It’s been 3 years since we visited Providence. Since that time Michelin has issued a new California guide that reinstated the previous rank of Providence as a 2 Michelin star restaurant. Also the restaurant has redone the dining space. The new gray walls are in place of the patterned ones but are still decorated with the white flowers and the ‘netting material’ continues to cover the ceiling. They retained an elegance in the room with a double white table cloth covering the large tables that are moderately spaced. The bench seating is now covered with leather and dark velvet mated on the other side with comfortable chairs. Music plays in the background and service is friendly and very attentive. They offer 3 tasting menus with optional pairings, additional options (oysters, caviar, uni, and spot prawns) and a full bar. We chose the Chef’s tasting menu and ordered our own wines. It was an excellent meal – full of wonderful flavors and textures. This place gets 2 strong thumbs up from me. Pacing started rapidly and then slowed down a bit. Portion control was great.
Our tasting started with a good assortment of amuse bouche, first being a Yellowtail fume with English peas. It was a creamy soup based on a wonderful stock with good pea flavor. The tiny glass container had a wooden base to hold the delicious brew.
The next amuse were a group of 3: soft spring mussel, smoked salmon & eggs and yellowtail in a nasturtium leaf. The mussel was from British Columbia and covered with mussel mayonnaise and herbs. The mussel was tender yet chewy and complimented by a lovely, tasty sauce. A cornmeal cracker was topped with horseradish parfait, smoked salmon, dill mayonnaise and fresh dill. The cracker was surprisingly soft and the combo on top was good. A good sized nasturtium leaf, that was grown in the garden on top of the building, was filled with a combination of masa (cornmeal), Japanese Yellowtail mixed with chipotle, cream fraiche, tempura batter pearls and a little espelette pepper. It was a fun mix of textures and flavors.
A cornmeal tart was filled with avocado and crabmeat seasoned with black garlic and seaweed. The tender crab was lost with all the toppings but the tart shell was thin, crisp and of good flavor. It was to be eaten in one bite, which was very tasty, you just didn’t know it was crab.
A Pacific Gold oyster was decorated with California nasturtium pods (known as poor man’s capers), micro nasturtium leaves and oil from the nasturtium leaves. The oyster flavor came through to yield a nice bite of flavor.
The last amuse was braised wagyu beef in a crisp wrapper. They were a faux cigars, even served in a cigar box. The very crisp wrapper was stuffed with well done beef that was filled with wonderful tastes and textures.
The tasting started with Hiramasa (yellowtail kingfish) with persimmon vinegar, shiso and satsuma. The Hiramasa was sashimi style with Satsuma mandarin, cucumber, charred jalapeño and shiso leaf oil (the dark droplets). The tender fish was really good and went well with all the other ingredients especially the mandarin flavor. This was a great one.
Coleman Farms celtuce was mixed with box crab and osetra caviar. The celtuce was chopped and floating in a beurre blanc seasoned with lemon verbena and crowned with osetra caviar from Bulgaria. Celtuce is a thick stemmed lettuce and tasted like the most tender celery you’ve ever eaten. A great dish.
Bread service was a round loaf of sourdough that is baked fresh daily. It uses a Red Fife grain which is a heritage grain grown locally. It was served with salted butter from Normandy seasoned with Santa Barbara kelp. The bread was served hot and steaming. It was dense and mosit with a lovely doughy interior and a very crackly crust. The butter was okay.
Santa Barbara spot prawns were plated with shady lady tomato and XO. A housemade pasta was wrapped around the prawn that sat next to the tomatoes. A reduction sauce of prawns and white wine was seasoned with ginger. Excellent flavors were abundant in this dish. Some fun textures including chewy dried shrimp and tender pasta. Another great one.
Big Island abalone was served with morel and genmai cha (Japanese brown rice green tea mixed with roasted popped brown rice). The roasted and buttery abalone was from Hawaii. It was topped with the crisped brown rice and chives, seaweed, abalone foam and morels. This was a really tasty dish and filled with texture.
Local Black Cod was plated with artichoke and mint. The artichoke was a purée and the sauce was sprinkled with espelette pepper. The cod was elegant and silky and the sauce delicious. The purée was a little on the tart side for my tastes but who cares with fish this good.
California troll-caught King Salmon was plated with fava bean, asparagus and rhubarb. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of this one, but it had white asparagus, rhubarb and fava beans in a white asparagus and rhubarb broth. If you pulled the skin off the fish it lost the salmon funk that I don’t care for and then it was an interesting mix with the rhubarb broth. The white asparagus were terrific without a hint of bitterness.
A5 Wagyu beef was served with satsuma imo (Japanese sweet potato), kelp and mustard. The beef had been lightly smoked and then grilled to perfection. Beef butter to me, this stuff is amazing and they knew how to do it right. The sweet potato, underneath the meat, was very good too.
Artisanal cheeses with seasonal accompaniments was next. The cart had a nice assortment and your selections were placed on a shared plate. It was not served with bread which was good and bad. Bread is always fun but at this point in the meal you didn’t need any filler and the cheese could be best appreciated with a bit of the apricot jam, guava, dried apricots and nuts that came with the plate. The fruits were nice but overall this would just rate okay in the courses of the evening.
Raspberry was with shiso leaf sorbet, cherry blossom and coconut foam. The coconut was a strong flavor but the raspberry reminded me too much of jello flavors when eaten alone. This one was best when you combined all ingredients.
Blood orange was in a citrus sorbet with sesame. Some sesame cream and caramelized blood orange was below the crisp sweet round of sesame. It was yummy.
“Ban this dessert” was made with Harry’s strawberries and pistachio. It looked like a slice of foie gras but instead was a chocolate and strawberry mousse with a strawberry topping. Alongside was berry sorbet on top of pistachio crumbs. It was served with a pistachio brioche that was the best part. It was sweet, buttery and had a pile of wonderful layers to eat through. It was a grand way to end a fabulous meal.
They sent us home with a bag of candies and muffins.