8.7
LA

Providence

Perfect For: Corporate Cards Fine Dining Impressing Out of Towners Unique Dining Experience
PHOTOS: Jakob Layman

Every big, fancy house has a statement piece. It’s usually an abstract painting you notice when you walk in, or a headless statue in the courtyard, or just a giant piece of twisted metal with aggressively sexual overtones. You don’t fully understand it, but you have feelings about it. You’ll make a comment about it at the dinner table, think about it when you brush your teeth, and see it in your dreams. Providence is LA’s statement piece.

This hyper-modern and absurdly expensive pre-fixe seafood restaurant on Melrose has been open for over a decade, and at this point is classic LA dining. If given the opportunity or randomly handed a $800 check, you should without question come here.

Providence is dimly lit, with no real windows and a color scheme that can best be described as stormy. Save for a few fish nets hanging from the ceiling and some rogue barnacles going up the walls, there’s really no decoration either. It’s traditional and muted, but it’s also not nearly as sterile as it sounds. There’s an energy here that’s warm and unpretentious, largely due to a waitstaff that makes the whole experience unintimidating, a crowd that’s actually enjoying themselves, and an experimental menu that’s worth every bit of the price of admission.

Jakob Layman

You’re going to eat your fair share of leaves and foams and tofu creams here, but at the end of the day, Providence is about great seafood, and you’re going to eat a lot of it. You’ll be given the choice of three set menus ranging from $120 to $220, but if you’ve already made the commitment to be here, we’d advise you go for the full experience.

The $220 Chef’s Menu includes 11 main courses ranging from spicy Thai-inspired prawns to pepper-wrapped squid to wagyu beef with a truffle-injected potato that will ruin all other potatoes for you. There are also three excellent desserts, a bunch of little dishes that aren’t even listed on the menu, and a magical visit from the roaming cheese cart. Some things are certainly going to be unfamiliar, but nothing’s weird for the sake of being weird. This is food that tastes great, makes you feel great, and will leave you wondering how the hell they pulled it all off.

And that’s exactly what a statement piece is supposed to do: be weird and mysterious, but not so much that it alienates anyone walking through the door. Providence was a statement piece when it opened in 2005, and after all these years, we still can’t stop staring at it.

Food Rundown

Geoduck, oyster

Not actually the name of a migratory bird, a geoduck is a type of clam, and when mixed with oysters, heirloom tomatoes, beans, and basil in a glass bowl the result is fantastic. The first of the main courses is light, fresh, and as close as you’ll get to a salad here.

Jakob Layman
Abalone

Arriving to the table looking like a bowl of mulch, this is sunchokes and hazelnut on top of cooked albalone, a giant sea snail. The dish is a savory, buttery, and delicious mix of things you don’t often get to try. It will be one of the highlights of the night.

Jakob Layman
Local Squid

Not our favorite dish, but interesting nonetheless. It’s squid wrapped in red pepper, with a yuzu sauce we’d like to take home a bottle of.

Santa Barbara Spot Prawn On Sunset

This is a shout-out to the old-school Thai spots on Sunset Blvd. and is a much-needed change of pace in the middle of the meal. It’s slightly spicy and easily has the boldest flavor of any dish you’ll eat here. We only wish there was more of it.

Jakob Layman
A5 Wagyu

Providence might be a seafood restaurant, but their red meat is also fantastic. This wagyu beef strip is the last of the big main courses and is a fatty little slice of caloric heaven. Also, that black truffle-infused potato on the side is something very special.

Jakob Layman
Cheese Cart

After you clear the wagyu beef from your plate, up rolls the most beautiful sight of the night: the cheese cart. You pick and choose the cheese plate of your dreams, with the help of the in-house cheese consultant*.

*dream job

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