CAFE CULTURE – MUST DINE – SPRING
We can reserve! It is well worth the begging to dine at Spring, located on a one way alley on Rue Bailleul, even if your driver needs to back in reverse down the petite alley; easier yet – walk from Le Meurice. Menu is at the whim of the market and American chef Danny Rose.
Two dining floors, open kitchen on the upper level allows you to watch the four cooks manage a multiple course menu in the kitchen of the charming 17th century building. Downstairs, not in the cellar, where you can start with cocktails, the lower level tables offer a bit more privacy in a vaulted stone room.
My six course meal served at a tiny bar in the lower level was very impressive: delicate salted radishes, mouth size crab bites combined with dry cherry and toasted buckwheat and grapefruit nibbles, asparagus with oyster roe beurre blanc, accompanied by breaded and steamed oysters, a delightful contrast. Filet of sole and fingerlings roasted over smoked wood, perched on a bed of fava beans floating in a foamy cockles emulsion, roasted free range pigeon with a bite of morel infused foie gras. Followed by the always yummy French cheese tasting and triple sorbet treats for dessert. Each course is just enough of a yummy serving, not too much food, it was all DIVINE! The small bar seating was perfect as the wait staff became my confidants and shared interesting wines as well. Make friends in new places, always helpful!
Run to Spring!
I must say, all through London and Paris, I was encouraged to dine on in season asparagus and pigeon. Initially, at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, how can one refuse a very charming French waiter: Pigeon, oh of course, you must enjoy it! They are free range, grain fed, very healthy! One chef told me the feathers were plucked to prevent flying – the anti foie gras California government would cluck over this travesty.
I indulged and am now on the eternal hunt for gourmet pigeon, although I am certain it will not be a city pigeon.
One of the most spectacular dining venues in London, the 17th Century Napoleon Cellar provides abundant space for a reception or private dinner, with a separate tasting room for pre-dinner aperitifs. Established in 1698, Berry Bros. continues to trade from the St. James Street shop today, still family owned and run. During the past three centuries, many famous visitors have passed through Berry Bros. doors, from Lord Byron to the Aga Khan. Little has changed in the charming shop which sits in the heart of London; you too can sip whiskey or wine here in this venerable establishment. Berry Bros. offers tastings of their peerless selection of wines and whiskeys – combined with a paired lunch or dinner, nothing compares to Berry Bros.
Two ancient underground cellars: the Napoleon and the Pickering have vaulted ceilings in honey colored brick. Louis Napoleon, nephew of Bonaparte and later to become the Emperor Napoleon III held clandestine meetings here as he plotted his rise to power. Ghosts rarely disturb the guests.
The Townhouse is tucked away behind Berry’s shop in London’s smallest public square Pickering Place. At one time it was a venue for bear baiting and cock fighting. Several beautifully furnished cozy rooms are available for private tastings and seasonal meals.
My favorite London driver, Neville, whispers that my clients need to be pried from Berry Bros., unforgettable hospitality and charm. Cheers!
Private tastings and dining by request. Dandy Attire optional.