Dining At Table Culture Provisions

"From the Turf'' at Table Culture Provisions
“From the Turf” at Table Culture Provisions.

Feel how you may about Elon Musk, but there’s no denying that Tesla stock has proved a boon for many.

That was certainly true for chefs St├ęphane Saint Louis and Steven Vargas. During the height of Covid, the two made the daring decision to invest their Small Business Loans pandemic stimulus checks in Tesla stock, which turned out to be a brilliant move. It took all of five months for their $2,400 investment to balloon into a $17,000 windfall.

That provided the seed money not only to kick-start a successful fried chicken pop-up during the pandemic, but allowed them to generate enough funds to open their first restaurant, Table Culture Provisions in Petaluma in November 2020.

The restaurant, which has garnered glowing reviews, sports a teeny dining room and an equally tiny outdoor dining patio.

So, it comes as no surprise that Table Culture Provisions would soon find itself needing more space. As such, it will be moving to a much larger location around the corner later this summer that will feature prix fixe and a la carte menus. Its current location will remain open, as a laboratory of sorts for more forward-pushing tasting menus.

That’s what I gleaned when I dined recently at the spare and elegant little space done up with denim-colored walls.

A view of the chefs from the dining room.
A view of the chefs from the dining room.

The chefs in the kitchen are visible behind a row of windows that look onto the dining room. Given the space limitations, it’s rather remarkable the elegant, elevated food that comes out to the table.

One tasting menu is available, Wednesday through Saturday. You can opt for a truncated version with four courses for $75 per person (with optional $60 wine pairing) or the whole 7-course shebang for $125 (with optional $110 wine pairing).

The Craftsman-style-like interior.
The Craftsman-style-like interior.

There are also optional supplements such as Parker House rolls ($8) or caviar and Perigord truffles. Although my husband and I paid our own tab, the chefs were kind enough to add caviar and truffle slices (“Double Threat,” $50) on the house.

"Around the Surf.''
“Around the Surf.”

Dinner begins with two different themed trios that each form a dazzling tableau. “Around the Surf” is composed of bright and clean tasting oyster on the half shell accented with yuzu, salmon roe, and edible flowers; squid ink madeleine the color of cool concrete topped with gold leaf and glistening caviar that looked like high-end jewelry and tasted buttery, briny, and subtly sweet; and lastly, delicate Indian pani puri whose crispy shell gave way to a filling of creamy crab salad inside.

A closer look of the oysters.
A closer look of the oysters.
Pani puri.
Pani puri.
Squid ink madeleiines.
Squid ink madeleines.

Next came “From the Turf,” with a frothy, creamy asparagus cappuccino that thoroughly captured the freshness of spring; a golden, warm gougere dotted with seaweed streusel like a Mexican concha and filled with mushroom duxelles; and a thin wonton-like shell strewn with fried capers and filled with Flannery beef tartare, making for possibly the richest, beefiest tasting tartare I’ve ever had.

Asparagus cappuccino.
Asparagus cappuccino.
Beef tartare tartlet.
Beef tartare tartlet.
Mushroom gougere.
Mushroom gougere.

We opted for the Parker House rolls, which provided the only misstep of the meal. The rolls were deeply golden and glossy, and were served with cultured butter dotted with sea salt. But perhaps they were baked just a smidge over, as they tasted slightly dry, unfortunately.

Parker House rolls.
Parker House rolls.

The next course more than redeemed. In fact, it hit it out of the park. Ravioles filled with succulent beef cheek were finished with an intense jus that exploded with umami. A rich and pungent Telaggio foam completed the dish, along with a little chimichurri to lighten everything with zesty herbaceousness, and a couple slices of truffle for extra luxuriousness.

Fantastic beef cheek ravioloes.
Fantastic beef cheek ravioles.
Black cod with asparagus.
Black cod with asparagus.

Next, black cod cooked sous vide to keep it very moist, rolled up and served with a fish bone jus, parsnip foam, Tokyo turnip, and a little black garlic puree that upped the savoriness in this light tasting dish.

The scallop version.
The scallop version.
The beef version.
The beef version.

That was followed by scallop for my husband with a crisp, cheesy arancini, and buttery carrot pave, all accented by a roasted fish jus. Owing to my allergy, the chef swapped out the scallop for more of the Flannery beef, cooked to barely medium-rare with plenty of deep rosiness still at the center paired with a black garlic jus. Yes, my husband, aka Meat Boy, gazed at my portion longingly as he dug into his day boat scallop. And yes, I did share with him a taste of the beef filet, which was tender and deeply flavorful.

To refresh the palate, there were coupes of bracing lemon mousse underneath a cloud of coconut cream sweetened with white chocolate. Hidden below were unexpected balls of cucumber, a novel addition that provided an invigorating freshness.

Lemon mousse.
Lemon mousse.
Chocolate and pear tartlet.
Chocolate and pear tartlet.

Next, a milk chocolate tartlet with a filling of diced, spiced pears and a swirly top of white chocolate ganache. A fanciful hazelnut praline was propped on top like a royal scepter.

The last sweet bites.
The last sweet bites.

Lastly, there were mignardises of chewy, nutty pistachio financiers; white chocolates with a gushing filling of tangy and bitter grapefruit; and crunchy dark chocolates with salted caramel.

In laid-back, casual Petaluma, arguably you don’t expect such a lofty experience as this. And that makes Table Culture Provisions that much more of a special find.

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