Maybe it was because it was restaurant week, maybe it is the new space, but whatever it is, L’espalier has lost some of its magic. The
We went because of the $40 three course prix fixe menu, but the choices did not appeal to me and R, so we got suckered in to ordering off the standard menu, paying another $42 dollars in supplement charges. Mj and Brian mostly stuck with the $40 menu.
For starters, Mj had a lovely onion soup with a small flan in the center. It had a nice flavor and texture. Brian had a salad, enough said. Mine was a truffled flan with oysters, spinach and caviar. I enjoyed it, but was not wowed by it. R’s veal sweetbreads on whole wheat waffles definitely won the appetizer round. I really love sweetbreads and these were excellent.
For my main course, I had the duck. It was well prepared, but again, I wasn’t wowed by it. R’s duo of filet and short ribs should have been great, but we were all underwhelmed. R even said that he thought my filet and short ribs are better. Brian’s Thai-spiced lamb was delicious; the combination of flavors was fresh and new. Mj thought that the spices masked the gamey flavor of the lamb, for me that’s a positive, but I can see if you like the gamey flavor you would not enjoy the lamb as much. Mj was the only one to order a $40 menu entrée (salmon or chicken) and she did well, her “air-dried chicken” was moist and flavorful and it had nice crispy skin. I think that putting the word “dry” next to the word chicken is just poor marketing.
Chocolate cake, banana bread pudding, upside down pineapple cake and a brownie concluded the meal. My pineapple cake was described as having bacon, but R and Mj couldn’t taste it, while Brian and I could detect the smokiness of bacon, there did not seem to be any actual bacon. The other desserts were okay, but not special. The amusing part about dessert was no one got the correct dessert placed in front of them (other than my cake) and we couldn’t tell them apart enough so we had to ask which dessert was which.
The big disappointment was the service. During my previous visits to L’espalier, service was such a highlight. Like I said, maybe since it was restaurant week, the service was subpar, but it just makes me sad.
At least the fig bread is still extraordinary good.