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Aujourd'hui or L'Espalier?

irishfoodie08 Jan 1, 2009 02:32 PM

Last year we dined at No. 9 Park for my husband's birthday and loved it! We've dined at many of the top rated restaurants in the country (French Laundry, Joel Roubechon, Chex Pannise etc) and are looking for the best in Boston for my husband's birthday this year. I've heard that Aujourd'hui and L'Espalier are excellent. Which is better?

  1. BostonZest Jan 1, 2009 02:40 PM

    Both are excellent but if either of you are cheese lovers, go to L'Espalier. We always loved their cheese service but with more space it has become even better.

    We had a lovely meal on Christmas Eve and ended with yet another fabulous cheese course. We have promised ourselves to get their more often this year.

    3 Replies
    1. re: BostonZest
      wittlejosh Jan 1, 2009 03:05 PM

      I think you'll hear more L'Espalier on this board. but I'd actually steer you to Aujourd'hui. I think William Kovel, the young chef, is doing some really exciting food right now.

      1. re: wittlejosh
        Wursthof Jan 1, 2009 03:40 PM

        If the food and service is anything like what I had at the Bristol lounge for lunch NYE then stay far far far away. What an abysmal experience.

        1. re: Wursthof
          wittlejosh Jan 1, 2009 03:44 PM

          Much, much different, in my experience.

    2. s
      stradacouple Jan 1, 2009 04:18 PM

      I am a huge fan of the 4 Seasons, both the Bristol and Aujourd'hui (eat at the Bristol weekly and have had nothing but amazing service for many years. Their pastas are not my most favorite, however pretty much everything else is always very good. However for an intimate birthday dinner celebration, I'd do L' Espalier. If you do deceide on the 4 Seasons for dinner, go the L'Espalier the following day for lunch. Their lunch is fantastic.

      1. WineAG Jan 1, 2009 06:12 PM

        I go to L'Espalier or Clio for special occasion dining... tasting menus and the like. Also highly recommend Troquet for great chow and fantastic wine list if wine is your thing, but the atmosphere is casual.

        5 Replies
        1. re: WineAG
          TheTrout Jan 1, 2009 08:57 PM

          A strong vote for L'Espalier !

          A quick story about Aujourd'hui, and why my wife and I will never go back: we went there for a "special dinner" a few years ago. Upon arriving, we were greeted with " You're late, did you get lost?" No other salutation. In fact, valet parking was busy that evening and we arrived about 5 minutes after our reservation time. We had requested a window table, but were told none were available. For the 3.5 hours we were there, 2 window tables sat unused. My wife's entree arrived cold, the waiter scowled when she asked to have the lamb warmed. His only comment, "you asked for it to be rare." The same plate returned a few minutes later and it was almost glowing from the heat. They must have put it in a 500 degree oven to "warm it". Yes, the meat was warmer, but everthing else on the plate had been zapped by the extreme heat - veggies were limp and the potatoes were a dried out mass. Dessert was a blur, we just wanted out. Never to return.

          1. re: TheTrout
            WineAG Jan 2, 2009 05:51 AM

            Your experience doesn't surprise me. For me everything about Aujourd'hui speaks "hotel restaurant"... over the years I've tried it with different chefs at the helm... always with the same result... a very nice hotel restaurant. I have to say that I haven't considered dining there in quite a long time and don't plan to.

            Aujourd'hui is the type of place that I would like to have in my hotel if I were traveling... y'know when you don't really feel like going out or the weather is not very good. As a hotel restaurant it's great. However, living in Boston there are so many other better options available.

            I will say that The Bristol Lounge is a nice option for a drink, a light bite, or a simple meal in a sort of formal but casual setting.

            1. re: WineAG
              Rubee Jan 3, 2009 03:19 PM

              I used to feel that way until Chef William Kovel. It's been over a year since our last dinner there, but we had wonderful meals since he took over the menu. Has anybody been recently?

              1. re: Rubee
                barleywino Jan 3, 2009 04:22 PM

                i was at Aujourdhui a couple weeks ago and tried the tasting, it was quite good despite the hotel atmosphere and occasionally inattentive service. I was there a couple yrs ago with Limster and was pleasantly surprised then too. Prices are high as might be expected, though.

            2. re: TheTrout
              maggiepie Jan 4, 2009 05:11 PM

              How long ago did you go? The new Chef has only been there for 2 years. I'd go back! I've only had great experiences there. I found my experience at L'Espalier stuffy. The food was good; nothing amazing though.

          2. 9
            9lives Jan 3, 2009 01:12 PM

            I haven't eaten at the new L'Espalier yet; but my choice would be L'Espalier over Aujourd'hui by a small margin.

            I don't think you'd go wrong with either...both very formal, well prepared, high end cuisine.

            The "service miscues" at Aujourd'hui surprise me...and I don't think it's the regular way of doing things there..and are the exception rather than the rule.

            1. v
              VeraDC Jan 5, 2009 06:21 AM

              I liked both Aujourd'hui and L'Espalier, but not as much as I like No. 9 Park. I'd also second the recommendation to look at Clio, which was quite good (again, I like No. 9 Park best). My memory is that I liked Aujourd'hui better, but it's hard to tell.

              I went to L'Espalier before they moved, and it was very intimate (small rooms with just a few tables) with somewhat fussy decorations. Aujourd'hui had a very large dining room with large windows onto the Park. Both were lovely and very Fancy Restaurant in a way that No. 9 Park isn't, but they were very different in character.

              1. b
                BostonCharles Jan 5, 2009 10:43 PM

                I'd stronly recommend L'Espalier over No. 9 park - not all that impressed with No. 9 park.

                Aujourd'hui had dropped off my list a while ago. So I can't speak to the new chef. Would certainly be curious to hear more.

                In my experience L'Espalier is Boston's best restaurant (though I don't really get into sushi, so O-ya, Oiishi etc I've no opinion on)

                1 Reply
                1. re: BostonCharles
                  barleywino Jan 6, 2009 01:15 AM

                  Has L'Espalier improved since 5 years ago (the last time I ate there)? At that time it was not very high on my list. Btw 9 Park does have a great braised short rib. I used to be a fan of their lunch tasting menu which unfortunately they've discontinued.

                2. w
                  Wannabfoode Jan 6, 2009 11:28 AM

                  I'd vote for L'Espalier also. Last time we were at Aujourd'hui our waiter was not so good, very inconsistent. However our back waiter was fantastic--much more polished and professional.

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