Spring in Wintertime

Since my semester in Paris is coming to an end (as is supposedly the world), I called upon a few of my friends to go with me to the restaurant Spring. I’ve wanted to go since my mom was here visiting me, since I have and had seen it on about every Paris restaurant list, but hadn’t had the chance to actually go. But I finally made a reservation and found ourselves on the street Rue Bailleul, just off of the métro Louvre-Rivoli, with the unassuming sign “Spring.”

As soon as we entered, we were greeted by an extremely friendly man with a Spanish-French accent (we later learned that he was from Argentina). I told him that I was “Kristen Lee and I have a reservation for…” and he finished my sentence for me, “…4 people? Perfect!! Let me take your coats.” Well, that was easy. It’s a small interior, but with an open-kitchen setting, one of my simple pleasures in life, so we could see the very youthful staff preparing the food.

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Lunch is a prix-fixe menu, with the menu changing every week or so, or by season. We found ourselves in the hands of a very youthful (and good-looking, might I add) staff and Daniel Rose, the American-born chef (my friend wanted to go bond with him over being American, but decided against it…).

The very youthful, boyish sommelier with glasses came to serve us, and since we were struggling with choices for our first white wine, we asked him what he recommended. He went through a few suggestions and as soon as he pointed to a Sauvignon Blanc, I yelped, my friends and the sommelier were given a small fright, and then we got a bottle of one of the freshest, cleanest, untraditional white wines I had ever had. A pale, light gold. My first instinct was a hint of apple.IMG_2520And then it began. Our first course was a set of very small dishes. The first one was some sort of raw fish (looked like yellowtail to me) in beautifully creamy crême fraiche with fresh, pickled onions. This was a dish to share between two people, and I ended up finishing both. I loved the colors – the pale pink with the unassuming green.

IMG_2512The other dish was a sea urchin shell with sea urchin and small, chopped fruits and vegetables, one of the more prominent being radish.

IMG_2514The next dish was scallop, and oysters, in a citrus-y-vinegar sauce. One of my friends was worried that she might be allergic to oysters since she had never had them before and her mom is highly allergic, so I was lucky and got her oyster. But I would say the scallops really made the dish – PERFECTLY and I mean PERFECTLY cooked. The taste of the sea was neutralized by the vinegar which made for a delicious and light experience.

IMG_2517The young sommelier soon came around to offer us a red wine this time. I, again, made the decision to have a bottle of Rhone. It again was so untraditional but SO SO SO wonderful. It was fruity, I want to say, but not mind-numbingly sugary or tacky. Very lovely, pretty wine.

IMG_2522The main course was a little quail. As soon as we saw it, we laughed out loud. One of my friends said, “Look! It’s doing criss-cross-apple-sauce!!” Apart from our outstanding sense of humor, it was delicious. The meat was so so so velvety and warm. The two little sides were, I believe, the silkiest mashed potatoes I had ever had and the other was some sort of apricot purée with hazelnuts. IMG_2521We finished with three different desserts. They were all served at the same time by another youthful and exotically chic woman, who had been serving us on and off with the Argentinian staff member (great duo!!). I chose to start with the cold sorbet with fruit gelatin, to cleanse the palette.

IMG_2525I then tried the ice cream with chocolate, and prunes. Very classic, simple, and delicious dessert. My friends and I were the quietest we had been during the meal since we were all so focused on these small, sugary delicacies.

IMG_2526And lastly were two tarts – one pear and one lemon meringue. I’ve discovered the beauty of pear tarts in Paris – and pears PAIRED with chocolates (see what I did there?) So I was eating that tart along with the chocolate and ice cream. But the lemon meringue tart was gorgeous. The cream was so delicate and light, not too sugary or rich. And the meringue was sculpted perfectly into the tart, with the lemon hidden within. They weren’t all fully mixed, so I could taste each flavor individually, but when I had them together, they made for a harmonious and heavenly little tart.

IMG_2527I think my favorite parts about this experience were 1) the open-kitchen setting, 2) the Argentinian man who first greeted us, and 3) the temperature of the food. Normally I think about the textures, and the flavors – don’t get me wrong – the flavors were OUTSTANDING and complementary and fantastic, as were the two wines we had, good god, don’t get me started.

But what made the food so unique was the perfection of the temperatures. Nothing was scalding, nothing was too cold. I don’t know how to explain it, but the sea urchin was perfectly chill but not so chill that we couldn’t get the texture and flavor. The scallops were warm but not so warm that it was just another grilled scallop, but one that was done under the meticulous eye of perfection. The quail was just warm enough to be more than satisfying as a meat dish, and the desserts were perfect. Everything was just right that we didn’t have to blow on anything to cool it down or lose track of the hints of citrus or vinegar because of frigidness on the tongue. It’s like I didn’t even have to think twice. Everything was a wonderful fusion of French, American, and even Asian flavors.

I HIGHLY recommend going – the food was beyond delicious, the service was fantastic and quick and professional and warm, and the interior was sleek and modern. One of the best meals I’ve ever had with some of my favorite people. I would personally love to go again for a dinner.

I apologize for not having the exact names and details of each course (I’m going to call them to ask for the menu though, fret not!!)


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