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Restaurants & Bars

Boston Area

L'Espalier--sooo disappointing... (long)

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L'Espalier--sooo disappointing... (long)

annabelle | Oct 11, 2005 10:20 AM

My husband and I had dinner at L'Espalier on Saturday night, and were so disappointed by every aspect of the experience. I have eaten there before and been immensely pleased, and was very excited to have a French-influenced meal after a long and recent honeymoon in Italy, but boy were they off on Saturday. First of all, they really should find someplace else to put people who are waiting to be seated. We stood in the entryway for about ten minutes (our fault--we were early) while the front door continually opened and closed, blasting us with wet, frigid air. Not a very pleasant way to start your evening out. When we were first seated, though, I was excited and happy, and they immediately brought us two glasses of champagne as I had requested when making the reservation. But the champagne was quite warm--yuck. Not the perfect celebratory beginning to the meal I had anticipated. But that was only the beginning. We ordered our meals and made it clear that we wanted to order wine as well, so were given a wine list, but our appetizers came out at lightning speed, before we had even ordered a bottle. We flagged down a waiter and indicated that we wanted assistance with the wine list, so we finally got to order and were pointed to a predictable choice--red Burgundy--given what we were eating (lamb for my husband, fish for me). When the wine finally came, after we'd been sitting around looking at our first courses and debating whether to wait for the wine and let them get cold, or eat them without accompaniment, it was quite watery and bland--really no flavor at all. Which was frustrating b/c I had told Eric, the sommelier, that we would be happy to each order a half-bottle if there wasn't something he thought would really complement both of our meals. But I was happy at that point just to have something to wash down my heavy, greasy appetizer of frogs' legs and escargots, which I ordered b/c it's not the kind of thing you find on every menu in Boston and I didn't think they would dare present it if it weren't very, very good. But it was borderline stomach-turning. About two seconds after they took away our appetizer plates, our entrees were served. We felt VERY rushed, which we thought was strange given that other people were still coming in and being seated, so it wasn't as if we were going to close down the place. At any rate, I ordered Maine rock bass with littleneck clams, and the fish was far undercooked and completely rubbery and unappetizing. I ate one bite of fish, the three clams on the plate, and that's it. I didn't bother to send it back b/c I was so full from my oily appetizer (and I expect escargots to be oily, but in a delicious way!) that it didn't seem worth it. We then ordered a cheese plate, which was fine, though uninspired, and it came with a very sorry looking plate of sliced baguette--no nut breads, or fig jam/paste, honey, apple, pear--nothing. Just sliced baguette, which does nothing to highlight the flavors of cheese. Finally, we ordered dessert, and to be honest I can't even remember what we had--it did nothing to redeem the rest of the meal, I know that much. In all fairness, I think my husband's meal was tasty enough (he ate most of it), but he was very disappointed with the rushed service and mediocre wine selection. And I personally was really shocked that we had such a bad experience--I don't know whether it was an off night, or whether it's going downhill, or what, but it was a discouraging way to spend a Saturday night (not to mention, $400...). Has anyone else had an experience like this? I hope it was just a fluke, though I doubt I'll be going back any time soon to find out.

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