Having heard great things about Provenance and having already recommended people try it before we even went ourselves we'd been looking forward to this for ages so to say we had expectations is probably true.
Next came vegetables, pickles, okayu sauce, puffed rice, umeboshi. I feared it would be like the veggie dish at Brooks where I was overwhelmed by the strong veggie flavours and at first mouthful when I had some beetroot and I think another piece of veg I began to think I was down that garden path so to speak. But then I ate more and loved the pickled turnip combined with the savoury almost chickeny okayu sauce and I got it. It tasted good!
The smoked bonito, braised turnip, jamon consommé, sautéed lettuce, bottarga took us back to Japan and away from the veggie allotment. Thickly cut sashimi style seasoned with a meaty almost gluey consomme heavy on the jamon flavours and then lightened up by the cleansing turnip and lettuce.
After pork came grass fed Yalandra wagyu, beets cooked in clay, beetroot jam, garlic and horseradish. Steve declared this one of the finest beef dishes he has ever had which is a pretty high accolade. I loved its silky texture and intense flavour off set with sweet beetroot and then a hint of horseradish warmth. An absolute memorable dish and a highlight.
Thinking back to dinner at Provenance and it was such a great evening because there was a sense of anticipation as we waited for the next course. I love that sense of uncertainty, of pushing boundaries and when the flavours come together for that party in the mouth, it's amazing.
In the last three weeks, Steve and I have been lucky enough to try out three great two hatted restaurants - Stokehouse, Aria and Provenance and it's really interesting to compare them. Absolutely the food is delicious at all. Aria wins for classic flavours elevated to stellar status but undeniably it wasn't that exciting and if we weren't with 4 friends it could have been a dull night. Stokehouse, great date place and a pleasant evening...more neighbourhood restaurant than destination dining though. And then Provenance - exciting, worth a trip and I think the fact that the whole package was dinner and a gorgeous room and a spa bath just made it a wonderful experience.