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l'espalier: recent takes?

coookie Mar 18, 2007 08:12 PM

made dinner reservations at l'espalier in two weeks and the last review i can find is almost a year and a half old. anyone have a more recent experience there?


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  1. t
    thesenator Mar 19, 2007 07:56 AM

    I am at L'espalier at least once a month and can tell you that the food, service, wine and atmosphere are as good as ever. It never ceases to amaze me that L'espalier can consistently have such good food and ambiance with no pretension at all. The staff is always a pleasure.

    1. MC Slim JB Mar 19, 2007 08:07 AM

      I'm a big fan of L'Espalier as well, though it's been a while since I've been back. But I'm not sure I agree about a lack of pretension: this place puts on a fairly ostentatious show of formality, pomp, and very elaborate service and food plating. It's rather more solemn and hushed than most fine-dining places in town.

      You may mean something different by "pretension", but I think L'Espalier probably meets the definition of "pretentious" by the standards of many people I know: it's kind of full of itself, which I happen to find part of its charm, as long as it continues to deliver amazing food and service in those beautiful rooms.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MC Slim JB
        BostonBarGuy Mar 19, 2007 07:24 PM

        I agree, L'Espalier defines pretense. I'm not necessarily saying that the servers are snobby, most are great. I don't think it's accurate or fair to lead people, who are asking our honest opinion about the experience, to believe that it isn't VERY formal and pompous/borderline boring. It is an exquisite dining experience and if you desire an elite, high-end, fancy-pants night out, you've picked the right place. Please be ready for a VERY quiet and stuffy experience, wat too quiet for me. Just being honest. Please let us know how you like it. Enjoy!!

      2. t
        tamerlanenj Mar 19, 2007 08:35 AM

        My SO and I splurged for the chef's tasting journey menu for our third anniversary, paired with wine. It was exquisite in every way, though still a second favorite to Arrow's in Ogunquit. I would say, however, that the regular tasting menu should be quite sufficient. The chef's tasting menu left us stuffed AND drunk!

        2 Replies
        1. re: tamerlanenj
          MC Slim JB Mar 19, 2007 08:41 AM

          Sounds awesome, and a perfect example of what I mean by pretentious: the name "Chef's Tasting Journey". I myself can barely handle the vegetarian degustation (four courses plus cheese, dessert, and petit fours) with matched wines. The meat-and-fish version of that one nearly killed me.

          1. re: tamerlanenj
            tamerlanenj Mar 19, 2007 05:03 PM

            By the by, the meal included oysters, fois gras, pork tenderloin, lamb, butter poached lobster, pheasant, a phenomenal salmon, a grand fromage, dessert, petit fours, and six glasses of wine.

            Let's just say I slept heavily that night!

          2. coookie Mar 19, 2007 09:09 AM

            great; thanks all.

            very much looking forward to this weekend...

            1. MaggieMuffin Mar 19, 2007 10:45 AM

              I also ate there recently. It is not the kind of place I would go back to any time soon. The feel is very old, pretentious, so definately not the kind of place I really enjoy. The food is fine, alhtough not super creative, and very pricey. I think there are better ways to spend that kind of money in town. The desserts were very disappoining....

              4 Replies
              1. re: MaggieMuffin
                bellachow Mar 19, 2007 05:35 PM

                I have to weigh in on the whole pretentious/non-pretentious debate. I definitely agree that L'Espalier does take itself seriously and definitely puts a lot into presenting itself as a formal, special occasion restaurant. However, I have to say that when my husband and I splurged for a birthday treat, I found the staff to be completely delightful. I have been to much less high end restaurants and experienced much snootier service. I felt that everyone there, from the Maitre d' to our waiter were only interested in us having a wonderful meal.

                Personally, I had a wonderful time, and yes, it was expensive, but we were there for nearly three hours and it is an experience we will remember for a long time.

                1. re: bellachow
                  ginafly Aug 17, 2007 12:38 PM

                  I too have had much snootier service at much less expensive restaurants (ahem, talkin' about you, OLIVES). I felt the staff at L'Espalier genuinely wants to make you feel comfortable. I suppose that some people could view the quiet ambiance and attention to detail as being "snooty" but I have always felt very comfortable there, even the time my husband walked in with his suit pretty wet because he ran through a sudden downpour to buy an umbrella for us (uh, me), en route.

                  1. re: ginafly
                    bachslunch Aug 18, 2007 06:38 AM

                    I've also never had a problem with the service at L'Espalier, which I found utterly professional and very attentive without being stuffy.

                    In fact, I've more often encountered snooty I'm-doing-you-a-big-favor service problems at non-urban fine dining places -- which I guess think that's how the big cities do it, so they should do it. I'm especially talking about Silks in Tyngsboro here and to a lesser extent Arrows in Ogunquit (specifically the reservation taking folks at the latter, who were almost off putting enough that I didn't go -- the servers, especially at the bar, were notably nicer). In fact, except for 28 Degrees, I can't remember experiencing this particular sort of service problem in Boston or Cambridge, and never at the truly high end places I've been to (other types of service problems at local places, that's a different story).

                    1. re: bachslunch
                      Scruffy The Cat Aug 18, 2007 07:37 AM

                      I had lunch at L'Espalier not too long ago and had to bring my 9-year-old with me. The food was marvellous, and they were SO friendly to my son. My son is very well-behaved in restaurants and wouldn't make noise or get out of his seat, nevertheless, they were very friendly to him. It was a prime moment that other restaurants would take to be snooty and they didn't do this at all.

                      They're just not snooty. I've found WAY snootier at far lesser restaurants. These people know their stuff.

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