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May 7, 2001 04:20 PM

L'Espalier or Clio?

  • c

I can't decide where to take my mom for her birthday. (She's visiting.) She loves foie gras and I've called to check that both these places are serving a fresh foie gras dish. I love both places but haven't been to either in about 6 months. Opinions please, my fellow foodies! Thank you!

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  1. On food alone, I think Clio is the best restaurant in Boston; the food itself is very exciting (although I've been much less pleased with the desserts). However L'Espalier's total dining experience is more luxurious in the traditional French style. It really depends on what you're looking for.

    Hope this helps!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Helen

      Ditto the other e-mail. VERY different experiences. The food at Clio is more modern in the creative, cross-cultural sense. The room is dapper, with leopard-skin rugs, funky lamp fixtures and such. L'Espalier is very much an experience, and the food can be excellent. For foie gras, I would actua1lly give the edge to L'Espalier. Frank McClelland, the chef/owner, can do amazing things with the stuff. Tot2ally worth calling ahead to see what they have -- or if they arrange something special. But, to flip flop again, Ken Oringer's food does have dynamism and "wow" factor unlike any in town -- excepting chef Rene Michelena (ex La Bettola, now Centro and some upcoming Asian places) when he's cooking upscale.

    2. I've been to both in the past week. The overall dining experience at L'Espalier is the best I've experienced in Boston and the restaurant has only a handful of challengers in NYC. I will admit that the cuisine offered at Clio is more "exciting" from a fusion perspective, but L'Espalier's cuisine is not your standard fare either. Few do modern French haute cuisine this well.

      Both establishments offer great ambiance: Clio is at the same time both slick and comforting and L'Espalier's intimate dining rooms are grand and luxurious (but not intimidating).

      The service is the big difference between these two restaurants. L'Espalier's service is near flawless. At Clio, the staff is a bit full of themselves. I was a little off put when I received a voicemail in a less-than-friendly tone that I needed to call to confirm that they "should still hold my table" for later that evening. Much of the banquette seating requires the table to be pulled out in order for the guest to be seated, but the maitre d's seem to believe that this is the patron's job. Never seen that one before. Clio's servers are knowledgable but less than genuine. Also, the table bussers are a bit aggressive in clearing plates -- turning the tables is on their mind.

      Finally, although Clio's wine list is respectable, there is no comparison with L'Espalier's wine BOOK, which I found to be not unfairly priced.

      L'Espalier offers more of the special event experience.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Roger

        Throughout the years, every meal at L'Espalier has marked a special occassion.
        Every meal HAS BEEN a special occassion. The food is excellent, the service superb and the atmosphere is bliss!!!
        Worth the $$$$. Very romantic!

      2. L'Espalier's food is interesting and tasty and the service if very, very good with a very positive, friendly attitude.

        Clio could be good with "regular" sized portions and a decidely less full of themselves attitude.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Tom

          I have to say that I actually like the smaller portions at Clio...I am so tired of leaving restaurants stuffed to the gills with large portions. I appreciate being able to order 3 (or more!) courses of exquisitely prepared food and be able to go home feeling that I have really sampled some outstanding cuisine rather than simply having consumed a huge amount. At many restaurants now, I find that I have to order 2 appetizers instead of an appetizer and entree, because the portion sizes are just so ridiculously huge...

          1. re: Robin

            There's always the doggy bag option if you feel portions are too large. And sometims eating two appetizers is as good if not better than having an entree.


        2. L'Espalier!