Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Spring Food & Wine - fresh and delicious

There are often locations where restaurants struggle to find a home.  The corner of Felix Street and Mary Street in the CBD is just such a spot.  It's a great little location right down in the thick of things between Urbane and the hub that is the Eagle Street precinct and is at the base of the Felix Apartments. The only problem is that restaurants that have used this location have not lasted too long.  My first memory of a restaurant at this location was Vroom, then came Mediterranean restaurant Barolo and then more recently Spring.

Indeed it even took Spring a little while to find its feet in this Felix Street location, with the original concept being a 'compact emporium' with a market table, bistro, cooking school and ever changing store.  Some of these initial concepts are no longer present but Spring has retained a lovely little bistro as well as the cooking school.  Then there was the much publicised move of 2012 young chef of the year Kym Machin's move from Urbane to Spring, which perhaps not surprisingly didn't last too long.

Spring was originally conceived by Sarah Hancock and opened in 2011 and is now starting to find its feet and form an identity within the Brisbane dining scene.  Executive chef Emlyn Torrington has put together a menu that celebrates the changing seasons and reflects fresh food from Australia's finest farms and vineyards   Spring is also starting to translate that identity and success into recognition by picking up a chefs hat in the Australian Good Food Guide.

Originally Spring was open early in the day for breakfast and lunch but more recently has developed a dinner menu and is open for dinner most nights.  On this particular visit I went with a work buddy for much needed lunch after a really busy week at work.  The lunchtime menu at Spring has a great array of options for entree, mains and dessert as well as nice range of sandwiches and cheaper 'spring favourites' for those who don't want a full meal.

My lunch buddy MK was not feeling particularly hungry today and started off with the pumpkin and coconut soup.  The soup came in a very large bowl and was a thick and velvety and had a wonderfully deep orange colour which was offset by a pinch of garnish, with a little imagination you could see a pumpkin on a plate.  Interestingly enough, the flavour of the pumpkin was very subtle with the predominant flavour being the coconut and a little hint of heat.  It was an interesting juxtaposition with the mismatch in the colour and flavour but was quite delicious.

I was having a hard time in choosing my entree and after seriously considering the crab chowder ended up going for the seared scallops with cauliflower, squid, chilli and ginger.  I was expecting the fairly traditional presentation for scallops and was pleasantly surprised by the dish that was placed in front of me.  There was a medley of scallops, calamari and crispy shallots on a bed of cauliflower puree and surrounded by a splash of squid ink.  The plate looked beautiful but what really captured my attention was the smell emanating from the plate, it was mouth watering.  The scallops were well cooked, but could have had just a little more caramelisation but the calamari was masterfully cooked and delicious.  The seasoning on this plate was so perfectly balanced that it almost brought tears to the eyes and the flavours were exquisite, especially combining the creamy puree with the squid ink.  This was just a wonderful dish.  MK actually opted for this dish as her main and also agreed that it was wonderful.

I was really impressed with the options available for main but had no hesitation in selecting the Moya Valley Farm chicken breast with wild mushrooms and garlic.  I think chicken is an under appreciated protein on menus and from previous experience can be simply amazing when done well with good produce.  I was originally taken aback by the helter-skelter plate of food that was put in front of me but after a few seconds of reflection saw the beauty and symmetry on the plate.  I was also taken aback by the beautiful smell permeating from the plate, it literally left me salivating.  Phew, the flavours on the plate were amazing and the chicken was cooked to perfection.  There was an earthy flavour coming from the expertly seasoned mushrooms, but the sauce - Oh My Gosh, the sauce was to die for.  It was creamy and sweet and a perfect contrast to the earthy mushrooms and was such a perfect match for the moist chicken.  As a bonus there was crunchy chicken skin that tasted amazing.  I felt generous and cut off some of the chicken for MK to try and I could tell she was instantly jealous of my lunch!

MK decided that she was not going to have any dessert, but that was no problem for me, I was definitely going for the chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and peanut brittle.  I am super happy that I decided on this because this fondant was amazing!  Super rich dark chocolate fondant perfectly cooked so that it was just able to stand up but oozed beautifully when I cut into it.  It was warm and gooey and perfect.  There was also something special about the vanilla ice cream that came with the dessert, it was perhaps the creamiest ice cream I have ever had and had an intense vanilla flavour.  I really enjoyed eating each of these components and it wasn't until the end that I realised that I had not mixed the two components together.  I think I didn't want to spoil each of the flavours but upon reflection I think it would have taken this dessert to another world by combining.  I might have to go back soon to test this theory!

The best thing about our visit to Spring was how far it exceeded my expectations.  I had been to Spring before for lunch as a work function and had been less than impressed with the menu and the quality of the food that was produced on the day.  At that time it almost felt like 'pub' food and that was the general consensus from about 10 of us.  Not on this visit, the menu was exciting with lots of options and the flavours were simply stunning with all dishes perfectly cooked.

The restaurant was not super packed but was busy and had a good little vibe happening.  We had a mixed service though, with some of the wait staff being really friendly and helpful, but a couple seemed distracted and it felt like they didn't want to be there.  I'm not sure if this was just the day or a broader problem.  The restaurant itself is beautiful with lots of interesting art on display along with a couple of open bars and a wall of glass that separates the cooking school from the restaurant.

Given my recent experience at Spring I am going to say that the new Executive Chef Emlyn Torrington has been a breath of fresh air that has injected a real boost to Spring.  I really love what has happened to the menu and I really can't talk highly enough of the quality of the food.  It's even got me thinking that a visit to the cooking school might be in order, especially if Emlyn was to show me how to cook that chicken dish!


The fondant just oozed out a lovely gooey chocolate - yum!
MK had some crusty toast with her soup and there was a funky handcrafted butter that came with it
The cooking school is right next door - no one was learning during our lunch :(
Really light clean lines throughout the restaurant 
It filled up quick!  you can see the bar areas spread out across Spring
I just love the art spread throughout 

Spring on UrbanspoonSpring Food & Wine
Spring on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

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