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>> L Espalier
30 Gloucester St.
Tel: +1 617-262-3023
L'Espalier doesn't pretend to be anything it is not, making no concessions toward casual convenience or accessibility. To the contrary, it is relentless in its pursuit of perfection and fully committed to dining as an experience, not just an extended act of eating. From the moment one enters the wrought-iron front door of this Back Bay brownstone and begins the ascent to one of the three dining rooms (ask to be seated in the parlor or the “seduction room”) it is as if longtime chef-owner Frank McClelland has invited you into his home for a gala dinner. Time is all but suspended. This is why so many diners sit down, order Champagne, and green-light the kitchen to cook them a seven-course dégustation (of which a vegetarian version is available) without a moment's hesitation. Though the tuxedoed waiters and name might suggest otherwise, L'Espalier is not the dyed-in-the-wool decadent French restaurant it was in the '80s. Blessed as chef McClelland may be with an Escoffier-like handle on traditional haute cuisine, his food soars because he is able to forge connections between local ingredients and classical techniques without forsaking the merits of either one. While McClelland's flavors tower highest when they are most visibly provincial French or regional American, his is an undeniably global cuisine in which pancetta and yuzu pop up as often as brioche and sweetbreads. And he is justly famous for his foie gras preparations. We're also amazed time and time again by the balletic service and wine director Erik Johnson's knack for making the food here taste even better with one tip of a bottle (the wine list is, as you'd expect, boggling).
Formal Fine Dining
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