DINING OWL AWARD: 1st – for feeling healthy
When I visited: August 2015
Location: London, Somerset House
Team: Skye Gyngell (Head Chef), Sarah Johnson (Head Pastry Chef)
Rating in the Michelin Guide: Recommended
What to wear: Men – jeans or nice trousers and a shirt; women – jeans and a smart top or a smart dress
Ambience: Light, airy, casual
Course of the meal: Grilled mackerel with spinach and aioli
If I could change one thing: More innovative main courses
Spring is exactly the type of restaurant that I like on first sight. It’s big on light meals and vegetables, it’s fun and it avoid Michelin cliches by not being too traditional. However, it needs a bit more zing if it wants a Michelin star (or even a ‘recommended’ rating) as you don’t get any bonuses other than petits fours and the service and the quality of the food leave a little to be desired – they’re OK but not special at the moment. The waiting staff dress in stripes and smocks, which I’ve seen other reviewers mock but I actually quite liked their different look.
I went with my partner Owl and we opted for the set lunch menu (3 courses for £31.50). The bread selection was left on our table (see this dilemma here) and involved a healthy-looking seedy, almost Danish-type bread and a brown bread with misshapen, gorgeous (possibly homemade) butter. We started with a glass of Jacques Picard Brut champagne and the sommelier helped us choose a lovely bottle of white Palladius (Swartland) 2010 wine (14.5%!) to go with our meal.
My starter was Fern Verrow leaves with courgettes, pecorino and buttermilk dressing while my partner Owl went for a risotto with speck and sage. Both were substantial and tasty but not massively innovative or exciting. We moved on to grilled mackerel with spinach and aioli and spiced rubbed quail with pak choi and chilli sauce, which were again large and pleasant, but there was a bit of a main course dip … the whole quail was hard to eat and perhaps would benefit from being separated a bit.
For my dessert I had a choice of ice cream from the ‘Salon’ and went for lemon, which was tart and lovely when accompanied with a sugary side biscuit, while my partner Owl had an almond tart with gooseberry compote and crème fraîche. Beforehand we shared a cheese selection which was again substantial and delicious. We finished off with our usual green tea accompanied by a single petit four each of a toffee-like chocolate truffle dusted in cocoa powder.