L'Espalier is often considered one of the top Boston restaurants and they recently moved to the site of the new Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a luxury hotel on Boylston Street. I had never been to L'Espalier before but had an opportunity this past week to dine there as part of a special Portuguese wine dinner sponsored by ViniPortugal. I will elaborate more on the wines in another post but wanted to concentrate this one on the restaurant and its food.
From the street, you must take an elevator up to the restaurant. We had a private room for our dinner so I did not get to see all of the restaurant. But, what I did see was impressive, a fancy decor that was not too ostentatious. I loved the clear walls where you could see wine being stored, including many top notch Burgundies.
For our dinner, we had a choice of first course and main course, each having three choices to pick from. For the first course, I went with the almond dusted veal sweetbreads with pommes puree, shishito peppers and braised red cabbage. My other options had been a gratin of Skip's Island Creek oysters or a foie gras terrine. I very much enjoyed the sweetbreads, with a light and nutty breading. They were tender and flavorful as well, and there were four pieces, a good-sized dish.
For my main course, I went with the Blue Foot chicken with baby Brussel sprouts, new potatoes, and a black truffle and roasted chicken reduction. My other choices were an almond crusted rack of Colorado lamb or seared Kona Kampachi. The chicken was quite good, moist and tasty and there was a good-portion of it. I very much liked the potatoes too.
We then had a cheese course, a special Portuguese sheep's milk cheese that was fantastic, with a nice smoky flavor. It had all the usual accompaniements. I only wished there had been more of the cheese as I could have eaten plenty more.
Then there was a dessert course, a plate with several different desserts on it, presented very well. Again, an amazing dish with a nice variety of items, including a phenomenal little chocolate dessert that melted in my mouth. There was a pumpkin cheesecake, which though I usually do not like cheesecake, I enjoy this. I enjoyed everything on the plate and it was an excellent end to the meal. Though we did receive afterwards some petit fours, which were also quite tasty.
Now, as we had a set dinner, it may not be a fully accurate picture of the usual dining experience at L'Espalier. But based on what I did have, I was pleased with the meal, though I did not think the first and main courses were exceptional. I was very happy with them, but I think I had high expectations and was expecting a more transcendent dining experience. Now, the cheese and dessert courses were exceptional to me so maybe their regular menu could do that for me as well.
So, though I would return to L'Espalier to experience their usual menu, it might be with a bit of trepidation.
774 Boylston Street