has anyone done the L'espalier RW lunch yet?
re: C. Hamster
Just got back.
The food was delicious. I had a creamy onion soup and the salmon. The pork was also reported to be yummy. L'Espalier's sauces are exceptional, IMO. The dessert was basically a chocolate brownie that was just OK.
Service was attentive, as it always has been, but has taken on an unfortunately aggressive air. It began with the bottled water. Whatever. Then we ordered our meals and our waiter asked in a unpleasant vaguely demanding tone "What side dishes will you be ordering today?" We were a bit taken aback by this overtly suggestive selling. We didn't want any of the sides (mac and cheese,, asparagus, frites). Nor did we want the wine or champagne that was pushed just a bit too hard.
I wanted the cheese course instead of dessert. I also wanted to select my cheeses, as I am a bit of a cheese wonk. Waiter said, I will bring the cheese course before dessert. I said *with* dessert ( as in my DC's dessert) , but what happened was that he brought all 4 of us a plated $12 per cheese course. Before dessert. Personally, I don't think this was a mistake. My DC's like cheese and so decided to eat it anyway and it was outstanding. It was just the pushy way it was handled that bugged me.
I have been there many times in the past and experienced nothing at all like this.
The new room is nice enough but nothing to write home about. It could be any upscale hotel dining room anywhere. It's warm and not entirely impersonal, but it lacks the charm and elegance that made dining there in the old location so much more special.
That said. The food is outstanding and certainly worth it.
I went for Thursday lunch during last Restaurant Week and it was great. I've done several RW meals in the last few years and L'Espalier is one of the best - treated like a regular diner, not RW riffraff (like others I experienced). Unless something awful has happened since the fall, you will enjoy it. BTW the new space by the Mandarin Hotel is beautiful.
I agree with Hamster about the service being a little aggressive. I had the salad, salmon and the brownie desert and it was pretty underwhelming. The salad was pretty small, and had a very basic vinaigrette and some slices of rubarb. The cheddar was nice and sharp enough to balance all the acid though. The salmon and the desert were just so mediocre. The beurre blanc on the salmon was nice, but the fish itself was dry on the edges, and while not severely ammoniated, the fishy flavor was detectable and a little unpleasant. I tried a little bit of the pickled and peppered cabbage on top of the pork belly which one of the DC's ordered, which was pretty hard to swallow. I liked the heavy handed pepper flavor, but combined with the excessive vinegar it was just too much. The gateau chocolat was indistinguishable from a good, but not exceptional brownie you could find at any bakery around town.
I went this weekend and thought it was AMAZING. I am so sad that Ace thought is was so so. My friend and I both got the soup and salmon. The soup was oniony and sweet and creamy and rich but not heavy, and I thought the salmon was the best salmon I've ever had - not dry at all, the crisp part perfectly balanced the slightly undercooked middle (which is how I like my fish and how the waiter told us the chef prepares it) and the horseradish stuff on top combined with the sauce and mustard and greens was easily one of the best meals I've had in Boston ever. It definitely didn't taste like it had been sitting out all day. I agree that the dessert disappointed but I didn't go there for dessert.
As for the service our waiter was not aggressive or pushy at all. He asked us if we'd like wine or sides or cheese but we said no thanks and just stuck to the $20 RW stuff and he wasn't turned off or rude at all.
It is so weird that the food quality seemed to change for each diner.