I decided to boycott gnocchi a while back because 3 times in a row, once each at La Campania, Taranta and Antico Forno, they ranged from gummy to heavy. We tried the new SDLT in Natick tonight, and I was forced to get the gnocchi with mushrooms and leeks because it was the only vegetarian entree on the menu, and hallelujua! Light, melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi with oodles of flavorful wild mushrooms and leeks in a creamy, slightly peppery sauce. Ahhh....
My DC had the Scottish salmon with almonds and apples over some kind of risotto, and said it was divine.
To start, there were three breads served with butter: country white, light rye, and olive, all with a nice, chewy crust. Our server told us that they'd been using the same bread starter for 30 years. Maybe the original baker at L'Espalier brought it with him from somewhere else.
I started with a refreshing champagne and raspberry cocktail--can't remember the name, and finished with the apple tarte tatin with 4-spice ice cream. The pastry part of the tarte was very good, but the pumpkin-pie-like spices in the ice cream had too strong a flavor for both me and the apples. After a bite of my ice cream, DC ordered a dish of it for herself.
Service was perky and efficient. I liked the atmosphere. All the seating I could see in the main dining room was booths, which I like. They were booked solid on a Saturday night; the only reservation available with one day's notice was for 9:00, but none of the FOH seemed rushed because they were well-staffed. The bar and cafe were lively since the Sox were playing and winning by a mile. Lighting and temperature were just right. I'd never been to the one in Boston because I'd never heard anyone rave about it, but I'll be frequenting the Natick locale since it's close by.