The background is that we were huge Michael fans – loved him at WaterGrill. Yet we have been to Providence twice before now, did the tasting menu, and were underwhelmed each visit. This time we went for my husband’s birthday with three others. We all agreed to order off the menu and not do the tasting, in hopes of a better experience. Admittedly, we were terrible customers. One person in the party arrived 30 min after we were seated. We brought 4 bottles of our own (very good) wine and only ordered a few cocktails. We were kinda loud. And when they overheard me complaining about the tasteless Ahi/Black Truffle dish ($55) they came by and offered to take it back. I took them up on it and replaced it with the SpotPrawns, a complex dish that was prepared tableside. I think they were already closed by the time it came out. Plus, when one of my friends saw how I sent mine back, she jumped on the opportunity and sent hers back as well, even though she had finished more than 75% of it. (But she hated it also)
But I am getting ahead of myself. We knew we were probably in trouble when we all disliked the amuse. It consisted of a piece of raw trout/salmon adorned with a drop of “sauce” they called citrus gelee that I think was basically corn syrup. It was accompanied by a “shot” of liquid that tasted strongly of saffron and fennel. The fennel overpowered it. After trying mine, i quickly advised my husband to avoid the corn syrup sauce and instead added some sea salt flakes from the table to it, and that was passable. The appetizers should have been amazing. My husband and I both got a dish described as scrambled eggs, uni, and black truffles. ($35) It really lacked the intense flavor I was expecting. There was a grillled octopus dish that had a sauce on it that was too sweet. A “raviolio” underwhelmed with a lobster(?) filling. THe best appetizer (and the best dish of the night) was ordered by one of my friends: an uni risotto with lobster. It included 3-4 generous pieces of lobster and a nice piece of uni. It was dressed with a nice foam. Great flavor.
Mains included a ahi tuna with black truffle crust, spot prawns roasted in rosemary salt and prepared tableside, and a few fresh fish items. (Grouper and Snapper.) The tuna, as mentioned earlier, was just awful in that it has no flavor. The truffles were not particularly truffley. The spot prawns, served with both heads and tails. were quite salty. I liked this aspect, my friend did not. They were very fresh and flavorful, but at $55 quite costly. The fresh fish preparations were not memorable.
All in all, we had a great time, drank some great wine, but were terribly disappointed with the food. Michael must not have thought much of us either, he did not come out at all to see how we liked the meal. (We observed him visiting other tables.) The sommelier, Drew, was excellent and very patient with us. THey did cut the corkage from $25 to $20 (we did not ask for this) and that was appreciated. Here are some pictures:
scrambled egg, truffle, uni
ahi tuna in black truffle crust. Note how it is overcooked, as there is a 1/4″ border around the red area. It needed to have a better sear. That is what caused the lack of intense tuna flavor. Truffles were generous but very weak in flavor as well.
Lobster Uni Risotto (best dish of the night)
5955 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038