While there are some people (ahemMIKEahem) who like to poke fun at my obsession with Yelp, it was that research and respect for the opinion of others that led me to Spring.
Though we had to cancel our Saturday night reservation because of weather, we were easily accomodated on Sunday night. I say easily because the place was only about 1/4 full. It's a pretty big restaurant, but that many empty tables is a crime.
Because they knew we were celebrating my birthday, they seated us at a really cozy corner table that was perfect. I appreciate attention to detail, especially when those details are all about making me happy.
We started off with some cocktails. Andy had a Gin & Tonic with homemade tonic and I had some sort of green tea infused vodka with more liquor and pine nuts floating in the glass. It was strong and delicious.
We wasted no time in deciding that we'd both get multi-course specials. I got the Taste of Spring favorites which was a 4 course (actually 6.5 courses) meal including all the chef's and customer's favorite dishes for only $45. (!!I KNOW!!) I talked Andy into ordering the Chef's 6 course (Actually 8.5 courses courses) tasting menu.
I'm going to apologize before I begin about the quality of the photos. I try to be stealthy when taking pictures of my food at nice restaurants because, well, because it's kind of weird and I don't want people to point and stare at me. However, I do it because I love food, I love you people and want to share these incredible meals with as many people as possible. I didn't take the time to balance the white in my camera settings and thus the photos are all a bit fuzzy and yellow. Still, I think you get the basic idea.
The amuse bouche was a sweet, salty and earthy butternut squash with scallions, mushrooms and apple vinaigrette.
Then came Andy's first course which I think was the extra course they added in because he mentioned that he really liked oysters.
Malaspina Oyster (B.C.), black pepper & cucumber mignonette, tabasco & citrus `caviar’
My first course was an updated take on a Nicoise salad with beautifully charred tuna, mini potatoes, green beans, anchovies and a quail egg. I've ALWAYS wanted to eat something with a quail egg on it!
Charred Tuna Sashimi, in the style of Nicoise, soft quail egg, black olive-lemon vinaigrette
I could tell Andy was a little jealous of my tuna, so even though I let him have a bite, he was happy to see his next course was tuna tartare.
Pacific Tuna Tartare, banana chips, crème fraiche, jalapeno, microgreens and toasted sesame
The sweetness of the banana chips with the richness of the tuna and creme fraiche was amazing. Plus, there was a LOT of tuna on that plate. I couldn't believe the quality and amount of seafood we'd been getting.
Spring specializes in seafood, but we'd also requested no beef or pork since we'd had the Montgomery Inn ribs for lunch that day and weren't ready to face another mammal so soon.
I can't remember much about Andy's next course other than it was shrimp with some noodles.
Hawaiian Blue Prawns, Japanese egg noodle, maitake mushroom, sweet potato & dashi bouillon
I'm guessing I don't remember much about that one because it came out at the same time as the most delicious soup I've ever had. I am a true soup lover, so the fact that shared this with Andy speaks volumes about my affection for him. (And because he was obligated to share every one of his courses with me since it was MY birthday.)
Lemongrass & Coconut Soup, cellophane noodles, Thai chili & kaffir lime
I love seafood, but I've never seen what the big deal about scallops is. Apparently, I'd just never had good scallops and after this next course, I was converted for life. They were perfectly seared, crisp and caramelized.
Maine Sea Scallops, braised oxtail, wild mushrooms, broccoli rabe & sweet soy
I don't really remember what Andy's next course was officially, but here's my stab at it:
Crispy skinned river trout on eggplant shumai with a white truffle foam
Ew, I just realized that the foam looks a little like Milo's vomit with that yellow tint to everything. Moving on...
At this point we thought we were finished and just waiting on desserts.
Instead, the waiter put a big plate of steak and tuna in front of Andy. Andy was confused by the extra course, but the waiter read it as him being upset about the beef, so he quickly whisked it away for the next dish which turned out to be my absolute favorite! I was stuffed, but somehow made room for a few bites, and surprise, it was more scallops!
Maine Sea Scallops with a black bean glaze on a bed of crab and green beans with scallion pancakes and a sesame vinaigrette
Mmm, carmelized scallops.
While we were waiting for these delicious little guys to be brought out, the waiter brought us two complimentary glasses of a great chardonnay.
That's good service.
Dessert was next! First they brought out two, 5-spiced truffles with a candle for my birthday. Very rich, spicy and chocolatey like an Indian Easter bunny party in my mouth.
Then came the real dessert!
White chocolate peppermint dome on chocolate cake with lots of fancy peppermint chocolate embellishments.
Five-spiced pineapple crepe with crème fraiche and pineapple chip
The waiter brought our warm towels with a two shots of hot chocolate flavored with lemongrass and thyme. We drank them before I remembered to take a picture, but here's the empty glasses cause I know you were dying to see those.
It was the perfect ending to an incredible birthday meal before heading back out into the Chicago cold.