It was John’s turn to choose and my turn to pay.
Strangely, John chose The Providores. I say “strangely”, because Janie had suggested the very same place to Charlotte for the coming Friday, but Charlotte had rejected it in favour of 35 New Cavendish.
How likely was that?
I have booked the Providores and Tapa Room for 7.00 p.m. on Wednesday. I have a feeling it is a bit Modern Pantry, but once again I was seduced by the intriguing ingredient combinations and the New Zealand wine list looks fab… There is a pub round the corner called the Gunmakers in Aybrook Street.
Originally we planned for 18:00 in the Gunmakers, but mercifully John sent me an SMS around 17:30 to suggest 18:30 as better, which freed me up to clear my e-mails ahead of a couple of busy days (John’s reasoning was similar).
By the time I got to The Gunmakers, it was heaving with people, possibly a very popular traditional Marylebone pub, possibly the particular live sport on TV that evening – soccer football – how lovely. So, once I was sure I was first, I hovered at the front rather than fight my way to the bar. Once John arrived, it was all I could do to make him hear me say, “let’s go straight to The Providores, this place is heaving and I won’t hear a thing in here.”
The Providores and Tapas Room was much quieter. Janie reminded me a couple of days later that she and I had tried the excellent Tapas Room and Wine Bar downstairs a few years ago, after visiting Brian Fraiman’s offices nearby. But the restaurant upstairs, The Providores, also excellent, is very much a fine dining experience.
The food really was fabulous. Unusually, I was able to download the dinner menu from whence we chose – naturally this might not be the live dinner menu once you read this piece:
- Grilled Presa Ibérica 5J pork, butter bean, vanilla and miso puree, salsa verde (John starter);
- Laksa of smoked Dutch eel, coconut and tamarind, green tea noodles, Scottish girolles (my starter – having rejected the quail egg);
- Beef pesto – The Sugar Club classic: marinated beef fillet, warm chard, courgette and beetroot salad, garlic dressing, pesto, kalamata olives (John’s main);
- Confit duck leg, caramelised onions, almonds, porcini, cavolo nero and blue cheese (my main).
John’s quip about “a bit Modern Pantry” (click here for our venture to the Finsbury Square Branch of that restaurant) huge number of ingredients listed for each uber-fusion dish.
But while the fusions had seemed a bit gratuitous at Modern Pantry Finsbury Square (we loved the Clerkenwell instantiation btw, as will become clear once I get back that far in Ogblog), at the Providores the up-market New Zealand fusions seemed natural, well-balanced and basically superb. Every dish was unusual and utterly delicious.
Superb wine list – all Kiwi wines, in keeping with the food, many good ones available by the glass, a boon for us these days, especially if we want to food match starters and mains.
My only slight beef with the place is that the tables are very small and a bit close together for such a fine restaurant. I think it would feel rather cramped and noisy on a busy night.
It was no problem for us on a relatively quiet Wednesday evening, as we were able to spread out and the place was quiet. So John and I managed to have a jolly good catch up and try (unsuccessfully I fear) to solve the world’s problems from the comfort of a good restaurant. Perhaps John thinks differently – i.e. he might think that we did solve the world’s problems. John might well chime in with a comment in any case – I hope he does.