscious with the right amount of marbling. The squash terrine was also smooth and added a nice sweetness to the dish. It’s also interesting to note that a good Wagyu beef appears strikingly similar to that of Tuna belly, and both are also amazingly delicious.
We concluded the meal with an expertly prepared and visually attractive dessert, which was dubbed as a “Fallen branch”. The branch was made from Illanka 63% chocolate, which was rich and decadent. This was paired with parsnip “wood chips” that provided some woody sweetness and textural contrast. There was also Champagne Anglaise ice cream on the side, which I recall was quite decent.
And some bon bons.
Providence prides itself as a modern American seafood restaurant, and the fish and scallop dishes were certainly top quality and were with treated with the proper reverence. The chef also proved himself adept at handing meat and knocking the dish out of the park. Generally, all the courses were well balanced and delicious, while the obvious highlights were the Wagyu cigars, striped bass and the spectacular A5 Wagyu beef with squash terrine. Some truly memorable courses that would hold its own versus Michelin starred restaurants, and I would certainly return here whenever I’m back in the city.