My wife and I are finally going out this Saturday and we have 8:30 reservations at the restaurant. I've never been before, but am asking for some advice on menu selection. We've done the chef's tasting at Clio with the pairing, and I remember that it was about 4 hours of bliss (but I digress)....so I've read the reviews but was wondering if anyone had an opinion here about the Prix Fixe vs. the Degustation vs. the Chef's tasting journey....based on time and value (understanding that expense and value are different).
so what says you chowhounders!? Appreciate the help.
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I've never done the Chef's Tasting Journey at L'Espalier, but it would likely be a three-hour ordeal. I actually find the Degustation a challenge to get through: so many rich meats, seafoods, cheeses -- and so prefer the vegetarian one, though the produce can be a little wan in the winter. The three-course prix fixe strikes me as a little "not enough of a good thing", though there are always plenty of extras to fill it out: excellent bread, an amuse or two, mignardises, and adding a cheese course is always a good idea here. Dessert is pretty damned extraordinary these days, too -- their pastry chef might be the cleverest in the city -- so you don't want to stint on that.
re: MC Slim JB
Just did the Summer Tasting Menu this past weekend - Don't be fooled by the 'mere' 4 savory courses on offer (Lobster, Foie, Salmon, Lamb). Portion sizes of these seemed more generous than when I dined there exactly 1 year ago. There were 4 unannounced appetizers / amuse bouches, a pre-dessert dessert, post-dessert petits fours and the generous cheese course (5 spectacular cheeses). Another cheddar brioche - why, yes, don't mind if I do.
I am not sure I could ever get through the tasting Journey.
Oh, and by the way, it was all spectacular.
I did the Chef's tasting earlier this year. Started soon after 6pm, and we didn't leave 'til after 9pm. It was delicious by the way, and I was delighted by all the dishes that came out. I've had the Craigie 10 course tasting a few times, and found the tasting menu at L'Espalier to be lighter and perhaps better balanced overall. The Craigie tasting (while fabulous, IMO, and I would still gladly go back) tends to get a lot heavier at the end and I would literally have to roll out of the restaurant each time. The L'Espalier was good without being uncomfortably so. Haven't had the other items you mentioned at L'Espalier.
I'd go for as much as you can fit in your budget (make sure it at least includes some seared foie and the cheese course)
Go all out and push your budget. This will be a meal that's worth it. I've done the tastings at both Clio and L'Espalier. Clio is more inventive, has more of a wow factor, and more surprises. Don't expect that at L'Espalier as the food is more refined, features great classical technique, and top notch ingredients.