Monday, 21 December 2009

A hyped restaurant (that doesn't exist yet)
and its new boutique

2009 saw a massive, massive buzz on one particular restaurant, the tiny 'Spring' founded by American Daniel Rose in a tiny space up near Montmartre. Part of its runaway success was due to the fact that you had to book months and months and months ahead to get in there. And then they closed it last August.

Daniel had decided to get somewhere a little bigger, and was supposed to open a new place soon afterwards in rue Bailleul in Les Halles, not far from the apartment. However, work got more and more behind schedule, and in the meantime Mr. Rose made a chance encounter that spurred him into opening... his own boutique! We went down to rue de l'Arbre Sec and visited the place for you...

American chefs are probably as chic in Paris as French chefs are in America, but that's not the phenomenon that brought Chicago-born Daniel Rose to Paris back in 1998. In the city to study philosophy, he soon fell in love with the cuisine, and after finishing university enrolled at the prestigious Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon. After a quick stint in restaurants all over the world, and a few months as Paris' ultra-posh Meurice, he decided to open his own place in the 9th arrondissement in 2006 - with just 16 seats in it! Spring was born and success was almost immediate. Before long, Daniel realised that he would need more space (especially in the kitchen) and found an old skateboard shop in the centre of town that looked perfect. We were pretty happy because it's just a short walk from the Great Apartment!

Unfortunately, building worked was considerably impeded by the Paris council dragging their feet with the building permits and the opening date was pushed back, and back again. After a visit of the new place on the Spring blog in February 2009 and the promise of a 20)seat restaurant with its own wine bar in the 16th century cellar... nothing. Or almost...

Daniel seemed to have some unexpected free time on his hands, so he turned the old Spring into 'Table 28', a rotisserie that aims to "test new ideas and products..." such as the Rennes cuckoo (which turns out to be a posh type of chicken!).

Then a chance meeting with wine expert Josh Adler from San Francisco, and the freeing up of a space just 30 seconds from the new (future) restaurant, encouraged Daniel to found his own boutique. You'll find lots of wine there - obviously - but also selected, unusual products including those he uses in his dishes, sandwiches to eat out, ham sliced upon request...

If Spring (the restaurant) is in hibernation, Spring (the boutique) is firing on all cylinders!

After a launch party on Beaujolais Nouveau night and a few wine and champagne tastings, the boutique has got off to rather a good start. We went down to take a look.

In a deliberately simple setting you'll find some interesting produce: succulent wines, forgotten varieties of vegetables, perfumed cooking oils... and a few quirky touches like the vintage pitchers from the 30s - 50s. And even if the colours of the shop are muted, the welcome is extremely warm and enthusiastic (not always the case in Paris!)...

photos : JasonW

If you're walking in Les Halles (and frankly, the apartment's just ten minutes away) Spring Boutique is at 52 Rue de l'Arbre Sec, 75001 Paris (here and on our map of all things cool near the apartment). Open Tuesday - Saturday, 10.30am - 9pm.

The new Spring restaurant, 6 rue Bailleul, 75001 Paris (here) should be open early 2010, or perhaps later than that, who can say? ;-) (read Daniel Rose's blog to be kept up to date with his news).

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Chance meetings, happy accidents and pleasant surprises

James B. Franklin - A Night's Reprieve II, 2009

One thing I wasn't sure about when we started renting the apartment was the meeting and greeting. After having worked in a (285-room) hotel years and years ago, it wasn't something I was particularly looking forward to.

But sometimes life surprises you. The people who have stayed with us have almost all been super super nice, and I've really taken a liking to welcoming them to our place, and our city. Meeting and greeting has become part of the fun of running an apartment, and although the same questions inevitable come back each time (where have you come in from? have you been to Paris before? etc.) it's genuinely great to get people settled in and ready to discover this wonderful city.

Sometimes you even meet people who seem really cool and on your wavelength. For instance,  a recent guest to our other apartment had an interesting name, James B. Franklin, that I Googled. Turns out that he was in Paris for the first time ever to attend the opening of a show that his paintings were being shown in. I looked at his site, really liked his work and got invited to the opening. It was in a gallery that I didn't know about, just one road down from the Great Apartment: the Zürcher Gallery on rue Chapon (here). It's the perfect example of the hidden Paris that's such fun to discover. From the street you can't even see that the gallery exists (apart from a small sign). You have to enter the courtyard to reach it...

The show we saw is a group effort called Wild Feature 2 (I've written an article about it on the Paris Newsblog here) featuring young artists from Brooklyn, and runs until 30th December 2009. Many of the artists have never been shown in France before.

I was especially pleased to discover a new venue that I didn't know about and wouldn't otherwise have found...

I was also particularly chuffed (as ridiculous as that might sound) that James sold one of his paintings at the opening!

Perhaps this is a space that you could check out when staying with us? Check the Zürcher Gallery site if you want to see what's currently on there. It's literally 30 seconds from the apartment. And if you want to see more of James B. Franklin's work, go to his site here.

With a bit of luck, James will be doing a special piece for the barmy, wrecked wall at the Canal Apartment that's a sort of vaguely blue-themed work-in-progress. Should be good! The chance meeting with him turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, leading to the discovery of a new place that was right under our noses (!), and hopefully there will be many more happy accidents like that to come.