25 August 2009


I recently made a broad, sweeping generalization about East coast eating vs. West coast eating, on the basis of several years of living on the East coast, and 1 year living in San Diego. Basically, I lamented the lack of decent up-scale dining options on the West Coast. I'd like to take it all back. Or at least most of it. There is fabulous dining to be had on the West Coast - in Los Angeles. I still haven't had truly world class food in San Diego, but we had a crazy good meal at Providence in L.A. We were concerned that the food in Los Angeles would be all about the "scene", and not about the food. And perhaps many are. But we succeeded in finding fabulous food at Providence.

I'm still not that guy who takes food in restaurants. I tried once, and I just couldn't do it (and I still don't have a decent phone camera). So I rely on others' photos. Fortunately, JTSO23 at Flickr took pictures of the dinner (very similar dinner!) and graciously allowed me to use the photos.

I started off with a cocktail, the Dark 'n' Stormy. Fizzy ginger beer mixed with Gosling's dark rum (has to be Gosling's, read the link). It was nice, gingery and sweet, but they didn't let me finish it before they brought us the amuse-bouche. This was my main complaint there - they were in too much of a rush. I wanted this meal to take us three hours, they cleared us out of there in two.

We went for the five course tasting menu with matching wines. It was delicious. First up, an amuse-bouche.

This is a trio of interesting dishes. From left to right, it's a gin and tonic cube, a mojito ravioli and a cold carrot soup. The gin and tonic cube wasn't notable, but the mojito ravioli was *great*. It's gelatinized using alginate, so there's a thing skin of solid material around a liquid. You place it in your mouth, and when it breaks you get a splash of liquid mojito. Really fun, and tasty.

The carrot soup was also yummish, with cream and curry flavours. Really fun.

The first course was raw kanpachi with crispy rice crackers, flowering coriander, endive sous vide, soy crème fraiche. This is a dish where the crunchy rice cracker counterpoint to the fish was really nice. The coriander added a bright flavour, and this was really fun to eat. The matching wine was Txakoli, Txomin Etxaniz 2008.

Second course was hokkaido sea scallops (japan), chanterelles, haricot vert, applewood smoked bacon, jurançon sec.

One of my wife's favourite things is scallops, and this scallop was perfect. The sauce around it was particularly nice, and made a nice mild accent to the scallop. The matching wine: Riesling Spätlese, “Alte Reben” Kaseler Nies’Chen, Erben von Beulwitz 2007.

Third course was wild day-boat pacific halibut with burdock, shiso and lemon.

The halibut was like butter. Just fantastic. We asked the server how it was prepared, and he said it was cooked in a "vapor oven". After much prodding, it turns out it was cooked sous-vide, but I think he didn't want to take the time to explain what that meant (as it happens, we knew what it meant). The burdock root was delicious and crunchy, adding a fun textural component to the dish. The matchine wine: Bourgogne Blanc, François Mikulski 2006.

The final course before dessert was veal tenderloin with crushed butterball potatoes, spring onions, hazelnuts, spring garlic confit. Also cooked sous-vide this was deliciously prepared. I was prepared for this to be my favourite course of the evening. It was perfectly cooked, and melted in my mouth. I'm salivating, just typing this.

Look at that veal! Delicious. Matching wine: Sean Thackery, Pleiades XVII.

I confess, I was prepared to be bored by the dessert in this tasting menu. It was miso cheesecake. I'm not a huge cheesecake fan. It's often heavy, and too sweet. Cheesecake done well can be quite good, but it's a little boring, and I was hoping to be excited by the food at Providence.

Well, they didn't let me down. Miso cheesecake with assorted stone fruit, black sesame, white peach sorbet was incredible.

The "cheesecake" was more of a flan, really. And it blended perfectly with the miso sauce and raspberry splatter on the plate. And the sesame cracker underneath added a really nice, mild touch to the dinner. This dessert alone was worth the price of entry. And I had expected it to be my least favourite. Matching wine: Jurançon, “Clos Uroulat” Charles Hours 2007.

All throughout the meal, they matched the wines perfectly. They would bring us a glass a few minutes before the course, and we would sip it and comment, "Mmmmm... this is nice." Upon delivery of the matching course, we would comment, "Holy deliciousness of crazy yummy wine!". The wine matching was really extraordinary.

All in all, we had a fantastic time at Providence, and would go back again. Next time I would try to get a later seating so that we don't have the waiters bringing us our courses so quickly to get us out the door. But beyond that complaint, the dinner was excellent.

Again, a big thanks to JTSO23 for allowing use of the photos.

1 comment:

* said...

Miso cheesecake=absolutely perfect

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