I’m a New Yorker, so I know that no matter where I am, if people are lining up to eat, it probably won’t be that long until I’m lining up to eat there, too.
And so it was that while I was living in Paris this summer, I lined up to eat at Spring. Except, happily, all the waiting was done while I was asleep. Every Saturday, Daniel Rose turns, or I should say turned (I’ll explain later) his tiny Montmartre outpost, known for its never-the-same-twice menu, into a one-trick pony: lobster sandwiches, goose fat fries, and Champagne.
Thanks to a very Paris-savvy friend and eating partner who informed me that Spring is the place the Paris chefs go to eat and hang out after work, I checked out its website. Sparse, just like the location. It contains only a blog and a video camera of the restaurant and its kitchen. So I called. It was Friday night. Yes, I could still reserve a lobster for tomorrow. So, I condemned two little beasts to the pot, briefly felt bad about it (I had singlehandedly murdered 30 or so crabs with a cleaver at culinary school that week), and then fell soundly asleep.
Soon, our sandwiches arrived. The chunks of just-cooked, not-at-all-rubbery lobster, and I mean a whole lobster’s worth, were enrobed in this light, sheer mayonnaise-based sauce, punctuated with chives and celery and orange juice and zest. It was stuffed brimmingly into a kind of white-wheat baguette. It was genius. There was none of the over-mayoed heaviness of a traditional lobster roll, and the orange accentuated the sweetness of the lobster meat, where traditional lemon in its overzealous tang tends to overpower it. I remember distinctly the feeling of never wanting it to end.
With it came our fries, or should I say frites? Handcut and fried in goose fat, a product I came to adore in cooking school. They were crisp but still had those perfect soft bits that handcut fries tend to have and which I love. They were salted but were also dusted with lime and orange zests. While the orange played up the sweetness of the lobster, the lime cut through the starchiness of the potatoes and the heaviness of the goose fat, all while echoing the lobster roll. It was perfect. Leave it to an American in France to recreate an American classic with such finesse.
And to be eating such elevated food in such a sparse little restaurant, with its glass storefront, farmhouse tables, and hand-scrawled chalkboard was a lesson in French irony. It was a lesson in the unpretentious.
But my favorite parts besides the food? The bathroom, stocked with a shelf of cookbooks for some light reading, and the people who worked there, who sat and chatted with their customers. I wanted to move in.
I just read the Spring blog, and it appears that the lobsters, an “experiment in no-reservation coolness,” have ended for the season, and that Spring is leaving its stronghold in the 18th to reopen in the 1st. I recommend that when it does, you go, and that you beg, beg, beg (as I will) that they restart their lobster program. Definitely worth waiting in line for. Even though, the only one waiting is the lobster!