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I have to devote a separate entry to our dinner at Spring last night. First, a bit of background on how we came to be here. I spent (way too much) time on many internet sites, looking for recommendations on Parisian restaurants and making my list. We had first read about Spring in either Gourmet or Bon Appetit last year and it kept coming up on many sites as a must do. Daniel Rose, the young American chef, has become one of Paris' most celebrated up and coming chefs. His tiny 16 seat restaurant in the 9th is now one of the hardest tables to get. We decided to reserve our place back in March to ensure we got to experience his cuisine and are we ever thrilled we looked that far ahead! (This was the only thing we committed to in our 15 days here because we wanted to keep our options open and not "have" to be anywhere at certain times. It's an indication of how much we wanted to dine here that we were willing to commit ourselves that far ahead of time.)

We took the metro to the Cadet stop on the # 7 line and it is a short walk to the restaurant at 28 rue de la Tour d'Auvergne. There are 4 small tables of 2 on each side of the tiny place and the open kitchen is directly at the back of the restaurant. Daniel welcomed us and we took our seats in anticipations. You have to go to Spring with a sense of openness ~ there is no menu and no choices. Daniel goes to the market everyday and chooses the freshest ingredients which catch his fancy and prepares his meal around them. He has little pots of fresh herbs from which he constantly chooses and adds to his dishes. You can see him taste and season as he goes along and it is so much fun to see a master at work. Everything is prepared in full view of the diners and it is a very fun, informal atmosphere. You can't help but start talking with your neighbours and before too long, it feels like you are dining at a friend's house and you eat whatever he serves you. The only difference is my friends have never served me masterpieces of cuisine like we will eat tonight!

Our charming waitress helps us make a selection for our wine. This is harder than you think since you have no idea what you will be eating, so pairing the wine to the food is kinda hard! She suggests a Vin de Pays du Puy de Dome, L'Arbre Blanc Vielles Vignes 2005 and Daniel comes over to pour it for us to taste. The wine is very nice, with a little peppery note on the finish. Although Denis doesn't drink wine on a regular basis (like I do!), he really enjoys the taste of the wine and drinks more of it with his meal than he usually does (unfortunately for me).

We begin with a wonderful soup of petit pois, served with a poached egg carefully spooned on top and a giant grilled gamba (shrimp) surrounding the egg. (This is where I wish I was a food writer and had more ways to describe what we ate last night. I fear you will be reading the words delicious, unbelievable, fantastic many more times in the next few paragraphs.)

The soup is deliciously (see, I warned you!) creamy and the runny yolk dissolves into the broth and melds wonderfully. The meaty shrimp provides a nice contrast and before we know it, we have spooned the last drops from our plates. Daniel uses a mix of ingredients that you wouldn't think of putting together, but which somehow work perfectly together and create a blend of taste and sensation that makes our mouths very happy.

Our next course is a small portion of sea bass, poached and topped with fava beans, dill, grapefruit and a lemon emulsion. Again, an explosion of flavours which make our taste buds dance ~ sweet, sour, creamy, crunchy ~ it just all works together so well. By this time, we are oohing and aaahhing with our dining neighbours, who are from Australia and who also booked their reservations back in March. The food is so good, you don't want it to end but at the same time, you can't wait to see what is coming next.

Well, next is sliced duck breast, served with tiny wild asparagus, slivers of artichokes and wonderful little roasted potatoes. The duck is sliced thick and served beautifully rare. The meat melts in our mouths and the wine goes so well with it, I am almost swooning with delight. By this time, you really feel like you are having dinner with friends and everyone is busy eating and talking, laughing and enjoying every incredible bite.

Dessert is a thin buckwheat pancake served over fresh raspberries with an intense lemon emulsion and a small spoonful of chocolate ganache. OMG, I have died and gone to heaven. We savour every bite slowly and when it is gone, well, that's OK, because Daniel brings us little glasses of fresh strawberries topped with a blend of fermented milk from Normandie and more strawberries. Oh, and in case there's not enough perfection going on there, there are little nuggets of homemade peanut brittle thrown in for crunchiness amid the smoothness of the dish. I guess Daniel made too much brittle because he then serves everyone a little dish of it, it is still slightly warm and the perfect end to our perfect meal.

The restaurant starts to empty out and soon there are only 6 diners left, us, our new Australian friends and a couple from Paris. We all move closer together and the Parisian man tells us that he took a cooking class with Daniel on Saturday. There were 5 lucky people innolved, it lasted over 7 hours, and it was an experience he will never forget. The ingredients were all layed out on the table when they arrived, but Daniel had not yet decided what they would make. He said it was so much fun and very informal (a word I've used before and which I think describes this young man to perfection ~ he clearly loves what he is doing and just wants everyone to enjoy their meals in a fun, very non-stuffy atmosphere.) and about halfway through, the bottles of wine started coming out and they made and enjoyed an incredible meal.

We talked about how Daniel has become so very well known on the international cuisine scene and has kept his modestness (if there is such a word). He has been invited to participate in Iron Chef America twice and has declined both times, mostly because he would have to close his beloved restaurant while he flew to the States and filmed the show. He has also been courted by some of the most famous Parisian restaurant conglomerates but chooses to stay with his perfect tiny restaurant, making people into very happy diners every night. We all said that one day, we will be able to say that we ate at the restaurant of one of the world's most famous chef and we can say we knew him then. We spoke to Daniel for a few minutes before we left and I told him I was blogging on Slow Travel (he had his mac out and looked up the address right then and there). He was gracious enough to sign a wine list for me, as well as to write down what we ate so I could describe the dishes accurately. I told him I would sell it on Ebay when he becomes world famous!


Dinner was an amazing 135 euros. I'm sure we could have paid 3 or 4 times that at one of the higher end restaurants in Paris and not had the same experience and unbelievable food we did last night. It was after 1 a.m. when we left Spring and we knew that we had just experienced a once in a lifetime event. Almost 5 hours of food bliss and watching a young artist at work, someone who so clearly loves what he is doing and is dedicated to ensuring he always gives his diners his very best.

Make sure you come to Spring if you ever have the chance to, it was the highlight of our week so far!


Comments (2)

Debbie Burns:

Oh Joanne,

I am so enjoying reading your blog, you may not be a "food writer" per se BUT you can definitely write about food. I'm sitting here reading and salivating...and wondering what is for lunch.

lisa rose:

i really enjoyed your blog. i could taste what you described, and everything was in such glowing terms.i have eaten at spring more then a few times and it continues to improve everytime.

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