A lobster dish at L’Ardoise Gourmande. Spring is specializing in lobster rolls for the summer.
This past week I have been back to a couple of places whose praises I’ve sung in the past: Spring and L’Ardoise Gourmande. It’s a fairly well-known fact that Spring is in the throes of major changes. Chef Daniel Rose has pitched his cap at a much bigger place, a lot nearer the Seine, and has been soft-peddling since the end of January while he gets to grips with French red tape. He closed up his ninth arrondissement place and set about taking care of the new one, setting a June opening date. Well, June has come and gone, and we are no nearer to seeing Spring near the Seine. He also has plans to open up a grocery store before the end of the year.
The good news is that the original Spring is open for business again, he’s taking reservations, and on Saturdays he’s doing lobster sandwiches, goose fat fries and cheapish wine all day. Customers are asked to reserve their lobsters rather than a table, which we did, and we got to sit down the moment we arrived. My date was an East Coast American for whom lobster sandwiches (more correctly termed “rolls,” as I Iearned) are not a novelty but must-have fast food.
Rose, who seemed to be on first-name terms with most of the lunchers, served his version of the lobster roll on a sliced-open baguette, with the glistening claw meat sitting atop the rest of the lobster mixed into a mayonnaise that also contained crunchy celery and other bits and pieces. It was delicious, period. The French fries, each batch fried up just as the sandwich was ready to be carried the very short distance to your table, were given a superbly original touch, with a zing of orange and lime zest micro-planed on to the very hot fries, releasing just enough essential oil to get me sitting up straight to attention with a silly grin on my face.
That was about it. Some people got a salad of green beans and tomatoes. And there were strawberries – perfect, big, fat, ripe and strawberry-tasting strawberries for dessert, along with a wonderfully tart lemon cream topped with Chantilly and a chocolate verrine. A couple or three glasses of a very welcome Chablis on a warm summer’s day, and the check for two came to €92.
My date for dinner at L’Ardoise Gourmande was very happy with the decor and the generally civilized atmosphere. The meal, which included a tasting dish of half a dozen starters, was every bit as good as the last time, if not better. Top marks for the foie gras. The staff is efficient and helpful, and the street is quiet: doors and windows were open to let in the evening coolness, but we were never disturbed by the roar of passing traffic. I’ll be going back.
I also tried to go back to Frenchie without booking – a joke. Lunch is probably easier than dinner, but count on a week’s wait for an evening booking if you want to give this new addition to the Paris dining scene a whirl (and you should).
Cross-Channel aside: Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck in Bray, England, voted second-best only to Spain’s El Bulli in the past couple of years, launches a new tasting menu today, with an Alice in Wonderland theme. Think Mock Turtle Soup in a teabag, and a sorbet that bursts into flame when the waiter clicks his fingers. Read all about it here.
Spring: 28, rue de la Tour d’Auvergne, 75009 Paris. Métro: Pigalle. Tel.: 01 45 96 05 72. Open Wednesday-Friday for dinner only, Saturday from noon until the lobster is gone. Fixed-price dinner menu: €48*.
L’Ardoise Gourmande: 12, rue de Belzunce, 75010 Paris. Tel : 01 48 78 40 03. Métro: Gare du Nord. Fixed-price menu: €22 (two courses, includes wine or water and coffee) . A la carte: around €45*. Open Monday-Friday lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner, Sunday for brunch and dinner.
* three courses, not including wine
© 2009 Paris Update
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