The Springs on Springbank Drive - One of London Ontario's Top Restaurants
BY BRYAN LAVERY
The smartly appointed Springs Restaurant, housed in a beautifully refurbished church consistently receives rave reviews. Chef Andrew Wolwowicz’s innovative menus, list dishes crafted from local, regional and quality seasonal ingredients. The gastronomic scope of Wolwowic's repertoire is influenced by a commitment to a steadfast philosophy that advances the economic, ecological and social values of our local culinary and agricultural communities
Local entrepreneurs and Wolwowicz's collaborators, Tim and Laura Owen wanted to integrate as much of the original church as they could into the new restaurant. Unfortunately, they learnt 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 and a slew of additional identical bricks from 2 houses that were being demolished on Riverside Drive.
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 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 patio is an oasis unto itself.
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 kitchen in the basement.
Wolwowicz has established himself as a prominent figure in London’s culinary community. Wolwowicz cooks at the full degree of his capability, with finely tuned instincts, skill, dedication, precision, creativity and passion. The Springs procure the finest locally grown products from farms specializing in sustainable agriculture, organic growing practices and ethically raised livestock.
At lunch, The Carnivore (one of the best sandwiches ever) consists of sous-vide pork cheeks combined with perfectly braised duck leg confit, creamy soft Riviere rouge cheese, skillet baked between rye bread, then, finished with a wild boar bacon & date demi and then, garnished with a sunny side up egg.
Wolwowicz’s culinary repertoire has included: luscious 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.
Delectable Duck Pierogies & Kung Fu Cabbage with shredded duck leg confit, sheep’s milk cheese, Yukon gold potatoes served with Kung Fu Riesling braised Wakefield cabbage and a pancetta cream reduction are the talk of the city.
Other memorable 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).
The signature Teriyaki Prawn Penne is a menu staple, with jumbo prawns and forest mushrooms sautéed with a julienne of peppers and sweet onions tossed with a spicy sweet teriyaki cream sauce. Served mild, medium or yeow.
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 show ups 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 Harrar Espresso and carved loin of Crusted Venison served with a Jerusalem artichoke mash, chili & wild arugula greens finished with a dark chocolate pomegranate gastrique is to die for.
The restaurant has one of the best wine lists in the city
310 Springbank Drive; 519-657-1100