Daniel Rose’s excellent Paris adventure has all the ingredients of the best-selling expat tale it may someday become: smart kid from Chicago thinks he might be an art dealer or maybe an architect, studies classical Greek in Santa Fe, winds up in Europe, becomes a cooking school rebel and a clandestine cook, spends time in Italy and Japan, gets kicked out of a three-star kitchen, cooks for royalty, finds the internship of a lifetime in Brittany, opens a restaurant in Paris to instant acclaim, becomes the hardest table in town to book, gets dumped by his wife, closes the restaurant at the peak of its popularity, finds true love and— fast forward to this week—opens a new rendition of Spring. It’s the most anticipated opening of the year—and it shows all the signs of enjoying similar success.
So what has Rose changed since the first Spring, besides the physical address? “We want it to be like life,” he says, reprising a favorite line written by one French critic of the first venue—“but we want it to be about just the fun stuff. For instance, when you go to a restaurant with someone you like, and you come out liking them even better.” Fun is spontaneous, and so he champions spontaneous cooking; it’s about enjoying the journey even if you have no clue where it will end up, which Rose says is pretty much his philosophy on life.
And the food? Rose unofficially opened his new place for dinner on July 4th for a scattered collection of friends and admirers, offering a 63€ ($79) menu or a 100€ ($125) chef’s choice menu, which included six wine pairings. We chose the former and it was a four-hour extravaganza, a blend of what Rose calls “flash cooking” and “thoughtful dishes” composed depending on what looks good and the chef’s fancy. On that day, compositions included zucchini flowers with langoustines and red mullet, sea bass with foie gras sprinkled with radish shavings moistened with broth, veal with girolle mushrooms and white currants—to name but a few. Dessert came threefold—peaches bathed in vervain and sprinkled with cocoa shavings, cherries with raw almonds and (our favorite) lemon curd with vanilla bean, whipped cream, and crumbled chocolate biscuits.
Lunch will be a more “modular” affair, and although the menu is still being refined, will likely be a market menu centered around a modern rendition of the 19th century bouillon, “like French ‘pho’,” says Rose, at a highly affordable price (about 25€ ($31) for bouillon with the option to add selected sides—be they lobster rolls or fries).
The new Spring pushes the concept of integrated kitchens as far as it can go: The kitchen is completely open and occupies a quarter of the main floor space. Here, “where you order wine with your food”, there are only 22 reservable seats. Downstairs is a first-come/first-serve wine bar where you order food, tapas-style, with your wine. Another level down is one of the surprises of renovating this venue: an extra cellar, which will be used to store wine as well as hold the occasional tasting.
Spring is scheduled to open on July 15, 2010 (date subject to change; Spring, 6 rue de Bailleul, 75001; open 12-3; dinner from 8 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday; reservations: (011-33) 01-45-96-05-72.
Tina Isaac is Travel + Leisure's Paris correspondent.