The L’Espalier Menu and Wine Bar Get a Revamp This Fall

Frank McClelland has left Riversbend and refocused on his Back Bay restaurant.

Frank McClelland photo by Marshall Dackert for Riversbend / L'Espalier Salon photo provided

Frank McClelland photo by Marshall Dackert for Riversbend / L’Espalier Salon photo provided

A fixture in the Boston fine dining scene is shaking things up. Early next month, L’Espalier will roll out five- and eight-course tasting menus, in lieu of the three-course prix-fixe format chef Frank McClelland has long offered. L’Espalier will also revamp its lounge area, currently known as the Salon, into an energetic wine bar.

The changes come as McClelland refocuses on the Back Bay establishment he’s owned since 1988, which first opened in a different location in 1978. Earlier this year, the chef opened Riversbend in his hometown of Essex, along with Essex Marina owners Lindsay and Curt Bergeron. McClelland’s consulting role with Riversbend has ended after 18 months, according to a press release. L’Espalier alumni Peter McGough and Katie Hallett are chef de cuisine and pastry chef at the North Shore restaurant.

The new, five-course tasting menu will be $98, the cost of L’Espalier’s current three-course experience. Eight courses will be $118, and McClelland’s progressive, “tasting journey” remains $208 for the table. McClelland is doing away with his degustation tasting for the table, too.

L’Espalier guests expect tasting menus, and the new formats expand that offering, McClelland says.

“I think of dining at L’Espalier as a respite from the everyday, and I hope to help orchestrate that journey with menus that tightly focus on our personal, contemporary cuisine,” he says.

The Salon refresh will change up the room’s furniture, and will bring in new art by longtime L’Espalier maître d’ and fromager, Louis Risoli. Lauren C. Daddona, an Advanced Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, has been with L’Espalier since 2012. L’Espalier has thousands of high-quality bottles, and a 20-year-old cellaring program with teenage vintages. Daddona offers classic, Old World varietals, as well as domestic wines, and small-batch blends from artisan producers.

“The Wine Bar at L’Espalier will offer wine flights and a frequently rotating by-the-glass selection to highlight the wines from our expansive cellar of 10,000 bottles that are currently exciting our sommelier team,” McClelland says.

The opening list has a Catalan “almost sparkling” option and a Provençal rosé, as well as a handful of whites and reds, ranging from $9-$35. There’s also a daily white, red, and rosé carafe.

The wine flights include three-, two-ounce samples and to start, Daddona has a few fun themes, including a trio of Alpine wines, called Apres-Ski. The bar menu will also get an update in November, highlighting L’espalier’s unique cheese cart, along with a la carte small plates.

Check out sample prix-fixe menus and wine flights below.


Amuse Bouche

Vermont fresh chèvre, hibiscus gelée, hazelnut and crisps

Georges Bank Scallops
roasted winter squash, duck confit, chestnut and green apple

Wild Coho Salmon
red wine fumet, grilled Point Judith squid, savoy cabbage and potato


Giannone Farms Chicken
boudin blanc, new potato two ways and roasted pepper compote

Honey Cake
pine nut crémeux, goat cheese mousse and fig


Amuse Bouche

pine nut gnocchi, button mushroom jus and fermented mushroom

Waldorf Salad
butter-poached Maine lobster, walnut jus, dehydrated grapes and celery

East Coast Halibut
native sweet corn, chanterelles and lime


Long Island Duck Breast
salt roasted sweet potato, brioche dressing and black garlic

Denver Leg of Venison
braised pork belly, Puy lentils, roasted parsnips and coconut-ash glaze


Buttermilk Custard
candied cranberries, “honeycomb,” burnt honey and kombucha sorbet

black sesame and cranberry-orange

Wine Flights
2 ounces each

Champagne Saves Lives 23
NV Moutard, Blanc de Noirs, Brut, Champagne
NV Beaumont des Crayères, Rosé, Brut, Champagne
NV Lanson, “White Label”, Sec, Champagne

Like Pinot! Not Pinot. 15
2012 Domaine Ventura, “Viña Caneiro”, Mencia, Ribeira Sacra, Spain
2014 Girolamo Russo, “A Rina”, Nerello Mascalese, Etna, Italy
2014 Domaine Lagneau, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes de Brouilly, France

Apres-Ski 17
2013 Cantina Terlano, “Vorberg”, Pinot Bianco, Alto Adige, Italy
2015 Lagler, “Steinborz”, Grüner Veltliner, Smaragd, Wachau, Austria
2014 Ciderie du Vulcain, “Premiers Emois”, Demi-Sec, Fribourg, Switzerland