Apt for its name, Spring is very pretty. All pastel/blush shades, graphic white floral installations on the walls, a glass-roofed leafy courtyard tucked to the side. Even beautifully pink floor tiles in the toilets. Looking at my photos after, there's a kind of girly glow to the place. But all set in the slightly austere and imposing high ceilinged corner of Somerset House, along with rather severe tunic uniforms (from Egg and Trager Delaney, but I liked Fay Mascher’s Handmaid’s Tale reference).
Opened just a few weeks ago, the seasonal menu is more autumnal than its spring setting. It changes often (each time I’ve looked, its been different on their website), all relatively simple sounding, but delicious combinations. There’s excellent bread for menu reading, complete with a salt crusted ball of butter. From the starters we picked silky ravioli of onion squash and ricotta with marjoram butter (£12.50), curls of squid with white polenta and chilli oil (£14.50) and crab cakes with lemon mayonnaise and rocket (£16.50). Mine was the latter, which came as three crispy little balls rather than the usual flatter pucks, crammed with the crab (nearly as delicious as the Barrafina croquettes).
For the next course I had the wild sea bass (£28) with excellent girolles and chanterelles, the fish crispy-skinned, flaky and heady with the fragrant oregano of the salmoriglio (Italian dressing with the herb, lemon and olive oil). The other two chose Dover Sole (£34) with a dainty mound of cannellini beans and three cornered garlic on the golden fish (the three-cornered a kind of wild garlic).
It’s a big follow up for chef Skye Gyngell, a while after her departure of Petersham Nurseries. I didn’t visit, but some had a bit of a gripe that it was all a little too simple to justify the prices (along the same lines of some comments levelled at The River Café), which I’ve also heard for Spring. The dishes were not super complex, but were perfectly cooked plates, beautifully combining great ingredients – the main courses do push the £30 mark, but it doesn’t feel crazily over-priced, especially set against inflated bills in some London restaurants. I loved the space too, maybe partly because I love Somerset House for its LFW madness, exhibitions and riverside setting, and the service was relaxed but quite charming.
But maybe just best to do as I did, and wangle a work/treat lunch there (they do also have a set lunch menu, 2 courses for £25.50 and 3 courses for £29.50). The restaurant critic of the magazine I was with happened to be visiting too, with a decidedly not gushing one sentence on the way out. I'm interested to read the stream of reviews sure to follow for Spring.