Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Jan 22, 2009 12:57 PM

Chef's Table at L'Espalier

We'll be dining at L'Espalier within the month, and I've been researching to try and figure out what will be the best dining experience. Should we do the Degustation or the "Chef's Dining Journey"? (This is part of a lovely gift I received, so money is not a huge factor, but if we do the Degustation we might get more expensive wine, which could be worth it.)

What I can't find any info on is the Chef's Table. Anyone try it? It looks interesting, but really close to the guys in the kitchen!

I wouldn't want it to be overwhelming, but if it's a special treat, with the same or similar service as the dining room, I would love to go.

Thoughts? (A little background on us: we are NYC transplants, prefer to spend money on food and wine versus material things, so far in Boston we loved Radius, No. 9 Park was too salty (was it an off night?), and Oleana. We've dined at Per Se, French Laundry, Jean George, Le Bernardin... FL being the very, very best experience.


I found this (also posted elsewhere on the boards):

Front & Center at The L'Espalier Chef's Table
Get ready for an up-close and personal dining experience at the brand new Chef's Table at L'Espalier. Lucky diners can watch the magic unfold right from the thick of things in the heart of the bustling Boylston Street kitchen. Chef-owner Frank McClelland and his right hand man James Hackney will present guests with an unforgettable menu - prepared right before their very eyes. Here's the hitch - they only seat one party per evening (excluding Sundays) and there's only enough room for groups of two or three. Call 617.262.3023 to get your name on the list asap for this totally unique dining experience.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If I were you, I would call L'Espalier and chat with Mâitre d', Louis Risoli. Tell him what you like about other dining experiences and let him suggest what they might do to make your L'Espalier experience as perfect for you as possible.

    I've interviewed him for articles a couple of times and he is brilliant and funny and caring from all I can see. He has also been an important part of the restaurant for more than 20 years. If I were in your position and I knew about a resource like him, that is what I would do.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BostonZest

      In general how much is it for Chef's Table? I guess the real question is, how much more expensive is it compared to a normal meal at the same restaurant?

      1. re: chowda

        As far as I know, it costs the same as the Chef's Tasting Journey, which is $185pp.

    2. I can't comment on the Chef's Table question, as I have not yet been to the new location, but my wife and I went to the old location for a number of special occasions, and on one particularly decadent evening we indulged in the Chef’s Tasting Journey, with wine pairings. That meal and evening is one of the singular most memorable meals we have ever had, and we have had a lot.

      Attached is the menu that they printed and gave to us as we left (how cool is that?) which gives you an idea of what is involved.

      1 Reply
      1. re: StevieC

        It is not clear if my attachment actually attached, despite my efforts. If you care to post an email I can forward it to you.

      2. i liked my few experiences at l'espalier. the chef's table is NOT the way to go though. it's poorly situated and makes service very challenging and it's reflected on the diner. it is a beautiful kitchen that looks like it could feed the mandarin and the lennox hotels but i would rather watch a hockey game from behind that plexi-glass.

        my advice is definitely sit in the dining room. service is not the best part of l'espalier (a strange version of a captained floor mixed with an element of the "not my job" union kind of thing) but, it is definitely better in the dining room just don't expect keller or jg service. the chefs table just feels like it was just slapped together just to have a "chef's table"

        in terms of wine... i also would stay away from the pairings. pretty boring stuff but, beware cuz the full list is quite expensive. highlights are some really good burgundy options and depth with age.

        my vote is for the dining room.... but i'm just one dude who likes to eat. hopefully others who have sat at the chefs table can comment as well

        1. We treated our son to the chef's table for his birthday two weeks ago on a Friday night. Not only was the food exquisite, but the service was truly excellent. The chefs, servers and sommelier (a wonderful woman who offered an in-depth explanation with each of the 10 wines she poured) literally went out of their way to be certain that we had everything we needed. When anyone from our party of four left the table and went to the bathroom, they were accompanied through the kitchen to make sure there were no accidents. The servers carefully explained every one of the 14 dishes in detail and the chef de cuisine not onky took us on a tour of the kitchen, but was available to explain any of the questions that we had about the preparation of the food, of which we had many.

          I would highly recommend this experience to anyone that has an interest in great food and its preparation and would like to demystify the process to get a better understanding of how a truly professional high end kitchen is run.

          The kitchen was very accommodating, including creating 4 or 5 different courses for the one person in our party who was allergic to seafood.

          The only problem was that with 4 people the space felt a bit cramped, yet 2 or 3 should have plenty of space. Also, there was much too much food, and we did not consume it all which was unfortunate.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Joseph Helfgot

            great... glad you enjoyed it. good to see that there was a different point of view than mine. i agree, it is fun to see how a high end kitchen is run for sure. as well i agree that there was too much food and i have definitely had dinners with far more courses and been saited not stuffed! i guess our only difference of opinion was the service. perhaps an adjustment to having the new table in the kitchen. although, i still found the service a little disjointed in the dining room as i mentioned before. it just doesn't compare to other restaurants at a level that they are striving for (or seem to be)

          2. Completely off topic ... the prices for the two seven-course menus are the same as they were almost 10 years ago. Obviously, price not an object here ... just shocking to me.