Last Wednesday I treated myself to a feast at L'espalier in Boston. I was lucky enough to get a spot at the chef's table and have an experience that will never be forgotten. Executive Chef Frank Mcclelland and Chef de Cuisine Shane O'neil run one of the best kitchens in the northeast. It is organized, clean, and well-managed. The cuisine is primarily French with accents of New England produce. All of the members on staff are dedicated and passionate professionals. They know what they are doing.
Eating at the chef's table is more than a meal, it is an experience. Chatting with the cooks was a blast and I got to see how the restaurant functions. Eating alone was not awkward what so ever. The staff made me feel welcome.
Service was the best I ever had. One person's job was to wait on me, that's it. I had my own personal server! He was very knowledgeable about every course that was served to me and answered all of my questions. When I had to use the restroom I was escorted to the bathroom, which made me laugh a little. When are you going to be escorted to the bathroom? I was treated like a celebrity in the kitchen, it was a surreal experience. To put it simply I was pampered and loved it.
Since there were sooooo many courses I will not comment on all of them. If you have any questions about any course that I did not comment on don't hesitate to ask.
When they say that you eat in the kitchen they are not kidding. Look at that view!
Torchon of Foie Gras with Candied Kumquats, Cocoa Bubbles, and Toasted Brioche
Goat Cheese Gourges
The Goat Cheese Gourges was light and airy, yet still decadently cheesy. It was a magnificent morsel of food. The foie gras was equally as delicious. The rich foie gras paired well with the bitter cocoa bubbles and sweet kumquat. So far an incredible start.
Island Creek Oyster with Cucumber Salad and Cucumber Foam
This dish was light and refreshing. The pure flavors of the oyster and cucumber shined through in this simple preparation. The addition of liquid nitrogen looked really cool, but did not add anything to the flavor of the dish.
Lemon and Lime Fizz
The lemon and lime fizz paired perfectly with the oyster dish. The bright lemon flavor and the cool cucumber was a match made in heaven.
Pretzel and Foccacia with Apple Street Farm Butter
The foccacia was good, but the pretzel was fabulous. I have been craving the pretzel ever since I left L'espalier. It was doughy, salty, and just right.
Baby Red Beets with Compressed Strawberries, Rhubarb Mousse, Vermont Chevre, Cabernet Sauvignon Vinaigrette
This plate of food showed a lot of finesse. Aesthetically it was gorgeous; the vivid colors were strikingly beautiful. Everywhere on the plate there were big flavors, especially the compressed strawberry. It was fresh and intense.
Butter Poached Maine Lobster with Pear and Rutabaga Puree, Celery Leave, and Sweet Pepper Emulsion
Due to the butter poaching the lobster was really tender. The smooth puree of pear and rutabaga had a great body and was super flavorful. The clean celery flavor from the under utilized leaf was a nice touch. The monotonous texture was a small fault in this tasty dish.
Blood Sausage with Potato Bilini, Duck Egg, Truffles, Roasted Tomato, and Hollandaise
This was one of my favorite dishes of the night. The blood sausage was astounding on it's own. The potato blini added the comforting flavor of mashed potatoes in an elegant fashion. As I have stated before in this blog, "Does a runny egg ever fail to delight? I don't think so.". The luxurious addition of the black truffles gave this dish a depth of flavor.
Virgin Bloody Mary
A Virgin Bloody Mary was spiced accordingly and well suited for the "breakfast" course.
Roasted Foie Gras with Pineapple
Roasted Foie Gras was lush, meaty, and well seared. The savory flavors of the foie were so tasty with the acidic and sweet notes of the pineapple. However I felt as if this dish needed another garnish, something to bring the foie and pineapple together.
This drink was delicious and nothing like the commercial ginger-ale found in supermarkets. The ginger flavor was not over-powering, it was subtle and refreshing.
The lime sorbet was served with the foie gras and helped to balance out the fat from of the foie.
Coconut Linguine with Candied Olives, Coconut Powder, Lime Fluid-Gel, and Roasted Pineapple
I have to say this dish emphasized technique over flavor. Nothing on the plate was offensive, or delicous. The olives were cut too big and tasted pretty weird with a gel and powder of coconut.
Rhubarb Fizz with Strawberry Explosion
Roasted Amish Chicken with Spring Vegetables and Apple Street Farm Maple Sap Nage
This might sound strange, but this chicken tasted like chicken! When you get a great product, like L'espalier does, the flavor is so much stronger than the enemy's (Purdue). The vegetable garnishes were simple and tasty. This was another favorite of the night for it's simplistic deliciousness.
Blood Orange Bubble Tea
Veal Sweetbreads with Confit Ox Tongue, Pickled Shimeji Mushrooms, Fava Beans, Horseradish Cream
This dish was beyond amazing, bordering perfection. Every bite was explosive in flavor. I wanted this dish to last forever, but sadly it couldn't.
Roasted Dry-Aged Lola Duck with Sweet Onions, French Breakfast Radish, and Poached Green Garlic
Oat-Crusted Loin of Lamb with Roasted Garlic, Escargot and Asparagus
A perfectly cooked piece of lamb loin was grassy and moist. The nutty oats brought out a distinct flavor in the lamb that I had never tasted before. This dish was interesting and new. I loved it.
Painted Hills Beef Tenderloin with Chanterelle Puree, King Oyster Mushrooms, Bearnaise, and Crispy Potato
Selection of Nine Cheeses
The highlights on the cheese board were the Azeitao Dop from the Arrabida Mountains, which suprisingly tasted like booze, and the tartufo flavored cheese, which had an intoxicating aroma of truffles.
Raspberry with Sorbet (Forgot Flavor), Dehydrated Pineapple Filled with Granola
Fromage Blanc Curd with Compressed Rhubarb, Strawberry Balsamic Tuile, Pink Peppercorn Sable, Pineapple Sorbet
A common criticism of L'espalier is that it is good for Boston, but not good for New York. I am a huge fan of the NYC dining scene, but I would have to disagree with that statement. My meal at L'espalier was the most consistent meal I had ever had. What I mean by that is that everything was good, there were no major flaws.
I left L'espalier happy and stuffed. It was one of the best meals of my life, and I look foward to coming back.