Michael Tusk & Marc Vetri @ Providence (Los Angeles, CA)

Providence
5955 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dining date: 9/14/15

Providence

This year, Providence is celebrating its 10th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, the restaurant held a three-part guest chef series. The first one was last month featuring Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn in San Francisco) and Suzanne Goin (Lucques), while this one brought chefs Michael Tusk (Quince in San Francisco) and Marc Vetri (Vetri in Philadelphia) into the restaurant. Rounding out the series will be a dinner next month featuring David Kinch (Manresa in Los Gatos) and Mauro Colagreco (Mirazur in France).

I’ve been to Michelin two-starred Quince once and casual sister restaurant Cotogna a few times. This would be my first time having Vetri’s food, though. Tusk, Vetri and Providence’s Michael Cimarusti and pastry chef Jessi Liu collaborated on the evening’s menu, eight courses, for $225.

The meal began with a trio of amuse bouches in quick succession.

loaded potato with osetra caviar, sturgeon mousse and silver leaf (tusk)

loaded potato with osetra caviar, sturgeon mousse and silver leaf (tusk)

australian spanner crab with young ginger, daikon radish (cimarusti)

australian spanner crab with young ginger, daikon radish (cimarusti)

torta d’erbe (vetri)

torta d’erbe (vetri)

The highlight was Tusk’s smoky potato with caviar, while Vetri’s torta had hearty flavors from the onion, bell peppers and other vegetables. The subtle crab dumplings however were a little overshadowed by the acidity of the pickle.

wild big eye tuna smoked celebrity tomato (cimarusti)

wild big eye tuna smoked celebrity tomato (cimarusti)

This dish was beautifully presented and well-balanced of flavors. Tuna was brightened by the basil oil and sweet tomato.

Bread service featured brioche, sourdough and seaweed breads.

Bread

Bread2

barley “minestra” cannellini, passato, spot prawns and baby squid (vetri)

barley “minestra” cannellini, passato, spot prawns and baby squid (vetri)

This might have been my favorite dish of the evening. The barley minestra had such a great depth of flavor, boosted by a shellfish stock. The squid was slightly chewy but the shrimp was perfect – sweet and succulent.

fagottini di fonduta jerusalem artichoke, young leek, shaved white truffles (tusk)

fagottini di fonduta jerusalem artichoke, young leek, shaved white truffles (tusk)

fagottini di fonduta jerusalem artichoke, young leek, shaved white truffles (tusk)

The next dish featured my first taste of white truffles of the season. The corner of a truffle was shaved atop the sweet pasta in a buttery sauce; the subtle flavors of the truffle weren’t really noticeable amongst some strong garlic chips and the artichoke filling. Browsing Instagram later, I noticed other diners got large, broad shavings of truffle for a much more generous portion. I think we just didn’t get our fair share and thus the truffles got lost in the dish. Huge bummer.

wild black sea bass oregon matsutake mushrooms (cimarusti)

wild black sea bass oregon matsutake mushrooms (cimarusti)

Loved the idea of the matsutake ‘scales’ on this sea bass, providing an earthiness to go with the fish. The rich sauce provided the bulk of flavor.

casoncelli alla bergamasca meat filled ravioli with amaretto biscotti and raisins finished with brown butter, sage and pancetta (vetri)

casoncelli alla bergamasca meat filled ravioli with amaretto biscotti and raisins finished with brown butter, sage and pancetta (vetri)

The pasta was filled with veal and pancetta, tossed in a butter sauce with cheese. Good flavors, very rich.

smoked paine farm squab black eyed peas, japanese eggplant, chanterelles, extra vecchio balsamico (tusk)

smoked paine farm squab black eyed peas, japanese eggplant, chanterelles, extra vecchio balsamico (tusk)

Squab was cooked a nice medium rare with a balsamic reduction and jus. The balsamic was a little tart for my personal preference, but balanced well with the squab. Mini chanterelles, eggplant and black eyed peas provided some extra flavors and starch.

melon lemon thyme soda, rambutan (liu)

melon lemon thyme soda, rambutan (liu)

A light and refreshing melon intermezzo was next.

okinawa black sugar buckwheat, illanka, soy (liu)

okinawa black sugar buckwheat, illanka, soy (liu)

Black sugar ice cream topped some housemade marshmallow with a crispy tuile.

mango and chili petit fours
thai tea macaron and black sesame

Mignardises

A few extra sweets ended this meal. The mango-chile had a strong spice upfront with lingering sweetness. The Thai tea macaron was really reminiscent of the sweet drink.

This was a very good meal, though fell short of some very high expectations. There were definitely some great dishes this evening including the potato with caviar, tuna, barley minestra, and sea bass. However, the white truffle dish was a pretty big disappointment. While service was also very good, I also found it a little lacking in attention to detail for this type of restaurant and for this type of special event.


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