It's amazing when the one of the best meals I've had in Boston so far cost only $24 for 3 courses. Run, don't walk, to L'Espalier before it moves to its new location next year. (Word of the Day: Espalier is a French word that refers to training a vine to grow on wires or a frame along a fence or wall.)
The chef, Frank McClelland, recently won the James Beard award for best chef in the Northeast. The location is in a historic Back Bay townhouse, with intimate dining rooms and a muted yet elegant decor. They only recently started to serve lunch, with some a la carte items and a $24 three-course prix fixe. There are two choices in each category, with no annoying supplements for some of the courses.
The food was amazing, they have wines by the glass AND half-glass, service was great, and I still couldn't believe that the entire meal cost less than dinner entrees at other comparable restaurants. They also have a roof deck where they grow herbs, radishes, and other small vegetables.
What did I like about the food? I liked that it was simple and harmonious. No trio of tastes to confuse the palate, just a focused perspective where you get a protein and complementary garnishes. It's really nice to be able to have more then 2 or 3 bites of something instead of something like "Crab 3 ways."
The meal really reminded me of the style of some of the fancy restaurants in Europe. I almost didn't want to blog about it because I'm selfish- I didn't want it to suddenly turn into a restaurant that would be difficult to get into (well, dinner is but lunch still isn't). But food is meant to be shared, so I hope that you enjoy the pictures- yay for white plates and natural light!
Chilled Watermelon Soup, Crême Fraîche and Baby Radish. Light and delicate, but I almost found it too sweet as a first course. Would have loved it as a pre-dessert or a light dessert.
Tempura Soft-Shelled Crab with Pineapple Relish. I've become addicted to soft shell crab (available right now on the East Coast) and am convinced that this is the only thing that comes close to the Dungeness crab I dream about from San Francisco.
Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Creamed Polenta, Roasted Tomatoes. Tender beef, creamy polenta, a simple but rich jus and roasted tomatoes. I loved the combination and sopped up all the juices with the bread.
Chocolate Decadence Cake with Orange Blossom Ice Cream. Yes, it was a typical molten chocolate cake, but who can resist a fudgy center? I don't really like perfume-like flavor of orange blossom, but it wasn't too bad.
Espresso Scented Crême Brûlée with Lime Sorbet. Perfect crême brûlée paired with an extremely tart sorbet. Eaten by themselves, they were uninteresting. Eaten together, they melted together with a nice texture of warm, cold, creamy, crispy and sour, hitting all the taste buds from front to back.
Cheese Tray. Only word: drool. We had no room for cheese but will not make the same mistake again next time. (Thank goodness the Epoisses container was closed!)
30 Gloucester St.
Boston, MA 02115