It has been way too long since we have been to Providence. This last visit reminded me how much I love Providence and reinforced my feeling that this is a true Michelin 2 star restaurant. Chef Michael Cimarusti is a true artist – his plating and presentations are exquisite. Not only are the plates lovely to look at but they are equally delicious as well as imaginative and executed with precision. The entire Front of the House team is equally first rate from GM Donato Poto, Sommelier Drew Langley and our server Stephen.
Bread Service is not an afterthought – terrific bacon brioche and Nori Focaccia
A dish is first presented with Oyster Plant leaves
Then the oysters are presented. On the left is a cucumber reduction with horseradish and yuzu. You are instructed to dip the oyster plant leaf in the cucumber reduction and then sip the rest of the reduction. On the right is a Kumamoto oyster with lime, jalapeno and cilantro – a perfect slurping oyster with just the right amount of “kick.”
On the right Grilled Monterey Bay Abalone and on the left Grilled Japanese Sword Squid with Chorizo – again inventive plating plus delicious.
This was an ingenious course – absolutely A+. You are presented with what amounts to a hallowed out Oyster Cracker. (John had visions of me making these crackers untill Stephen said they were very labor intensive). Starting from the left, the first cracker contained creamy mozzarella with tiny dice of tomato on top, then smoked char confit topped with a salmon egg and finally scrambled egg topped with caviar. I was in heaven!
Chef Michael labeled this “Caprese Bubble and Tomato Soup.” I am assuming that the “bubble” was made much like the Mojito Raviolo in that it is made with two chemical agents sodium alginate and calcium chloride. Rob of the Hungry in Hogtown blog writes, “sodium alginate, which is derived from seaweed, is a common emulsifier and thickener in the food industry…. When sodium alginate meets calcium chloride, the sodium ions in the alginate are replaced by calcium ions, thus creating a polymer skin that holds everything inside.” The “bubble” combined tomato, mozzarella and basil. The tomato soup was a yellow tomato consomme topped with fennel foam.
BYO White Wine
Big Eye fatty tuna, uni, salmon eggs (ikura) with dashi – 4 ingredients that were a perfect marriage of taste and texture.
Top Shell (sea snail), Matsutake Mushrooms, Goeduck (Giant Clam), Scallions – I adore Japanese food and this was a definite nod to Japanese cuisine. My one thought was who needs a sushi bar?
Uni Canape – on toasted brioche that had been spread with truffle butter was Santa Barbara Uni topped with small discs of preserved summer truffle
We decided to cut the brioche into 3 pieces, creating 3 canapes. I adore uni and this was a definite winner.
“Peel and Eat” – Santa Barbara Spot Prawns cooked over Binchotan Charcoal.
“Binchotan (備長炭) or white charcoal (白炭) is a traditional charcoal of Japan. It dates to the Edo period, when during the Genroku era, a craftsman named Bitchū-ya Chōzaemon (備中屋 長左衛門) began to produce it in Tanabe, Wakayama. The raw material is oak, specifically ubame oak (Quercus phillyraeoides), now the official tree of Wakayama Prefecture. Wakayama continues to be a major producer of high-quality charcoal, with the town of Minabe, Wakayama producing more Binchotan than any other town in Japan.”
“The fineness and high quality of Binchotan are attributed to steaming at high temperatures. Although it is often thought that Binchotan burns hot, it actually burns at a lower temperature than ordinary charcoal but for a longer period of time. Because it does not release smoke or other unpleasant flavors, it is a favorite of unagi and yakitori cooks.”
On the left is Spot Prawn Butter for dipping the prawns (also delicious for bread dipping) and on the right Maldon Salt
Notice the copious amount of roe in the prawn – my favorite part
BYO Red Wine
Just Grilled Wild Japanese King Mackerel, Rosa Bianca Eggplant Puree, Roasted Scarlet Grapes and Braised Fennel – just perfect
Wild John Dory wrapped with Cured Pork Belly, Summer Black Truffle encased in feuille de brik pastry, fresh celery on a mussel and Serrano Ham foam – At this point in the meal, you would think we would be suffering from palate fatigue but Michael’s cuisine is so vibrant that the opposite holds true – you just want more!
Wild Japanese Alfonsino, Sweet Potato Puree, Braised Sweet Potato Cake, Butter/Nori Sauce, Dehydrated Nori Seaweed, Green Onion – I sound like a broken record but this was a spectacular combination of flavors.
This was our last course before cheese. You will notice that there was no meat in our tasting menu as well as no dessert course. Chef Michael devised our menu and he knows our penchant for small courses, generally just fish and no dessert. This menu was created just for us and as such we owe a huge thank you to the chef.
Cheese – I didn’t write down the names.
Enough to say this was a superior meal and we won’t wait so long to return to Providence.