THE SOUTH OF FRANCE COMES DTLA
When Chef Tony Esnault took over the kitchen at Church & State, he brought back to life a once vibrant and beloved restaurant. But when he and his wife Yassmin Sarmadi, who also owns Church & State, opened Spring in downtown the concept and vision was there’s from the get-go.
When I first walked into the Douglas Building on Spring Street I was stunned by the restaurant’s beautiful atrium dining room under a glass and steel roof. There’s even a Pepper tree inside as well as an open kitchen where fresh seafood and local ingredients are a staple of Chef Esnault’s cuisine.
“The simplest way to describe the culinary difference between the two restaurants is to say that, while Church & State’s classic bistro fare is driven by the use of butter, the backbone of Spring’s lighter fare is olive oil,” says Esnault. “Ultimately, bringing the cuisine of Southern France to Southern California is a logical one.”
Dining at Spring you make think that wine will be the way to go, after all, wine with French food just makes so much sense, but the cocktail menu, while short, is impressive. I give the bar big props for having the classic Martinez on the menu (it’s my favorite gin drink), as well as the bourbon-based Paper Plane and the ever-popular Boulevardier, which is a whiskey version of the Negroni. Those are all solid drinks.
Now that you have a fine libation in hand, start with the Soupe de Homard—a delicious lobster and chestnut soup with vegetable paysanne, chives and cognac. This soup is so rich and flavorful. It is truly spectacular.
The Pates Au Civet De Lapin builds on the greatness of the lobster soup and keeps your dining experience soaring. The dish of strozzapretti pasta, red wine braised rabbit, bacon, mushrooms and fine herbs is hearty and heavenly all at the same time. The combination of rabbit and bacon is a winner.
But things only get better when you order the Magret de Canard—maple leaf duck breast with honey spiced skin, salsify, radish, turnip and huckleberries. The duck is so succulent and savory. This is when you realize that dining at Spring is a pretty special treat and Chef Esnault is really taking you on a journey if not to the South of France at least to sensory overload where you will appreciate every rich and delicious bite.
Take your meal up a notch with the Selle de Chevreuil—venison fillet, parsnip purée, celeriac, beet, pear, sauce poivrade. Pair this with a glass of red wine and your taste buds will soar to new heights as all the ingredients unite to come to life in a way that highlights the venison, which is the shining star of the dish.
Definitely save room for dessert as the Chocolate Monegasque with bittersweet chocolate ganache, praline, chocolate crumble and lemon honey sorbet, along with the Poire—poached pear, caramelized pecan, streusel, pear sorbet, pecan and bourbon cream—are sensational. There’s a delicate fine touch to make these desserts not just decadent treats but exclamation points on the ending of an outstanding dining experience.
Spring offers a beautiful setting, first rate cocktails and fine French fare. There really isn’t more you can ask for when dining out. Understated, less rowdy and perhaps more refined than Church & State, which I’m a big fan of, Spring offers an experience you wish won’t end as it’s so comfortable and cozy and just the respite we all so need.
Spring is located at 257 S. Spring Street. Closed Mondays. Open for brunch on Sundays. Call 213-372-5189.
Story and some photography by Jose Martinez
Photography courtesy Of: Spring