Monday, October 24, 2011

The Springs and Chef Andrew Wolwowicz

The Springs

The Springs is London’s newest and highly anticipated gourmet refuge on Springbank Drive, under the creative genius and culinary guidance of Chef Andrew Wolwowicz. The smartly appointed restaurant, housed in a beautifully refurbished church, has been operating since mid-October. We are already hearing rave reviews about Wolwowicz’s interesting menus, listing dishes crafted from local, regional and seasonal ingredients. Wolwowicz’s collaborators local entrepreneurs, Tim and Laura Owen, tell eatdrink that although they were initially hoping for a soft opening, the restaurant has been busy every single night since opening.

The Owens wanted to integrate as much of the original church as they could into the new restaurant, but they realized that the church’s foundation was disintegrating. Instead they levelled the church except for the original front vestibule, and rebuilt the structure from the ground up using 6,000 of the existing yellow bricks. Identical bricks from two houses that were being demolished on Riverside Drive shored up the project. During reconstruction a worker unearthed a time capsule in the northeast corner of the church almost 100 years to the day it had been buried.

The windows in the dining room are proportionally large, letting in light that floods the restaurant exquisitely. The dining room seats 70, the beautifully appointed patio 32 and the downstairs banquet room 40. The wall colours are muted, fresh, organic and natural. A commissioned painting of a tree by artist Jade Brown adds a thought-provoking focal point and ambience to the entrance.

A proponent of the open kitchen, Wolwowicz wanted to put a public face on the people behind the food. “You know it's a good party when you end up in the kitchen” says, Wolwowicz. In collaboration with the Owens, Wolwowicz was instrumental in helping to design every detail of the restaurant and kitchen to create a welcoming and accessible environment. There is an additional prep/pastry kitchen in the basement.

A “local” culinary ambassador with over 20 years of expertise in professional kitchens, Wolwowicz has established himself as a prominent figure in London’s culinary community. Wolwowicz chefs at the full degree of his capability, with finely tuned instincts, skill, dedication, precision, creativity and passion. The Springs are proud to use the finest locally grown products from farms specializing in sustainable agriculture, organic growing practices and ethically raised livestock.

The talk around town is about Wolwowicz’s culinary gymnastics: delectable panko-crusted Crab Cakes made with flaky back fin and delicate lump crab meat, and accompanied with a spicy sweet chili sauce. The Wild Mushroom Tart with chorizo and caramelized shallots is otherworldly. Early menu winners include: Pan-Spanked Chicken served in a cast-iron skillet then baked with a fruity extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, pancetta and fresh aromatics and served with a saffron scented cauliflower puree; Cider-glazed Willowgrove Hills Farm’s Pork Tenderloin with an apple-mustard-maple velouté, green apple marmalade and parmesan potato dumplings; and Dijon Braised Rabbit with roasted pear arancini (panko crusted risotto balls).

Wolwowicz regards Monforte Dairy’s artisanal sheep’s milk cheeses as “exceptional.” One of Chef’s preferences is Nica. Comparable to chèvre, it is amplified with lavender and fermented organic garlic flower tops. This delicious cheese shows up on both his Bruschetta Fajioli (white bean puree with seasoned tomatoes), and his Wildwood Greens Duck Salad (medium-rare, pan-roasted, melt- in- your- mouth magret of duck with a medley of crisp seasonal greens, roasted beets, hemp seeds and a citrus-wolfberry vinaigrette). The Espresso and Black Pepper Crusted Venison Loin served with beet, parsnip and celery root frites, chilli arugula salad and a chocolate pomegranate gastrique (classically inspired sweet and sour sauce) is to die for. The Springs is well on its way to being a regional culinary landmark.

310 Springbank Drive; 519-657-1100