In this week's LA Weekly review, critic Besha Rodell is back to discuss the upscale French fare at Spring, Tony Esnault and Yassmin Sarmadi's gorgeous restaurant in the atrium of the Douglas Building Downtown. In a break from what has become the standard LA restaurant, the Spring doesn't have cooks with beards or tattoos, "hip-hop blast[ing] from the sound system," or the standard "'small plates meant for sharing' speech issu[ing] forth from the mouth of your server."
That is to say, this is a classic French restaurant where "technique is the backbone:"
Generally, however, Esnault is a worthy cheerleader for the kind of cooking it takes a career to master. How nice to have a piece of duck cooked exactly right, next to a line of geometrically arranged baby turnips and radishes that have seen the knife work of a real professional. How wonderful to have the sauce over that duck be glassy but not sticky, meaty but tart. Real sauce! No gimmicks! There's no faking such things. [LAW]
B-Rod does have serious concerns for Spring though:
But I worry for the restaurant, which currently does not have the crush of customers it probably deserves. I worry that the food and the atmosphere that Esnault and Sarmadi are offering, while refreshingly different from much of what's new and fashionable, are not what downtown L.A. is pining for at this juncture. It must have been a massively expensive project — that gorgeous, gleaming kitchen, that impeccably designed dining room. Unless the city decides that a return to elegance and serious French dining is what we're missing, I fear that Spring will sink under the weight of its own costly ambition. [LAW]
Ultimately, she concludes "Spring delivers beautiful food in a beautiful setting, with an underpinning of technique that's uncommon these days," and awards it three stars out of five.
257 S. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA