Spring this past weekend
After reading numerous favorable reviews on this restaurant we gave it a whirl this past weekend. I think the meal I had at Spring ranks in the top ten of the best meals I have ever had and by far the best food I've had in the city in quite some time.
For an appetizer, I ordered a scallop and potatoe "ravioli". The scallop was perfectly seared and sliced into strips. That was layered between very thinly sliced fried slices of potato which were slightly crispy. It was prepared with a black truffle reduction - the mushrooms were pefectly done. I think this is the best appetizer I've ever eaten. I had an urge to lick the plate when I was done! The mixture of textures were perfect. Hubby had short rib dumplings (potstickers). He said he didn't think he could eat potstickers anywhere else after having those.
For an entree, I ordered Baramundi. I've never had this kind of fish before but it was similar, though richer than monkfish. It was super tender and very flavorful. It was served over parmesean gnocchi in a lobster based broth. The piece of fish was quite large and after devouring the appetizer it was more than I could eat (though that didn't deter me from trying a dessert). Hubby had Alaskan King Salmon served over toasted sesame risotto. He said his fish was excellent and he thought the crunchiness of the risotto was really interesting.
For dessert we shared coconut creame panna cotta with blackberries. It was not too-sweet and very creamy. The blackberries were the juciest and sweetest I've had in quite some time. I also had sweet rice flavored pu-erh tea which was very good.
The service was excellent. Our waiter was very knowledgable about all of their dishes and he was very attentive.
Overall, the experience was excellent. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for something "new" or looking for a fine dining experience.
I too recently enjoyed an excellent meal at Spring, and I was very happy to see that they were on top of their game. For those looking for upscale, more creative seafood options than you'd find at a Joe's, Shaw's or the like, I agree that Spring is a fantastic choice. Here's what I said on LTHForum about my recent visit:
A number of dishes really stood out. I loved the Spiced Yellowfin Tuna Tartare -- sure, we've all had tuna tartare a thousand times, but the flavors here were just perfect, a large cone-shaped tuna tartare garnished with a very light citrus-curry dressing (which did not mask the taste of the tuna) and some cucumber and avocado. To me, there's nothing worse than a tuna tartare where the sauce/flavoring overly dominates the tuna -- not at all the case here.
The short rib dumplings were another big hit -- pillow-soft dumplings filled with tender short rib, served in a surprisingly spicy (but not too so) and very flavorful hot and sour broth. It was served with some shaved coconut and Thai basil -- the basil added a nice cooling effect to the spicy broth.
The braised pork belly with soba noodles, Chinese long beans and hoisin was very flavorful. I would have preferred the pork belly seared (usually my favorite preparation) and maybe a little less hoisin flavor, but still a very nice dish.
All of the entrees I tasted were excellent, but two really stood out. My favorite was definitely the Atlantic Halibut, which was seared and roasted and served with heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese, a large slice of shaved fennel and smoked garlic puree. The garlic puree was very subtle, and the flavors of the tomatoes, fennel and burrata cheese (so soft and slightly melting) complemented the dish so well. I can't recall any seafood dish in recent memory that was even close to being this good -- the flavors just jumped off of the plate with the perfectly cooked fish.
Almost as good as the halibut was the Arctic Char, again beautifully seared and roasted and served atop a creamy parmesan risotto, artichokes, fennel and a caper-chive emulsion. Again, a fantastic combination of flavors -- the emulsion added the perfect salt element to the dish -- which worked so well with the Char.
I tasted the Pacific Black Cod which came with a Chinese fermented black bean-sake glaze, grilled hearts of palm and a Yuzu sauce, and while I did not love it as I did the halibut and char, I thought the fish was cooked perfectly and the slightly sweet glaze worked very well with the sour Yuzu.
Desserts did not let down either. The Yuzu Merinque Bars were a Yuzu curd, topped with meringue, and sitting atop black pepper shortbread. This was served with a large shot glass of black raspberry-verbena soda. Simply put: fantastic. The bars themselves were fantastic, with the slight peppery taste in the shortbread working so well with the tart Yuzu curd. The soda was so refreshing and flavorful and a great paring for the Yuzu.
If the Yuzu was 1A, the Tahitian Vanilla Bean & Buttermilk Panna Cotta topped with blueberry gelee served with miniature cinnamon cake donuts was 1B. Great flavors -- every spoon of the creamy panna cotta mixed with so well with the slightly chunky blueberry gelee. Perhaps the panna cotta was a bit too dense, but I'm hardly complaining. The miniature donuts were an excellent match, adding a little crunch to the dish and I always like the addition of a little cinnamon flavor to blueberries.
Spring started with an amuse and ended with one (of sorts) -- a shot glass-sized portion of a rich hot chocolate. We had not ordered any chocolate desserts so this was the perfect finish, and the chocolate flavor was so rich and not too sweet.
All in all, a wonderful meal with outstanding service in a conversation-friendly dining room. And on this evening, it rivaled many if not most of the higher-end places in town. If you're looking for a seafood-leaning menu with creative presentations, I doubt you could do better in Chicago.