The award-winning team behind Church & State strikes again

By Karen Young

The spirit of the south of France illuminates one of LA’s most breathtaking restaurant openings of 2016. Located in the historic Douglas Building at the corner of Third and Spring downtown, Spring is the creation of Michelin-starred and James Beard award–winning French chef Tony Esnault and partner Yassmin Sarmadi—the husband-and-wife team behind the highly regarded Church & State in the nearby Arts District.

The 6,000-square-foot space is designed in hues of green and white with an open kitchen and antique kitchenware collection marking the entry. An expansive glass atrium highlights the modern dining area, which is filled with wood tables and Provençal-style bistro chairs, a marble bar, tranquil water fountains, and trees.

While Church & State features hearty, classic butter-centric bistro cuisine, Chef Esnault has turned the tables at Spring to explore lighter Mediterranean influences driven by olive oil, vegetables, seafood, and select meat and poultry. You can put together your meal from the seasonal à la carte menu, or indulge in the five-course tasting menu. Every plate is a work of art, starting with rustic, handcrafted stoneware dishes designed by Jim Schatz, and finalized by the chefs’ striking and masterful plating.

Starter standouts include the boeuf tartare, made with Strauss Family Farms beef, and the poisson mariné (crudo), dotted with olive tapenade and herbs. Escargot Provençal (in a unique, sans-shell preparation) appears amidst swirls of parsley sauce, while the soupe de petit pois is gracefully poured from a ceramic pitcher.

For a true Provence experience, don’t miss the cabillaud—slow-roasted cod elegantly presented with a braised artichoke sauce; or the magret de canard—succulent maple leaf duck breast accompanied by baby turnips, kohlrabi, and a side splash of fresh cherries.

Pastry chef Gregory Baumgartner complements with sweets that include fraise estragon et basilic—refreshing basil granite with strawberry sorbet and vanilla poached rhubarb—and the chocolat Monegasque—bittersweet chocolate ganache with a chocolate and praline crumble highlighted by lemon-honey sorbet and a splash of citrus vinaigrette.

Begin or end your meal in the separate bar and lounge area. Encased in rich, dark wood paneling and filled with luxurious tufted seating, this intimate space is perfect for drinks and nibbles before dining—or for a nightcap. The exclusive wine and beer list represents the breadth of the European Union, while the cocktail program is reminiscent of a lazy day in St. Tropez. Whatever you sip, you’ll be sure to leave with a dazzle of France in your mind.


Dinner: Tue–Fri 6 PM–10 PM; Sat 5:30 PM–10 PM
Lunch: Tue–Fri 11:30 AM–2:30 PM
Closed Sunday and Monday

price range

$10 (salad) to $32 (duck)