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“Perfect every time”
Review of L'Espalier

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Ranked #157 of 3,273 Restaurants in Boston
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $41 - $100
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions, Business meetings, Large groups
Dining options: Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner, Late Night, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Neighborhood: Back Bay
Cross street: Fairfield St.
Transit: Copley Square T
Reviewed June 1, 2007

If you want a perfect dining experience that balances old school class with contemporary French fare, beat feet to L'Espalier. With the exception of Hugo's in Portland, ME, this is bar none the most consistently outstanding dining experience we've had. Period. Key word here is "experience". This is not a place you go for a salad and an entree. When you go, have one of the tasting menus--and plan to be there for at least 2.5 hours. Every minute is worth it. And, praying I won't now be bombarded by the PETAites, the one thing everyone must try at L'Espalier is the amazing foie gras. Raptuorus ecstasy!!

1  Thank JWWBusha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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606 - 610 of 643 reviews

Reviewed September 24, 2006

I had dinner at L'Espalier recently in a party of three, and came away deeply disappointed. I have been lucky enough to dine at many fine restaurants in the U.S., Europe, and other parts of the world, and consider myself to be someone with perhaps somewhat above average culinary experience. After reading a number of reviews of this restaurant I expected the equivalent of a Michlin two-star restaurant. What I experienced was a restaurant that, while not truly bad, was "trying too hard" and as a result produced dishes which were gratuitously complex, with "reduction of this" and "gelee of that"; the end result was an unharmonious mix of flavors which did not enhance and underscore the flavors of the principal ingredients of each dish, but instead covered up or competed with those flavors. Bottom line, from a purely culinary standpoint the restaurant was pleasant, but not warranting even one star from Michelin. To be fair to this restaurant, I would recognize that this sort of "form over substance" format for restaurants seems to be popular here in the U.S. (I am a native born American and so feel free to level such a criticism), for people who are looking for novelty rather than quality in cuisine and, so that they can subsequently impress their friends with the (gratuitous) novelty (and cost) of what they have dined upon.

The service was pleasant, prompt and professional, but, again, "trying too hard"; when each dish was delivered to the table the waiter would deliver a rather lengthy description of the text of the menu, pointing out the "reductions and gelees" involved. This was, in my opinion, unnecessary and a bit bush league.

To be fair, the one aspect of this dining experience which deserves praise is the assortment of cheeses. A young woman who was the "cheese sommelier" was impressively knowledgable as to the provenance and flavor subtleties of each cheese. All the cheeses were unusual and excellent.

Bottom, bottom line, go just for the cheeses, and save yourselves several hundred dollars.

2  Thank CasualGourmet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
New York
Reviewed September 11, 2005

I live in New York and have been to many of the top French restaurants here. In comparison to Jean-Georges, Aureole, March, Daniel etc. LÉspalier is pretty bad food-wise. The free special appetizer that came out was good, but the rest of it was not. We ordered a lamb dish - and it looked like they ground it up and served it in an appealing way but it tasted bad. Some of the other dishes were pretty flavorless. This was our anniversary so we felt good about the romantic evening but bad about the food. For the expensive restaurant that it is, the service was not very attentive either.

The atmosphere is nice - the restaurant is in a house and appears to be full of character. If you've never been to an upscale french restaurant, you will like it (good first time place). But if you've had the good fortune like we did to try some really good french fare (upscale or otherwise) elsewhere, you will know that this restaurant is not very good.

I think this restaurant may not have regulars - instead with more tourists and those who come once every so many years, so its not catering to the regular eaters. Its the regulars that generally keep the cooks honest and the standards high.

3  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed August 14, 2005

My husband and I were at this restaurant on a Saturday night at the end of July.We were not that impressed.We are not from Boston and booked a table there based on the reviews from tripadvisor.We were seated in a back room which looked like it was only opened when they were really busy.We were squeezed into a corner table that really should not have been there in the first place because there was hardly any room for it. Having said that ,the food was quite good and as far as the service goes I guess I would say it was fair.On our way out we took the time to look around and noticed that the front room had a much nicer atmosphere. Maybe things would have been better if we were seated there and the restaurant was not overbooked. Let me also say, so there is no misunderstanding,that we are a couple who have dined world wide at many different types of restaurants.This place in our books, just did not cut it. We are, as well, from a city and are quite used to fine dining.I guess you can see, we will not be visiting this restaurant again.Good luck if you go.One nice thing I should add though, is that the restaurant is within walking distance to the Ritz Carlton hotel so that was a positive for us,seeing that is where we stayed while visiting Boston.

2  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 16, 2005

I really enjoy to have a great French meal. I live in Europe and if this restaurant were rated by Michelin it would be between a 1 and 2 star establishment.

My wife, daughter, and I were visiting Boston College and chose to dine at L'Espalier. It was a very nice evening. The seven course set menu was $85 per person and a wine menu was available for an additional $55 per person.

The food was very good ... most memorable was the lobster on a bed of pulled pork and black bean sauce, topped with guacamole and the macadamia nut crusted lamb chops.

Staff and enviroment were very good, but the food is the star of this restaurant.

2  Thank From_Morton_IL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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