this entry is quite long overdue since it has been almost a month when i had dinner at spring restaurant with ryan. we managed to get a groupon for a three course prix-fixe meal at spring restaurant a few months ago ($30 instead of the usual $59) and the groupons were about to expire so we thought it was a good time to try it out since he was in town.
located in wicker park, we had some trouble finding a parking spot at 9 pm on a saturday night. as we entered the restaurant, i was a little confused with the bar/waiting area for a moment because i didn't quite know what to think of it. (p.s. the photos are a lil blurry since the lighting was mostly dim around the restaurant)
the receptionist offered to take our coats (which was nice) and we were seated at our table. the restaurant wasn't full but it was busy. the dining area was more of how i imagined spring restaurant to be. a lil more cozy than their waiting area but i thought the lighting was still too dim. their decor is leaning towards asian simplicity which is quite nice and i liked the atmosphere of the room.
the waiter came by our table and he presented us with their favorites menu (or rather the prix-fixe menu) after we handed our groupons to him.
since i've read about the reviews on yelp, i've pretty much decided on the dishes that i wanted before we even got here which is quite rare for me since i've always have a hard time deciding on what to eat. we placed our orders and ryan ordered a glass of red wine to go with his meal. he ordered a pinot noir since we were both getting seafood for our entree and he prefers red over white wine. he wasn't too thrilled with the first pinot noir he ordered (which was recommended by the waiter) because of the amount of tannins or the body of the wine (i don't really get the wine stuff). basically, it tasted more like a cabernet sauvingnon. so after the first glass, he got a different type of pinot noir from the menu and was much happier with his second selection.
they start us off with a small sip of soup: saffron infused potato soup with chives.
it tasted quite like cream of potato with chives. nothing too special nor did i taste the saffron. but it still had good flavor to it and was a good way to start our meal.
they also served us some crackers with a white bean puree dip with sesame oil.
i personally didn't really like the combination. blame it on the fact that i don't like beans but the flavor that came through was mostly saltiness. i actually preferred the crackers without the white bean dip but even that the crackers were just okay.
appetizer | farm-egg ravioli, with smoked potato, white truffle oil, and hazelnuts
what swayed me to order this dish was maybe because i once watched an iron chef america episode where mario batali made something similar and it looked so decadently delicious and tried my luck with this appetizer.
when i cut into the ravioli, the yolk oozes out coating the other ingredients with its richness. first bite was a tad disappointing. it didn't have the flavors it promised in the description. i thought the whole dish was underseasoned and i could not taste any truffle flavor from the oil. i did like the crunch of the hazelnuts and i could get a small taste of the smokiness of the potato but i wasn't quite happy with my appetizer.
appetizer | braised short-rib dumplings with pickled orange rind and a coriander reduction
ryan had better luck with his appetizer. the flavors of this dish were on point and i loved the pickled orange rind that gave it a lil surprise of light tartness and sweetness to the savoriness of the dish with each bite. good amount of filling and the dumpling skin were at the right thickness. but i had to admit the braised short rib in one of the dumplings i tried (i had two since we exchanged appetizers) was overdone and a tad dry. i think ryan had one of those too.
entree | maine sea scallops, with roasted mushrooms, braised oxtail, and sweet soy
after my lackluster appetizer, i was hoping for an entree that would make up for the first dish. and i was glad this dish did. the scallops were really fresh and cooked beautifully - succulent with its natural sweetness which is echoed in the braised oxtail in sweet soy and roasted mushroom. all my favorite ingredients on a single plate. the braised oxtail is fork tender and everything pairs so well on this dish..
only thing that they could have done better is the sear of the scallops. while the sear looks good but i think only one had a really good crust on the scallop. another thing that i was missing was something that was texturally different. nonetheless, the overall dish was very tasty.
entree | australian barramundi, with potato gnocchi, cilantro pesto, and citrus
this entree was fantastic. the barramundi was seared, seasoned and cooked perfectly. it had a really good crust that was crispy and the fish itself was succulent. the yummy fish was on a bed of fluffy potato gnocchi tossed in cilantro pesto and string beans. the string beans were cooked all the way through while still retaining that crunch and the potato gnocchi were like little clouds of awesomeness.
i had to stop myself from finishing ryan's dish. it was light, fresh and very satisfying. wished there were more on his plate so there would be more for me! :p
dessert | white-chocolate dome, with strawberries, rhubarb, and rosewater
a very pretty plate with different textures and flavors. i expected something too sweet but it actually turned out not bad. the white chocolate dome had the texture of a marshmallow and an ice cream and it had a filling inside. it was creamy and pretty good. and the brittle was slightly salty which is to counter the sweetness of the other elements on the plate which i thought was clever.
the overall dessert was okay - i liked the pairing of the plum and the strawberries. one of the better white chocolate desserts i've had since a lot of white chocolate desserts tend to be oversweetened.
dessert | five spice panna cotta, brioche doughnut
i wasn't a fan of this dessert. five spice panna cotta? umm... no thanks. when i tried a bite, the first thing that came to my head was chinese roast duck that i would get from argyle.. i don't know if it is a good thing when it reminds me of a savory dish when i am eating dessert. ryan said that he grew to like the dessert as he had more spoonfuls of the panna cotta but he did particularly enjoy the doughnut which melted in his mouth with the chocolate/caramel sauce at the bottom.
our dinner eventually ended up being pretty expensive. with the groupon, we still spent over $100 (including the cost of groupon) for the whole dinner. both of us are usually willing to spend a little more for a good dinner but i think i was quite unhappy with the food in general (minus the entrees which were great) so i thought it wasn't quite worth it. i would rather much spend the same amount of money at maybe girl & the goat.
will i return to spring restaurant anytime soon? probably not.
disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others