About

"The reluctant Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Spring -- restaurant review (lunch)

Spring Restaurant

6 Rue Bailleul
75001 Paris
01.45.96.05.72
Website

Rating Standards: 4-Stars = Extraordinary; 3-Stars = Excellent; 2-Stars = Good; 1-Star = Fair; NO stars = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum of 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

 


2.5 -Stars.........................€€...................2-Bells




With much anticipation and waiting, Daniel Rose's  Spring finally opened in the 1er arrondissement in early July. I went with a friend just before it opened to take a peek at his new restaurant, which seats 22-people. I loved that he was able to maintain much of the historical aspects of that building.  Since its opening it has been reviewed and written by everybody who is anybody in the food world. I was concerned with all the hype and PR blitz that my expectations would be too high for him to meet.



Daniel at the helm



Daniel and his sous Chef plating
I have friends coming in October, so I originally tried to make reservations via phone, to no avail. Then I tried sending him an email, no avail. Not a very good first impression, so I went in person and they couldn't have been nicer. I overlooked the phone call and email incident 'cause I knew they were still ironing out the kinks, then I found out they did have phone problems, and in Paris, this is a major issue, so I won't fault them. The restaurant is in a great location (1er arrondissement), but the street itself is a little funky. It's a narrow side street, more like an alley, and not very attractive at that. So, unless you know where you're going, it could be difficult to find.

I normally review restaurants for dinner, but I was told by several people to try lunch and dinner, since they are very different.  The meals change each service. So we went for lunch. As you walk in, you immediately see the main attraction, the kitchen. It is enormous by French standards, and especially in comparison to the size of the dining area. The kitchen is the focal point. Very high tech, complete with every kitchen gadget imaginable. It is an open concept eating, where you can see all the action and activity in the kitchen.  In the US, you  have a Chef's special wherein a table is set up in or near the kitchen, this gives the diner the experience of not only eating the food, but the visual and sensory preparation of the food. I bring this up, because this is what it felt like to me. We literally sat next to the kitchen. I loved it, because for me a good sign of a restaurant and its food, is how well the kitchen is managed, and how well the "team" work together. I've been in kitchens where there was so much screaming and yelling going on, it felt like a boot camp of fear. Daniel and his team worked extremely well together, each helping one another to ensure the food is plated perfectly. And, what impressed me more was that Daniel is a hands-on Chef.

Mirrors with reflective vases so you can see the kitchen from any perspective
Heirloom tomatoes

As I may have mentioned, it is a fixed menu. And,  each service changes daily.  So, you will not know beforehand what you will be eating. I'm sure if you ask, Daniel will probably accommodate those who are vegeterrorists.

Although they do have wait staff describing each dish, I would have preferred seeing a menu.

For the amuse bouche we had the heirloom tomatoes, slightly smoked. I'm not a tomato person, but this was delicious. It almost tasted like persimmons to me. A great start.

They have an extensive  wine list, but be forewarned, they're quite pricey. We ordered a Hungarian Tokaji furmint sec for 55€ at the suggestion of the sommelier after we declined his first suggestion of one of the more expensive wines on the list (well over 100€).

Pomme Dauphine
We had two starters. The first was a a Pomme Dauphine. A fritter with lobster and lime zest. It was delicious, perfectly crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. It almost tasted like a fancy hush puppies or croquettes. Now who wouldn't love something fried, n'est-ce pas?








Tete de veau

This next was mine and Just Jack's favorite course of the day, veal head atop Armenian cucumbers with the jus.  All I can say, it was perfect. The veal had a lot of flavor in every bite, it had a nice combination of crispy meat, and tender pieces as well. It was a nice juxtaposition with the cool cucumbers and the juice. A+ for this dish.





Magret de canard avec jus de homard


The plat was my least favorite dish, it was just OK, not very inspiring. Just Jack also agreed.  It was duck breast atop daikon, with thin sliced radishes and beets. The presentation was very nice, and Daniel came out and poured hot broth over the duck.  The lobster broth did not taste like lobster, but more like veal stock, which by the way I liked. But since I was expecting some lobster flavor it just didn't come out for me.  The 2-types of radishes just didn't work for me either, one soft one crispy. I like my daikon a little crispy and I know since this was suppose to mimic a stew, the daikon would have to be like a potato, in concept, but for me it just didn't work. And, the crispy radishes, were just that. However, the duck was tasty.

Cheese course



The selection of cheeses were excellent. I chose the brebis (sheep) and the roquefort. Just Jack had all the hard cheeses of the different brebis and cantal. Keep in mind this is extra.

I say, whoever your cheese vendor is, they're a keeper!







bread

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the bread. When I first took a bite, it felt a little strange to me, then I realized why. I've been so used to eating baquettes where the bread is crustier and the dough lighter, my mouth and taste buds were just not use to this new sensation. This is a dense, heavy, doughy bread.  Very Germanic type of bread. After eating more of it, I actually started liking it. So, I asked where they got the bread, they get it from a Muslim baker from the Maghreb. By the way, Just Jack loved it too.




I was going to swear off dessert, but before I could say no desserts for me, they came. The devil made me!  We each got 4-types of dessert. A cardamon cookie, thyme sorbet with raspberries, blueberries with a peach flavored meringue, and a creme pudding with lemon and chocolate pralines at the bottom.  The fruit desserts were sloppy.  Just Jack thought the raspberries were a bit off. My least favorite was the raspberry, the jus tasted like just plain simple sugar, and the blueberry dish was just so uninspiring and gritty from the sugar. My favorite was the pudding. It had smooth, sour, sweet, and crunchy texture, it literally tickled every sensation in my mouth.


Daniel is a very adventurous and brave soul. Imagine changing your menu each service. As most people who know about the restaurant business, this can be quite challenging and difficult. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. but since Daniel is a hands-on Chef,  he doesn't need to depend on training the "staff," plus his restaurant is quite small. It feels very intimate, it feels as if you're in a friend's kitchen watching them prepare your dinner. Also, the restaurant has 3-levels and they have a bar where you can order "tapas" type dishes with wines on the lower level. And, on the 3rd lower level a wine cellar for wine tasting parties. 

In summary, overall I thought lunch was better than good. Daniel and his staff are excellent hosts. The pre-fix lunch menu was 38€ which is expensive for lunch, our total for 3-people came to 219€.  However, since there is no menu given to you, with the exception of the wine list, prices are not indicated, therefore, if they ask if you would like e.g., a cheese or xyz, ask if it's extra if you are on a budget.

We like the idea of a daily creation of the Chef where one takes their chances of a "hit" or "miss," but there probably should be a signature dish that he is known for offered as an alternative to the day's creative venture.  For example, Le Regalade is known for their "poitrine de porc" which is always offered on their menu.

This restaurant has become the new sensation, and I think in time it will be. Reservations are getting harder to make. So, if you come to Paris, make them well in advance.

2 comments :

  1. Non to the tete de veau. I'm too old and too southern to learn to eat that. BUT, oui to the pomme dauphine. Lord I love something Frenchie that is a hush puppy in disguise.
    V

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm drooling over the food and especially the kitchen. Hopefully by the time I get back to Paris, the desserts will have improved

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