Thursday, August 13, 2009

L'Espalier

Our friends Leann and Josh gave us a gift certificate to L'Espalier for our wedding last year, and for some reason, it took us until one of our last nights in Boston to actually use it. I can honestly say that I would never have gone here without the gift certificate (this place is expensive. We spent $70 on a juice tasting for 2....juice!) So, in that sense, it was a really great gift. It was something that we really enjoyed that we never would have bought for ourselves. The previous two nights we had eaten at Prune and Oleana, so this just continued our excessive "Goodbye Boston" week.

Abby and I both decided to try the summer tasting menu, which consisted of the following dishes:
Butter poached Maine Lobster, Apple Street Farm brocolli with comte cheese sauce, black truffles, and a dehydrated fennel chip. This dish was really, really good. The lobster was perfectly cooke and the fennel chip was a nice complement to the sweetness of the lobster.
Torchon of foie gras with black truffle, Muscat gelee, stone fruit, red wine pickled shallots, and toast points. This dish was pretty good, but, honestly, I wasn't blown away by it. Foie gras and truffles are decadent, but they're also something that I've had a number of times before. I also can't say that I'm crazy about foie gras pates. If I'm going to eat foie gras, I much prefer it seared.

Roasted wild striped bass with black trumpet mushrooms, cauliflower puree, truffle emulsion, fried squash blossom, and dill. This was the highlight of the meal and may very well be one of the best seafood dishes I have ever had. The fish had an amazing texture to it, nice and firm with a crispy skin, and combining a little bit of each element on the dish into one bite created an incredibly complicated, yet well balanced flavor that was unlike everything I had ever tried. Usually I think of seafood dishes as light and delicate, but this was a full flavored, rich dish.

Loin of Colorado lamb with eggplant chips, roasted beets and carrots, and wild greens. This dish was a big let down after the bass. Loin is one of the most insipid cuts of any animal, and one of the things I like about lamb is its big bold flavor. The salad was good, but the lamb was just OK.
Cheese course. The cheese course they serve varies depending on the whims of the server and the requests of the customer. I don't recall the different cheeses that we had, but they were all fairly good and represented a nice variety of textures and strengths. By this course, we were pretty stuffed, so I don't think I was able to enjoy it properly. This was one of the things the surprised us about this restaurant. Usually when we get a tasting menu, the portions are so small that, while I may not be hungry after the meal is over, I'm certainly not full. Not so here. Everything was so rich that by the time we were done I was entering a food coma.

I don't recall the exact names of everything in the dessert dishes, but here are the pictures...as if we needed more food.

All in all, I thought eating at L'Espalier was a great, but pricey experience. The final bill was jaw dropping, and we didn't even order wine. That said, you get what you pay for. The setting, service, and presentation are all top notch, and while our dishes were not consistently awe inspiring, the high notes really were amazing. My only complaint was that we were seated next to a really, really annoying couple that, at the beginning of the meal could not stop talking about their trip to France and, by the end of the meal were trying to avoid each other because they got in some stupid argument about who knows what, but that's a different story.

1 comment:

Sherilyn -The Dominee Huisvrouw said...

As I'm looking at the pics, I was thinking that it was a good thing you were getting full by the cheese course b/c those desserts are TINY!