Last Sunday, Ashley and I took her mother out to Providence to celebrate her birthday. We did the tasting menu (detailed below), and had a bottle of both the 2004 Domaine Valette Pouilly-Vinzelles and the 2006 Arcadian Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard throughout the meal. The Pouilly-Vinzelles was pretty good, but not amazing; it was starting to show some aged character, and had a very expressive nose. I would have preferred more acidity out of it, but it’s hard to complain much considering its overall solid performance. The Arcadian Pisoni Pinot was excellent, but suffered from being a pop-n-pour; we did put it in a large decanter and gave it some vigorous agitation, but it didn’t really start opening-up 'till about 3 hours into the meal.
As for the meal, well, it was good, but not $125 per person good — I’d go more in the $70 - $75 range for what we got, so I’m not sure I’ll go back for the tasting menu. As alluded-to, above, our meal took a long time – longer than I would have preferred, and I’m a slow eater, so if I think the meal is progressing slowly, then it’s likely progressing sa-ah-lo-ow-ly — there must have been at least 3 times that we waited 15 minutes between courses. About half-way through our meal we opted to move tables, as a couple who smelled like they bathed in their cologne/perfume were seated at the table next to us, making it nearly impossible for me to smell or taste anything besides their toilet water. Perhaps the choice to move tables makes me snobbish, but, if that’s the case, I quite frankly don’t give rat’s ass. Seriously, who the hell goes to a restaurant like this smothered in cologne!?! Simply rude, and ignorant. That said, I certainly don’t blame the restaurant for the rudeness of its patrons, and Providence did field my request to change tables gracefully, and without complaint ---- huge kudos to Providence for that.
Enough bitching … on with the food:
japanese kanpachi (kagoshima)
crispy rice crackers, australian finger lime crème fraîche
This was pretty good. The crispy (nori) rice crackers were the most flavorful thing on the plate, and provided a nice textural contrast to the raw fish. I thought the finger lime crème fraîche was a bit strong for the dish, so I used only a very little bit on the mild-flavored fish.
santa barbara sea urchin
champagne beurre blanc, fines herbs
This was, by far, my favorite dish of the evening. I’d never had sea urchin, so I don’t know how typical of a preparation we received. The sea urchin meat was crispy, and was served in an egg-shell, atop the poached egg in the bottom of the shell, with a champagne beurre blanc foam topping it off. Good pairing with the white burg., but an (surprising) astounding pairing with the pinot noir. So delicious!
nancy’s scallops (maine)
buckwheat, dashi, napa cabbage
Scallops were cooked perfectly, and I really enjoyed the buckwheat accompaniment. The chardonnay paired decently with this, but needed more acid to be a good pairing.
wild striped bass (north carolina)
cannellini beans, lemon, nori, brown butter
I was initially a little underwhelmed with this dish, but when I tried the fish in the same bite with the cannellini beans it all made sense to me — for me, the fish-and-beans pairing was unusual, and deliciously successful. Great pairing with the chardonnay.
wild tasman sea trout
fennel, beets, orange
So-so. Fish seemed to lack flavor.
— table change —
marcho farms veal tenderloin (franconia, pa)
braised daikon radish, chanterelle mushrooms, black truffle fondue, jus de veau
This dish paired beautifully with the pinot noir, and was a very close second to the sea urchin as my favorite course of the evening.
banana bread pudding
barley ice cream