The Providores and Tapa Room (London)

I can think of a good number of things I should be writing rather than this but it would appear that I get antsier about this backlog accumulating than about my actual work piling up. Oh well. Live to die another day!

(Casually acting like this post is not actually something like half a year overdue hehe.)

The Providores is a great little restaurant in the Marylebone area offering modern European fusion fare. The main restaurant is upstairs but they also have a tapas room on the ground floor. Their sister restaurant, Kopapa, is excellent as well, and apparently one of the original partners actually started the Modern Pantry! The brunch menu here is supposedly pretty good too so I plan to return to try it one day.

On this particular visit we were pretty early so it was still very empty when we arrived and we got a lovely seat by the window. It really started to fill up by about 7PM,  even though, if my memory serves me correctly, it was only a Monday night.

The restaurant does a set menu – 2 courses for £33, 3 courses for £47, 4 courses for £57 and 5 courses for £63. We both went for 3 courses this time, which I think is ample for the average person, but I could personally do 5 courses because I’m a Fatty McFatty like that. (Now, if only my wallet was as fat.)

The waiter came proffering bread and I know girls are supposed to act coy around carbs so it really would not do to take more than one roll at once. But I could not make up my mind, and so I had one of everything, much to the waiter’s amusement. Fresh bread and salted butter is hard to beat (especially if the bread is free)!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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PLUS you need some carbs to absorb the drink, right?

Lychee and Sake Martini - Lighthouse gin, Sho Chiku Bai sake & Lychee-Li stirred over ice (£9.50)

Lychee and Sake Martini – Lighthouse gin, Sho Chiku Bai sake & Lychee-Li stirred over ice (£9.50)

The cocktails all looked good but you can’t not order something that has gin, sake and lychee in it, can you?! I would say the sake taste came through the strongest in this though, so if you’re not a fan, steer clear. (I am a fan because Asian.)

Cucumber & basil sour - Element 29 cucumber-infused vodka muddled with cucumber & basil, shaken with lemon juice & egg white  (£9.50)

Cucumber & basil sour – Element 29 cucumber-infused vodka muddled with cucumber & basil, shaken with lemon juice & egg white (£9.50)

In which case the Cucumber & Basil Sour may be a better idea. It’s just as refreshing but doesn’t feel like it’s clearing your bowels.

In terms of food, everything on the menu sounded really good, so if you’re having a hard time deciding, as we were, the waiters are extremely helpful.

Our waiter was really pushing this dish in particular, so we had to get it.

Crab and coconut laksa, a bream and pink peppercorn dumpling, soba noodles, soft boiled quail’s egg, crispy shallots, coriander

Crab and coconut laksa, a bream and pink peppercorn dumpling, soba noodles, soft boiled quail’s egg, crispy shallots, coriander

The verdict? It was good if you have no idea what an authentic laksa tastes like. The flavour of the crab was very strong, and it felt odd having soba noodles instead of the usual yellow noodles I like with laksa. When I eat soba, I eat it for the flavour of the noodle itself, so I personally wouldn’t drown it in a heavily seasoned and spiced broth. The bream and pink peppercorn dumpling was interesting but a tad over-salted. Ok I know I’m making it seem like I didn’t enjoy this at all, which I promise is not true! I did but it certainly is not laksa.

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But ooh runny yolk. (Featuring my next-level photo-taking while using chopsticks to  hold my half-eaten, spherical, slippery food, delicately pinching it so that just the right amount of yolk oozes out.)

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Seared yellowfin tuna, papaya, carrot, cucumber, coriander, lime chilli dressing, toasted nori sauce, peanuts, sesame

Seared yellowfin tuna, papaya, carrot, cucumber, coriander, lime chilli dressing, toasted nori sauce, peanuts, sesame

Seared tuna is something that always gets me. And I get it. Boy, do I get it. This was good but not as good as the seared tuna at Eight over Eight (see post here), though, having said that, the latter does specialise more in Japanese fusion, so that’s a wholly unfair comparison.

And then meat.

Beef Pesto – The Sugar Club classic:  marinated beef fillet, warm chard, courgette and beetroot salad, garlic dressing, pesto, kalamata olives

Beef Pesto – The Sugar Club classic:
marinated beef fillet, warm chard, courgette and beetroot salad, garlic dressing, pesto, kalamata olives

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I could personally have had my beef much more underdone but it was still good, particularly with the accompaniments. I love anything with pesto, but the olives gave it a great Mediterranean flavour and I liked the tangle of crunchy, sweet-and-sour beetroot salad.

I have nothing but love for the next dish though.

Crispy Dingley Dell pork belly, dashi braised Brussels sprouts, Puy lentils, apple, lemongrass peanut butter

Crispy Dingley Dell pork belly, dashi braised Brussels sprouts, Puy lentils, apple, lemongrass peanut butter

This was very good. Very, very good. Would order it again in a heartbeat and I highly recommend you do too. The skin was crisp but not hard, and they had left the perfect amount of fat on it such that it was melt-in-your-mouth tender, while the meat itself was juicy and flavourful. I don’t remember much about the accompaniments though I’m sure they were good, just that the pork belly really stole the show. And rightfully so, if you ask me.

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In fact, I think this was the week I had pork belly thrice in a row. (And I say this on a belly full of pig’s trotters from dinner today hehe.)

Finally, I think you absolutely must order dessert here.

Frozen hazelnut nougat, cafe latte ice cream, cherry ponzu sauce, hazelnut snow

Frozen hazelnut nougat, cafe latte ice cream, cherry ponzu sauce, hazelnut snow

 

This was a real treat. The frozen hazelnut nougat was like a parfait, but set a little harder, and in terms of flavour, melded really well with the creamy cafe latte ice cream. I wish I could tell you more about the cherry sauce but it would appear that I tend to block out all encounters with fruit from my memory.

Unless, of course, fruit is a necessary part of the exercise. As it is in a crumble. Which is an exercise I could actually stand to do.

 

Quince and apple oat-crumble tart, Golden Crunch ice cream, heather honey custard

Quince and apple oat-crumble tart, Golden Crunch ice cream, heather honey custard

 

I remember us enjoying this very much as well. The fruit portion wasn’t too tart, which is something I always fear when I have crumble, and it was cooked down to a perfect consistency so that it was soused but not gummy. Also, a restaurant that doesn’t make you choose between ice-cream and custard – and then feel greedy, judged and wholly misunderstood when you ask, “Is it possible to have both?” – is always good in my books! People really must learn to understand that ice-cream and custard are one and the same, since they are just a combination of milk, eggs and sugar in different stages of development, and so it should never be a question of either/or. Come to think of it, with this “crumble tart”, the restaurant doesn’t even make you choose between a crumble and a tart either. You can has both! Flaky, buttery pastry and crisp crumble topping… Mm. These people speak my language. (Which, my sister will be keen to point out, is the language of Fat People, the language I use to justify my Fat Kid Mentality.)

And so we conclude another successful fatventure! I’m happy to say that J really enjoyed the food too, which is always a bonus for me, particularly since my friends all have excellent taste. Do I think it’s worth the trek to Marylebone if you don’t live around the area? Yes I do. Good food in a cosy, relaxed set-up, and great service to boot. I personally would come back again for the pork belly, hazelnut nougat and apple crumble tart, and there are a couple of other dishes that seem worth trying as well.

On a final note, thank you guys for continuing to check this space daily – and obsessively, some of you – and for constantly pestering me to do an update! Sorry that it’s taken this long!

 

THE PROVIDORES AND TAPA ROOM

109 Marylebone High Street,
London, W1U 4RX, UK

Monday – Friday
Lunch:       12:00pm – 3:00pm
Dinner:       6:00pm – 10:30pm 
 
Saturday
Brunch:       10:00am – 3:00pm
Dinner:       6:00pm – 10:30pm 

Sunday
Brunch:     10:00am – 3:00pm
Dinner:        6:00pm – 10:00pm 

 

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