We recently tried L'espalier in Boston to celebrate Greg's birthday. Unfortunately, the dinner was almost a complete letdown. I made a reservation noting the celebration as well as my dairy allergy. The day before our reservation we called to confirm my dairy allergy. The staff member noted our reservation and clarified that I couldn't eat any dairy (including butter and goat's milk cheese). An hour later another staff member called to confirm our reservation and our dairy allergy but didn't ask any questions this time.
We arrived on time for our reservation, checked my coat, and were shown to our table. Our waiter came over to welcome us and again asked if I could eat butter. That would be a no. We opted for a bottle of wine and the chef's tasting menu (our preference is always a chef's tasting or an Omakase).
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We were brought an amuse bouche before we even ordered anything. It's a pet peeve of mine to have food on the table along with the menus.
The 3 small bites were interesting and showed hope for a good meal. The first course was eggs with caviar. My dairy-free version was fine but Greg's custard was too salty.
The second and third dishes were inconsistent. The root vegetable dish had some potatoes tender while others were almost crunchy. The oyster and rabbit dish offered only one oyster to me and two to Greg.
The fourth dish of scallops was disappointing because my scallops were still gritty. The dish would have been boring with more potatoes but the saving bite was the addition of a citrus meringue.
The fifth dish was the highest point of the evening with foie gras in ras el hanout. My dairy-free version was seared foie gras while Greg enjoyed a torchon. The dish had great texture and taste and I enjoyed a savory route. After our plates were cleared there were crumbs on the table and they were never cleaned up. Apparently, the restaurant doesn't believe in table crumbers.
The palate cleanser was refreshing although a tad too salty for me.
The 6th dish was fish with a mushroom "cannelloni." The dish was good but not memorable.
Greg and I disagree on the 7th dish. If you tell me that the dish is a duck cassoulet and then I remove the curry tuille and see only beans I'm going to take issue with it. Greg felt the flavor was satisfying enough but again I disagree. At this point, I'm spending $400+ on potatoes and beans. Very disappointing. It was around this time that we finished our bottle of wine where the sommelier actually said all done when pouring. No one asked if we would like another bottle nor look at the drink menu. Little did they know that we would have ordered more.
The 8th dish was a typical piece of filet with brussels sprouts. The highlight for me was the addition of the lime gel that cut the heaviness of the dish.
When it comes to desserts and especially dairy-free desserts some restaurants rise to the challenge like Morimoto and Victoria & Albert's and others phone it in.
Greg received a lovely cheese plate while I received fruit with basically Jello. Greg's pre-dessert was a cake while mine was sorbet. For our dessert, I was told it was a rice pudding. What I actually received was a sorbet within a cloud of meringue on top of a few grains of rice and a beet. Not appetizing. Greg received a chocolate dessert along with a sad poppyseed muffin with a candle in it.