6 rue Bailleul (1)
Every reader of every English language Paris food blog knows about Spring and its Chicago-born chef, Daniel Rose. Talk about hype. It is over the top. Spring closed its 16 seat restaurant two years ago. Finally, it has reopened, with a no reservation tapas-type menu downstairs (reserved for a private party when we were there). The impossible reservation crush and praise from loyal bloggers is unrelenting. I must have missed something. A nice space dominated by a completely open kitchen. In contrast to the ballet of a practiced brigade, three or four cooks wandering in the space.
Seven weeks later, the cooks still have not established a rhythm. Better to hide the kitchen until they have.
As users of this Diary may have experienced personally, and as warned in its Introduction, it is intended as neither definitive nor universal. My observations reflect what works and doesn’t for me.
What I wrote on the basis of two visits to Spring in 2011 stand. That it is now a new and different restaurant, and a very good one, doesn’t reflect reconsideration on my part, but evolution on theirs. So let’s start again.
Six cooks plus Chicago-born chef Daniel Rose at the pass, calling orders and reviewing plates. A dishwasher; young and helpful sommelier; outgoing, professional manager recruited from the Ducasse organization, plus three other servers/coat checkers/hosts/hostesses. This is now a professional organization turning out very good food to a full house at every meal. 45 seats upstairs and down. No longer a separate menu for the downstairs, which lacks a view to the theater of the open kitchen that dominates the small upstairs room. What a change! Spring is now worthy of the hype which surrounded – and wildly exaggerated – its opening phase.
Four courses (one more than the traditional 33€- 38€ formula of so many others); 64€, plus wines on the high end. Good, but not exceptional food (mullet and duck consommé, “bacon and eggs” with mushrooms, squab). Good food, not great food. No menu. No choice. No listing of what you are eating.
Chef’s menu only. Five courses. At our dinner, either pigeon breast (guinea hen) with lobster, or saddle of lamb with neck of lamb, with or without wine pairings.
Ambitions multi-course menu. Truffle bouillon with roasted vegetables and truffle slices. Scallop and oyster combination, with a second course of two fried oysters in oyster cream. Filet of sole over sautéed cabbage leaves. Beautiful saddle of lamb with second serving of slow cooked caramelized lamb’s neck, served with puree of celery root. Cheese or dessert. Cheese: eight slices of wonderful selection. Dessert: in five courses, including fruit and light chocolate tart. Unusual. Well-prepared. Not all works of art to look at, but they are working on that too.
Casual; almost uncoordinated.
Now more attentive and professional.
Better staffed. A dedicated team of young waiters work and try hard, and seem to be succeeding.
Polite. Attentive. Informed. Still less polished, but in keeping with the tone of the restaurant, which straddles formal in terms of ambition, no choice chef’s menu and prices, while casual in terms of its obscure alley location and room-dominating open kitchen.
Insupportably high fixed price. Twenty alternatives in this Diary, including the new La Regalade Saint-Honore literally around the corner, serve better food (but one fewer course), at barely more than half the price. I don’t get it.
38€ lunch still on the high end for two courses and dessert plus extras (See Frederic Simonin in the 8th.)
Very expensive. Menu 78€ with expensive wine list (although the sommelier happy to recommend less costly choices. Just ask). So prices on a par with vastly more traditional, more formal competitors. Take your choice. You will no longer be disappointed at Spring.
Daniel Rose, the now-elevated chef/owner of Spring (plus two other spin-offs in Paris) has announced Spring will close in 2017. I sense business was strong, but Rose has more or less moved to New York where he is a chef and part owner of Le Coucou, a very hot and ultra expensive Tribeca French restaurant.