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MENTON or L'ESPALIER?

I will be visiting boston for the weekend and will be dining at one of these restaurants. I have already been to l'espalier, and am willing to try Menton, but the only thing that is holding me back is the decor which seems rather drab (or just not as impressive as l'espalier).

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Menton
354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

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  1. I don't think much of the decor at either of them. If you haven't been to L'Espalier since it moved to the Mandarin Oriental, you aren't in for a nice surprise on your next visit. Regardless, I'd give Menton a try. Their approach and virtues are rather similar.

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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    L'Espalier
    774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

    Menton
    354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

    4 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Im a New Yorker, so I dont know too much about high end boston restaurants, but was aujourd'hui any good when it was open? what did it compare to?

      1. re: mjm1218

        If New York's high-end New American / fancy French places with elaborate plating, service, and wine lists -- think Jean-George, Daniel, Bouley, La Grenouille, etc. -- are the major leagues, Boston's top tier is Triple A. We don't have anything remotely like a Per Se.

        I liked Aujourd'hui a lot in its last incarnation, and it was a Top 10 restaurant here, but I didn't like it as much as L'Espalier or Menton. It definitely went the furthest in terms of old school grandiose decor: it was our Four Seasons hotel's fancy dining room.

        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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        L'Espalier
        774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

        Aujourd'hui
        200 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116

        Menton
        354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          My last (and first) visit at L'espalier was the location in the Mandarin Oriental. I liked the decor; it was clean, modern, somewhat refreshing. I can see how others think of it as slightly austere.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Agreed. As a former New Yorker, I can say that Boston definitely doesn't have a Per Se. The only restaurant to match NYC two or three star quality I've found is L'Espalier. I haven't been to Menton yet...on my list.

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            L'Espalier
            774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

            Menton
            354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

      2. I would go to Mistral or Sorrelina

        2 Replies
        1. re: riverboy

          Menton.

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          Menton
          354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

        2. Menton - the food and service are outstanding. I recently had lunch at L'Espalier and was very disappointed...

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          L'Espalier
          774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

          Menton
          354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

          1 Reply
          1. re: scubajane

            In Nov 2009 I had a disappointing lunch at L'Espalier as well. Mushy caviar - inexcusable. Self-conscious servers who couldn't properly pronounce the names of the dishes - sad.

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            L'Espalier
            774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

          2. I find both Menton and L'Espalier to be excellent. You can't go wrong. Food and service are excellent.

            I might be in the minority here, but while neither restaurant compares to L'Espalier's old setting in that townhouse, Menton's is actually slightly evocative of it. I found the old L'Espalier to have a very New England ascetic aesthetic. Menton has a kind of spare and stark modern version of that same elegant New England asceticism. I like it.

            Aujourd'hui under William Kovel really could be something special. I say "could" because it could be an ordinary hotel restaurant, or it could be great. Certainly it had a wonderful setting. Brunch and an a la carte dinner on a busy night were totally disappointing (but pricey), while some tasting menus I've had there on a Wednesday were simply extraordinary, with service to match.

            MC Slim, I see where you're coming from with the Major Leagues to AAA comparison between New York and Boston Fine Dining. Certainly on price and breadth, I'd agree with you. =) But I am often reminded of a particular experience where I had the good fortune to eat at L'Atelier De Joël Robuchon in NYC on Thursday and L'Espalier in Boston three days later. There was no comparison. L'Espalier was so much better in every regard. L'Atelier De Joël Robuchon is among my favorite restaurants. I've had meals there that have blown me away. L'Espalier has blown me away too, as it did that night. So I think Boston can compete in the big leagues too, at least sometimes.

            And look, Mistral and Sorrelina are just fine, even fancy restaurants. But they are very different from Menton or L'Espalier (or O Ya or Clio). Just a different league --- if the OP wants an ultra-luxe experience, Mistral or Sorrelina isn't it.

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            L'Espalier
            774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

            O Ya
            9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

            Aujourd'hui
            200 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116

            Menton
            354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

            1 Reply
            1. re: lipoff

              Completely agree with Lipoff -- we've tried both Mistral and Sorrelina over the years, and though both offered great music and a lively scene the food was mostly disappointing, especially the mains (though with a couple of high notes here and there -- a lovely delicate pasta appetizer at Sorrelina, for example) and the service much more focused on being cool than being helpful. We managed to snag a table at Per Se last time we made it to NYC -- life-changing -- and have booked L'Espalier to celebrate one of our parent's "milestone" birthdays next week in the hopes we'll have at least a shred of that experience here in town (fingers crossed).

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              L'Espalier
              774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

            2. Thank you all for your responses. I ended up going to Menton for dinner and L'espalier for lunch, as I (as stated above) have already gone to L'espalier for dinner. Menton was really wonderful, and I very muched enjoyed the decor. I thought that it was somewhat unusual-atleast in the pairing of the elements. And if anyone on the post is from new york doesn't it kind of feel Tribeca-ish?

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              Menton
              354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

              9 Replies
              1. re: mjm1218

                My take on Menton's decor is "expensive, bland corporate boardroom." The good news for them is that L'Espalier's new home is equally boring.

                When I think of Tribeca, I think airy former industrial spaces made into something funky and cool, like Nobu, Trattoria Cinque or Locanda Verde. There's some really fancy, great-looking places now, like Megu, but that's a newish thing for the neighborhood.

                Drink downstairs shows off some of the building's industrial bones to good effect, but Menton seems to want to hide them. I put in in the same designer bucket as L'Espalier: expensively generic, flat, monochrome, and except for a couple of cool lighting fixtures, dull dull dull. I know "understated" is the vibe being gone for, but it's barely a step up from No. 9 Park, which I always felt looked underdecorated and half-finished.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  I understand exactly what you are talking about. Now that i think of it the tribeca restaurants really do have a quite a range in decor (from Corton to Bouley).I guess what I meant to say, although I went later on at night and couldn't see much of the neighborhood, was that the surrounding area kind of felt like tribeca. Like the Stairs leading to the entrance of Menton.

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                  Menton
                  354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                  1. re: mjm1218

                    Absolutely: the two neighborhoods have a very similar heritage.

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  2. re: MC Slim JB

                    When i first saw the photos of Menton, i was shocked...i thought they were referencing an elegant minimal funeral home.

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                    Menton
                    354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                    1. re: nasilemak

                      Perfect. "Elegant minimal funeral home'' nails Menton's interior.

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                      Menton
                      354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                      1. re: katzzz

                        Ha! Menton was recently featured on Chronicle. When they showed the interior my first thought was,"My god! Who died?"

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                        Menton
                        354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                      2. re: nasilemak

                        I can definitely see where you are coming from (thats actually quite funny, and I felt the same way). But, like many other restaurants, when you are in the space it feels less austere.

                    2. re: mjm1218

                      Thanks for getting back to us.

                      1. re: mjm1218

                        Mjm, so how was mention? How did it compare to places in new York or espalier in terms of food?