I probably would never have treated myself to such an extravagant meal had it not been for my very good friend, Alana, who is also a connoisseur of fine cuisine and has a palate that would challenge most of the well-known food critics out there (whomever they are). We wanted to have a girls’ dinner out and wanted something that screamed « indulgence » but did not want to skimp on food quality. Not an easy feat with my dairy intolerance. so when I called up Spring and asked them if they could accommodate someone with a dairy allergy, and they said « oui » I squeaked with such joy, Alana told me I sounded like I had won the lottery. I NEVER would have EVER thought that such a posh restaurant would be willing to modify their whole menu just so I could eat there. (I later found out one of the reasons why they were so willing to accommodate).
We arrived at Spring for our lucky reservation (someone had canceled and thus we snagged their spot with glee), at the address on a tiny old street in the 1st arrondissement. We rang the bell for entry. It felt like we were being invited almost into someone else’s home. We caught a glimpse of the chef, Daniel Rose, heading back to the kitchen. We didn’t think to ask for a photo with him then, plus he was busy, but we regretted it later when he left before we remembered to do so. Nonetheless we were about to « meet » him via his cuisine.
We were sat at a little table in the back of the sous-sol, next to the coat rack, (the last spot to be had) but we didn’t care, our entire focus was on what we were about to taste, and the giddy feeling of living dangerously (aka : spending way too much on a dinner). We took our daring to the max and asked for the « pairing » of wine with the meal : wines selected to compliment perfectly the flavors of each course. So for each course we would have a new glass of wine to enhance the dish.
The meal began with an aperitif of champagne served chilled with a small « mise en bouche » of razor clams seasoned with cayenne pepper and butter (so sadly I didn’t ge that dish, I had a marinated radish dish instead. There was also a celery purée garnished with a slice of pear, and a slice of compté cheese (again which was omitted on mine). A basket of buckwheat bread was placed on the table. We tried our best to make the little mise en bouche last long enough for the champagne flute to empty some.
The next dish came with a pouilly fumé (my favorite wine) and a scallops dish garnished with finely chopped anchovies and artichokes, asperegus spear tips and seasoned with mint. It was divine. I even devoured (very slowly) the anchovies, a food I normally avoid like the plague! The pouilly fumé was perfect, crisp, and perfect. Did I say perfect??? I meant perfect. Sadly I forgot to write down which one it was. But just so you know, it was perfect.
okay! I’ll stop.
On to the next course : Served with a red Spanish wine, Louro, of Godello vines… It gave the pouilly fumé quite a challenge. The dish was red mullet fish (a full flavored fish from the Mediterranean sea) with carrots, grapefruit and kumquat seasoned with ginger and garnished with a little deep fried onion to add a tiny crunch. Alana had a different dish (with dairy) of Sole with a foie gras sauce. I was slightly jealous. I gotta say. But not for long. I was too busy enjoying my red mullet.
By this time, I had quite forgotten what number dish we were on, and was even (pleasantly) surprised to be reminded that the main dish was about to be served! A red Italian wine from the 6 Mura vineyards espoused perfectly the beautiful, luscious piece of filet mignon steak with a bone marrow sauce and garnished with slightly steamed chard greens. Everything melted in our mouths. It was pure pleasure to go from a sip of that wine to a bite of that steak.
And then, there was the dessert…
I was served thyme infused pears garnished with roasted almonds and raisins along with a coriander sorbet that had me practically squeaking with delight. Alana was served a lemon meringue tarte accompanied with a coconut mousse. I have to say, I was really a bit envious of her lemon tarte. The course was paired with a Montbazillac wine. A white wine that is sweet yet bold in flavor, it enhanced this sweet finish to our meal with a smoothness that was rather dreamy. And, I thought it was just too good an opportunity to pass up, so I took a deep breathe, psychologically braced myself for stomach pain and tasted a few bites of Alana’s dessert. Those few mouthfuls married with the flavor of the wine, made me truly understand in one full instant, the entirety of the « pairing ». It was an explosion of flavor on my tongue. It was so good I could almost have weeped.
So… wanna know why they were so willing to accomodate my dairy issues??? Well, it turns out (this is what our server told us) that Daniel Rose has a dairy AND gluten allergy. And he still has the amazing talent and ability to marry flavors like he does. RESPECT.
After a café and a deep sigh of content, we decided we were thrilled from our adventure into fine cuisine, and were not ready to leave this cozy place of wonder. We notivced some other patrons being allowed down to an even lower level where we learned was the wine and cheese cellar. We asked if we could also go visit it, and were graciously led by our waitress through the now empty dinging room.
Visiting the cave was a pure delight and the perfect way to end an amazing meal, to chat and laugh with the staff in that most amazing treasure trove. The people who work at Spring have a profound passion for the place where they work and I think that makes all the difference to the experience of the meal. Meal. …It isn’t a very elegant word to use for what transpired that night. It wasn’t a meal. It was a theater of flavor. And I am so glad I allowed myself the indulgence. It will probably be a once in a lifetime experience for me, perhaps twice… you never know. But it was beyond worth it, and sharing it with such an amazing friend made it as perfect as a freshly chilled glass of pouilly fumé.
6 Rue Bailleul, 75001 Paris
Reservations are necessary : 01 45 96 05 72