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where to go for the ultimate boston chowdown.

  • w

a friend and i will be parting ways soon -- she to LA, i to nyc. she's accompanied me on many a dining adventure, and we've had our share of mind-altering meals. we want to have our last boston blow-out dinner together and i'm hoping i can get some input from you guys.

the specs:

1. price is [almost] no object.
2. preference for degustation. i tend to get bored easily by entree-sized portions, so i'm looking more for a place with excellent tasting menus or a chef capable of accomodating.
3. good (if not outstanding) wine list.
4. the friend is hoping for not-too-heavy offerings. ie., maybe a veg tasting? (as for me, bring on the foie gras and lobster. monkfish liver gets bonus points.)
5. service must be near faultless. and barring that, gracious at the very least.
6. i want to be dazzled.

other considerations:
i'm already planning to do a degustation at radius in the very near future for a different occasion, so that's out. i've already done an exhaustive tasting at clio as well. currently leaning towards l'espalier, as i've yet to go, but i'm feeling some trepidation as expectations run awfully high. there's very little that can convince me to go back to no 9 park, blue ginger, hamersley's, lumiere, or maison robert. i'm also contemplating a trip out to ogunquit to check out the much-lauded arrows or fore street in portland.

what say you?

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  1. I think that L'Espalier is really the way to go. You'll get your heavier meal and your friend can get the vegetarian version. I can't comment on the quality per se of the wine list but I have always completely enjoyed the tasting menu when paired with the recommended wines by the glass. Service, of course, is L'Espalier's middle name. :-)

    Also, I'm not sure if you were contemplating Fore Street as a substitute for a L'Espalier meal or in addition to it but the experience at Fore street will be totally different -- it's noisy and busy and the chefs are talking up a storm and the food is absolutely terrific -- but it's not the soothing experience you'd have at L'Espalier.


    1 Reply
    1. re: pwen_meany

      i'm not really looking for a particular experience (even if it sounds that way). if i can get a transcendental meal at a low-key, casual place, all the better. i just want to some interesting, tasty food, prepared and presented with all the requisite attention and consideration.

      thanks for the input. much appreciated.

    2. Without question, the best meal I've had in Boston (next to a Speed's hot dog!), is the tasting menu at Clio. Dazzling for sure. Also, it fits in nicely with your criteria. LOTS of tiny courses. Light, but you'll still get some foie gras and other treats. HIGHLY recommended.

      Link: http://www.cliorestaurant.com/

      1. I still would recommend L'Espalier even after our screwed up bargain wine tasting Mon. meal last week. Their normal dinners and service are great (well, can I say that after only one time there?). Another thing that came to mind if you want more of a scene would be Mantra. It's really fun, has an interesting menu and wine, we had great service, and you've got those wacky bathrooms and a fun bar scene in an upscale place.

        As far as Maine goes, I've heard wonderful things about Arrows which sounds like it's on a completely different level than Fore St. I was at Fore St. in June and it was fine in my opinion but I didn't understand the huge raves (altho those much lauded mussels are great).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Joanie

          great, i was hoping for reaffirmation after your posting about the wine tasting. (i almost went, and i'm sort of glad i didn't). i've been to mantra, and while i had a solid meal there, it didn't feel quite comfortable. maybe they were still working out kinks then, but i thought service was a bit on the standoffish, condescending side, and they've got this whole scenester thing going that puts me off as well. but those bathrooms are great. i was tempted to sneak into the mens' room to check out that bizarre pile of ice.

        2. How 'bout Mistral.

          Had a really excellent meal there recently!

          1 Reply
          1. re: StriperGuy

            sorry, but i hatehatehate that place. on three separate occasions, i've been served less-than-inspired food and had really awful, really snooty service. not a fan.

          2. d
            David Pearlman

            See the writeup I just posted on L'Espalier.

            1. I went to Arrows many years ago, and had a wonderful time. Everything was exquisitely prepared. The location alone is worth a trip: the garden (bring the bugspray!) and the farmhouse make it very different from anything in the city.

              Since the time I went to Arrows, I've been burned too many times at expensive restaurants to try others(including many of the ones you have tried). But if I had the occasion to justify the expense, I would definitely go back to Arrows.

              1. I noticed someone mentioned a few Maine establishments, and it would seem to me your interests lie in the Boston area. For a last "Yankee" hurrah, consider Maison Robert, or the Parker House. But if Maine is an option, just 1 1/2 hours to Kennebunkport and the the most beautiful setting (an oxymoron maybe, as it is a white linen, barn setting) and hands down the most ezquisite meal of my many is THE WHITE BARN INN. It would be a fine cap to your New England experience. As I am somewhat of a food snob (meaning I just love quality and ambiance) been to all the five stars in town and love them, but the White Barn Inn is the pinnacle!

                1. Ithink if you want to be wowed you should try Ambrosia's on Huntington Ave in Boston. This is the most unique menu I have seen and presentation is absolutely beautiful. The service is impeccible a First Class dining experience.

                  Good luck to you both.

                  1. b

                    I know you've been to Clio, but have you been to the new sashimi bar they opened on the lower level this summer? I had the most memorable meal I've had in a while. Creative tasting size dishes of raw fish, like red snapper on wedges of watermelon, and octopus ceviche in a Thai marinade.