Thursday, February 14, 2008

St Valentine's Day Lunch: Spring

I'd been hearing and reading about a phenomenal new place in the 9th arrondissement, named Spring, for months now. Better yet, it was super tiny, hard to get into, and the chef was a fanatic for great ingredients. Man, can you tease and tempt me any more than that? I mean, come on, I'm only human! And, of all things, it was run by an Americain! Sacré bleu!

Well the rumors were true. Daniel Rose is making some amazing dishes in a kitchen that must measure about 25 square feet (that's 2.5 square meters for you Metrics out there). He, a sous, and a waitress must share that space while they plate, cook, open wines and generally run the place.

Well, I am happy to report that Spring is still in full swing despite it being the middle of winter. We had lunch there this afternoon and the food and the service were both great. Upon sitting down, we were offered some rillettes, deliciously rich yet not too rich, just rightly salted and too good to pass up.

When I heard what our lunch was to be, I scanned the tiny, Southern French-heavy wine list and ordered the NV Champagne Spring Blanc de Blancs, a wine made specifically for the restaurant. Crisp and lively, its acidity handled most of the medley of flavors we were presented with.

First course was celery soup with duck, an inspired combination. The duck was juicy yet crisp, and married well to the celery. Earthy meat met earthy vegetable and the resulting marriage was made in Heaven. The smells coming off the bowl were to die for, I might add.

Next we had sea bream and pig's foot, which sounded bizarre but turned out to be another delicious combo. I joked with my wife that the presentation would be unusual: an actual pig's trotter stepping on top of a fish. Somehow, she did not think this was amusing. The actual dish was beautiful to behold, something we were coming to expect from this tiny kitchen. The foot had been reduced to something akin to a loose terrine, the sea bream barely cooked. Its flavors were intense yet delicate, and this kind of surf and turf worked real well.

Dessert was a slice of fresh pineapple covered by a slice of dark chocolate ganache, with chopped fruit over it and a dab of sour yoghurt on the side. Fantastic, but difficult to eat as I was getting full by now.

We ended up chatting with Daniel, who was charming, friendly and warm, and really rounded out the whole experience. He has been in Paris for 10 years and opened this place up 15 months ago to great acclaim. Apparently the French don't dislike Americans as much as the Fox Channel would have you think.

I will be certain to go back the next time I'm in Paris. And, I might add, corkage is a friendly 15€.

28 rue de la Tour d'Auvergne
75009 Paris
RESERVATIONS +33 (0)1 45 96 05 72


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