Fortescue and I were seated by the window of the elegant bar of L’Espalier in Boston, cocktails in hand. Close by, the cheese trolley was being ogled by Fortescue with a voracity that made the glare of medusa look like a smile. If Grommet were here the ensuing struggle would end in his demise, for Fortescue loves cheese with a passion. The cheese trolley was filled with wonderful cheeses and at the back skulked an Époisses, that most delicious pungent, yet delectable, Burgundian French cheese. It is a rare find in American eateries and turns Stinking Bishop into “Bishop” by comparison. It is one of your Doctor’s favourites from Monsieur Marcel’s Fromagerie.
We had made the intrepid trek from the warmth of Florida to cold, wintery Boston. Home to that Tea Party incident in 1773 where a museum here allows one to re-enact the great day (depending on your viewpoint of course). Being an Englishman, one did not partake. Harrumph..!
One finds that dining experiences improve considerably once one leaves Fort Lauderdale. One’s readers will know that it does not excite the epicurean tastes of Doctor Lunch! See one’s previous missive on this if one is interested. One had high hopes for L’Espalier as we had chosen to eat here as one of the highlights of our American odyssey. We were greeted at the entrance and were accompanied to the first floor where the restaurant is situated. It is a classy, modern, beige and brown affair. Staff were elegantly dressed in blue shirts and black waistcoats and moved around the restaurant with well-trained efficiency. The wenches at McSpiggets Ale House in old blighty could learn a thing or two here!
We were seated in the second room of the restaurant and chose to have the tasting menu with paired wines. Service was overzealously fast for the first three courses, no doubt in an attempt to catch up with other diners who had arrived earlier (it seems to be an American habit to eat early). The food was excellent. Amongst the delights of the 6 course meal ($115 +$90 for the wine) there was Lobster tail accompanied by Foie gras in a halibut and scallop ginger sauce. Delicious lamb served with Toulouse sausage bean cassoulet and of course, cheese from the trolley. Disappointingly, the trolley was left in the bar and one could not select one’s own cheese. When one’s plate of six cheeses arrived there was no Époisses amongst the them. One harrumphed…and explained one’s disappointment. The young waitress disappeared immediately and returned with a large smile and Époisses for both of us. All dishes were presented with “Miro-esque” skill which has become the norm with high class eateries. It is well worth looking at the “food gallery” on their site.
The sommelier presented an eclectic and worthy mix of wines from around the globe during the meal. These included a tasty Pinot Gris from Alsace and a full-bodied, rich Greek wine from Gaia which one believes was Agiorgitiko. The restaurant has a “wine philosophy” whereby they source only wines that they have passed their taste test and apparently only purchase 1% of what they taste. Well done!
We had two and a half hours of delightful food in a modern, airy restaurant. The chef conjured up some marvellous flavours and textures. Yes, it is expensive, but it was worth it. One certainly cannot recommend this to you as it is for Doctor Lunch and his chums only. Privee as they say! Tell no one.
774 Boylston Street,
Tel: 617 262 3023