Friday, 15 April 2011

Restaurant Review: Providores

A visit to the shrine of the King of Fusion Food. This review was originally written for Blue Tomato magazine.

Run by Kiwi Peter Gordon, the undisputed king of fusion food and chef beloved of other chefs, The Providores is renowned for its interesting flavour pairings and uninhibited approach to cooking. It sits atop the more casual Tapa Rooms, but we’re expecting it to take a fun rather than formal approach to fine dining that’s more New Zealand than Old Marylebone.

There’s less of a distinction between upstairs and down than we’d have guessed. Plain, simple, light and modern are suitable buzzwords for the decor throughout, which acts as a blank canvas for the creativity of the menu. The sheer length of dish names is appetite whetting and we feel genuinely excited as we wait for oursweetcorn and courgette bhaji with grilled Halloumi, tomato yuzu jam, sumac yoghurt, pickled carrot, and a curry leaf salad (£10.60) to arrive. What turns up is a feast of components which, though all present, correct and quite delicious on their own, merge together to form a genuinely coherent (if very generously sized) dish. A crunchy, moist bhaji; halloumi that’s gooey not squeaky; and salted crispy deep-fried curry leaves are all worthy centrepoints in their own right but manage to successfully share the limelight.

Bring on main course of Crispy Middle White pork belly on black pudding panizza, Oloroso soaked raisin and parsley salad and garlic sautéed wild mushrooms (£24).For another flavour explosion. We also love the panizza (a kind of chickpea pancake) which we’d never tried before, and given that Blue Tomato’s partial to the odd drop of sherry here and there, the Oloroso raisins are the proverbial icing on the cake. The pork is as tender as can be, liteally melting in the mouth, though we would have ideally liked the crackling to have been just a little bit more crackley.

Desserts span Tiki rum baba, apple and cinnamon pie, and a coconut rice pudding, which are quite tame by Providores standards. Then there’s cheese (£9.80), which comes with a spiced fruit jam and forgoes crackers in favour of baked fig and star anise bread. We approve. The wine list is even longer than the dish names and comes with good descriptions. It goes without saying that New Zealand features prominently.

We had high hopes for this homage to all things fusion, but as Peter’s dishes always do, The Providores took things a step further. We left having gained an insight into extreme food matching, discovered some new products and probably having put on a bit of weight. We’ll be back.

The Providores, 109 Marylebone High Street, W1U 4RX

>>originally published in Blue Tomato magazine

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