Spring is a new French restaurant tucked away at one of the most bland intersections in Downtown Los Angeles. There is not much happening at the corners of Spring and Third Streets. Hidden inside the historic Douglas Building, Spring could be easily overlooked, but once you get inside you discover that the building’s courtyard has been transformed into an atrium dining room. There is a large fountain and olive trees in the center of the room, and more important, a massive three-sided open kitchen. That is where you can watch hottie Chef Tony Esnault in action. Esnault, who has multiple Michelin stars to his name, brought Church & State to DTLA’s Arts District years ago.
Three friends and I dined at Spring this past weekend. The service was great. We started off with a round of the restaurant’s signature cocktails as we looked over the menu. Spring serves up what’s described as seasonal and lighter food from the Mediterranean region of Southern France. One of the people in our group is not an adventurous eater and was a bit intimidated by the menu. He searched for the beef options on the menu, but instead found duck, rabbit and lamb dishes. He ended up ordering fish, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
One of the highlights of the dinner was the Escargot Provencal ($15) appetizer. It was wild Burgundy snails served with tomato and greens topped with fennel, garlic and persillade. Unlike traditional escargot, the snails were not served in shells filled with garlic butter. It was a light, clean way to prepare escargot. The Salade Verte ($10) was a massive garden of greens served with a delicious preserved lemon vinaigrette. Again, another light clean offering.
Okay, remember my picky friend who ordered the fish? At the recommendation of the server, he ordered the Cabillaud ($30). It was slowly cooked cod with artichoke, radish, parsley and barigoule jus. It was beautifully presented and had the flavor to match.
I went for the Risotto au Safran ($18), carnaroli rice, saffron, broccolini, Parmesan reggiano and extra virgin olive oil. I liked it, but I wish I would have ordered something more daring like my other friend who got the Agneau au Sautoir ($29). It was lamb sirloin served with couscous, rutabaga, scallion, raisin, mint and harissa. Wow!
Besides the great service, the restaurant also has a great sommelier. The friend who ordered the lamb could not find a wine to pair with it on the menu, so the sommelier went off the menu and brought out a glass of (what was described as) delicious red wine (I didn’t get to taste it). Get this… the people dining next to us ordered a bottle of wine, but only finished about half of it before they had to rush out (to a show or something) so they passed it over to us. SCORE! You gotta love free wine, right?
We were stuffed, but we didn’t want to miss out on some spectacular dessert. We asked the server to bring out his favorite. It was the Chocolat Monegasque ($11), a creation of bittersweet chocolate ganache, lemon honey sorbet, citrus vinaigrette, chocolate crumble and praline. The four of us cleared that dessert plate in seconds.
While we were winding down the night, the restaurant owner, Yassmin Sarmadi stopped by our table along with the hottie chef (who happens to be her husband). I think we scared him a bit, as he ran off rather quickly. She stayed awhile and answered questions about the restaurant, the food, etc. It was a very nice night. We had a really good meal with really good service. Next time we go to Spring, we want to sit at the chef’s counter looking into the kitchen. Not only do you get to see the food being prepared, you get to stare at the hottie chef without being so obvious. If you are looking for a special occasion restaurant, don’t overlook Spring. They are open for lunch and dinner on Tuesday through Saturday. It is closed on Sundays and Mondays.