The birthday celebrations this year are still ongoing, the latest being Michael Cimarusti’s Providence on Melrose Avenue. We have been wanting to check out lunch at Providence — the restaurant is only open for lunch on Fridays — for quite some time, and my birthday was the perfect excuse.
The menu comprises a la carte as well as two tasting menus — five or seven courses — but we didn’t want to commit to two tasting menus which presented the same dishes to the both of us. We therefore opted to order a la carte (we declined to have our plates split) and play it by ear.
Of course, fine dining means you’re getting a lot more courses than what you order starting with the first amuse bouche — yes you heard right… the FIRST amuse bouche — “Pisco Sour” as it is introduced. We pop the entire thing into our mouths as it explodes with bursts of passion fruit, yuzu and basil seeds.
Our second amuse is a Hokkaido Scallop “Taco” with a mixture of chopped scallops, sushi rice on a nasturtium leaf. I thoroughly enjoyed this highly aromatic mouthful which leaves a lingering fragrance on my tongue wafting into my olfactory senses.
Our third amuse is presented as a duo. The first is a cracker of nori focaccia – the bread is made with mussel broth – topped with chopped mussels and sorel. We are told the focaccia is created specifically for this item, and only this course.
It is accompanied by a shooter of luscious, umami-filled mussel cream foam which tantalizes our palates leaving us wanting more. It is one of our favorite courses of the meal.
A bread tray arrives next and it requires extreme willpower not to nod when the tray returns the second time around.
Our first course is Fluke Sashimi ($22) dotted with winter citrus including pomelo, satsuma, grapefruit and finger lime. We see little slivers of citrus dotting the plate, but it is undetectable on the palate. I am waiting for the popping sensation from the finger limes, but alas there is none.
My friend and I are uni fiends and wanted specifically to try the Uni Egg ($20). The egg is beautifully runny on the bottom with a generous amount of sea urchin on top. The champagne beurre blanc and brioche croutons add richness and textural contrast to the egg, however, it is under-seasoned. We added a touch of salt which immediately brought out that distinctive umami of the uni.
Foie Gras ($30) is another dish my friend insists we order. Accompanied by calamansi (fragrant citrus) and cranberry gelee, the calamansi is enhanced even further by bits of calamansi cracker on the plate.
We picked two entrées, the first is Nancy’s Day Boat Sea Scallop ($45) with braised parsnip, pepita puree, and red mustard greens. It is a solid offering with few surprises.
Libery Farms Duck ($40) is definitely a winner, hands down. The duck is at an ideal medium rare with its skin intact and crispy. The contrast of textures, as well as the perfect execution garners it a 100% rating in my book. The accoutrements of kombu (kelp) marinated grilled celery root, chamomile tea poached pear, and celery root puree pair well without overpowering the duck. It is fantastic.
Neither of us have room for dessert but order one anyway just because. Kawa-Ishi ($12) is a ball of white chocolate and black sesame mousse created with kinako, or soybean powder, used widely in Asian desserts. It is a tad too sweet with the white chocolate overpowering the black sesame. In fact, we are looking for more black sesame on the plate, but without much luck.
And as if that wasn’t enough, petit fours of macarons and bonbons arrive at the table.
There is a lot of food, but I had hoped for the meal to have continued in the same mind-blowing manner as the amuse bouche were. The meal was good, with a few “just-okay” selections, but I am glad we finally were able to experience Providence.
5955 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038