Photo: Meg Zimbeck, Paris by Mouth
To say that the reopening of Daniel Rose’s Spring, in its bigger, more upscale location, has been getting a lot of attention would be a definite understatement. The pre-opening press was a feeding frenzy as journalists, bloggers (myself included) and food forums all wondered when Spring II would finally open and more importantly how they would get a reservation.
That day finally came on 14 July, or Bastille Day as Americans call it, and ever since there has been no shortage of press, including a thorough accounting by Meg Zimbeck for Blackbook and a piece by Alexander Lobrano in the New York Times blog The Moment.
This second coming of Spring is more polished than the original—the pocket-sized restaurant on the rue de la Tour d ‘Auvergne in Paris’s 9th arrondissement where Daniel Rose, the young chef from Chicago, working alone in his tiny open kitchen, charmed French critics with his modern take on French cooking.
A lot has changed since then. The kitchen is still open, but Daniel is now joined by a very talented team—Marie-Aude Mery, who was with him in the later months at the original location and has cooked in some very impressive kitchens (Pierre Gagnaire, Guy Savoy), Olla Claesson, and Daniel Eddy, who comes to Paris via New York. In the dining room is Sofian Nait-Bouda and Fabien Mazzia, whose professional and friendly service adds to the overall good mood.
As with anything that gets so much hype, it could be hard to live up to expectations. It’s one thing to be a charming young chef (and an American) in an out of the way location who single-handedly does the cooking, shopping and serving himself (a “one man chaud” was the French critic’s refrain), and entirely something else to oversee a full scale operation in the heart of Paris. Everyone knows a story about the successful local business that decides to expand, only to find the magic doesn’t work in the newer, often bigger, location.
Fortunately, the new Spring does work. The space is impressive, with a large, modern, very open kitchen at the centre of the 28-seat dining room. Come September they will open a wine bar downstairs for more casual eating and drinking.
The food on two recent visits—the first for lunch during their “soft-opening” and then dinner a few nights after the official opening—was brilliant. Beautiful ingredients, simply, but expertly cooked, with an innovative style. I absolutely loved both meals.
For dinner we started with a refreshing fragrant melon paired with lomo, lime and fresh mint (something I made that night at home it was so simple and good), which was followed by artichoke hearts with anchoïade; eggplant prepared 4 ways—smoked, grilled, pureed and fried—served with smoked eel; a beautiful tuna from Saint Jean de Luz paired with intensely flavored tomatoes and a perfectly cooked New Caledonian shrimp; probably the best pigeon I have ever had served with crisp sweet breads over a bed of sautéed cucumbers; and two desserts-a verbena and apricot broth with raspberries, and sautéed black cherries and fresh almonds. Lunch centered around a superb bouillon with roasted chicken and a delicious medley of vegetables from Joël Thiébault.
I did not choose the wines on either visit (and so did not see the list), but went back again last week with a friend with a wine shop in Paris who was impressed with both the list and the prices. It seems that Sofian Nait- Bouda, Spring’s sommelier, and Josh Adler, who also buys for Spring boutique around the corner, have done a great job of finding interesting artisan wines, many of which are vin naturel.
My only regret is that the new Spring is going to be as impossible to get into as the last one, which by the time it closed was probably the hardest table to book in Paris. But its success is well deserved and I couldn’t be happier for Daniel and Marie-Aude, who have created one of the most interesting tables to open in Paris in the past few years.
6 Rue Bailleul
Lobster Sandwiches on Saturday in August
Prices: 23 € for the lunch bouillon, extra for small plates; 64 € for the 6 course prix fixe menu at dinner
More About Spring on the Web