Saturday, August 13, 2011

Massa - chew - setts

We complEATly expected Cape Cod and Boston to be delicious dining destinations and we were not disappointed.  While planning our visit to State # 21, so many of our friends recommended their favorite places and we are grateful for their advice.  And I did my usual research on the finest restaurants and local favorites.  So in regards to dining destinations, Massachusetts was excellent! 

Following is a list of dining destinations we enjoyed while in Cape Cod:

Twenty Eight Atlantic at Wequassett Resort
28 Atlantic
At the Wequassett Inn and Resort in Chatham
Have the local Bluefish with Saffron Smoked Mussel Risotto!

Lobster Pot
Overlooking historic Provincetown Harbor
Before the Lobster - have Tim's Grand Prize Winning Clam Chowder (say chow-dah)

The Mews Restaurant & Cafe
Tables right on the beach of Provincetown Harbor
Try the Duck Breast and Shrimp with a Popover!

The Dan'l Webster Inn
In the center of Sandwich (the town - not your lunch)
Classic dishes in a classic setting - choose from four dining rooms - we liked the Tavern!

Please come to Boston...
and when you sure to eat here:

Clio Restaurant
Inside the Eliot Hotel (which we strongly recommend)
Start with a specialty cocktail and try the LN2 Gazpacho!
(Frozen tableside with liquid nitrogen)

Pizzeria Regina
Original location in Boston's North End
Serving the best pizza since 1926!

Mike's Pastry
Best Cannoli in the North End!

Grill 23 & Bar
In the Back Bay
Boston's best steakhouse for 25 years!

Originally on Newbury Street now resides in Park Square
Guy's favorite meal in Boston - Delicious homemade sausage!
(Good News: Davio's recently opened in Atlanta's Phipps Plaza)

Sel de la Terre Restaurant
Sel de la Terre
Long Wharf location - next to the New England Aquarium
Brunch here is divine thanks to the onsite Boulangerie!


If this restaurant had a motto it might be - "We aim to please and we always hit our target!"  Indeed, we dined here twice during our stay in Boston.  First, I should tell you that since we dined here L'Espalier has moved into a shiny new space on Boylston Street.  Part of our incredible dining experience was the beautiful dining room housed in an 1886 townhouse on Gloucester Street but I am certain you will enjoy the new restaurant as well.  (Check out the photos on their website - we would choose the Library.)

And the 4 new dining rooms now situated adjacent to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel still have the same incredible owner/chef - Frank McClelland.


At the heart of Chef McClelland’s menus of New England flavors with French interpretation is Apple Street Farm, his organic farm in Essex, Massachusetts that is the primary source of heirloom produce and proteins for L’Espalier and his trio of casual Sel de la Terre bistros. The James Beard chef and cookbook author (Wine Mondays) views his life as a farmer-restaurateur as being on-trend. By living this life from his youth, he was early to the farm-to-table or “locavore” dining philosophy.

This dining destination stands out in our memory as one of the finest experiences in our travels.  We had reservations for dinner on a Wednesday evening.  The service was extraordinary; the food magnificent to both the eyes and the palate and while the space was very formal (I love that) it was also warm and inviting.  In the language of baseball...this was a Grand Slam!  (We toured Fenway the next morning.)

As I mentioned, we loved L'Espalier so much that when our server informed us of their Tea Service on weekends, we hastily made reservations for Saturday.  But let's get back to you have learned from this blog we usually like to order different dishes when we enjoy fine dining, but on this evening Chef McClelland offered the Autumn Degustation Menu.  What the...?

Degustation is a culinary term meaning a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods and focusing on the gustatory system, the senses, high culinary art and good company.  We have enjoyed a small number of degustation menus in some of this country's finest restaurants.  They all share a common theme - the portions are small; there are usually 8 to 10 courses and everyone at the table must order the same menu.  So, we both enjoyed the same 8 courses with wine pairings and we did not choose a winner for each course.  This entire dining experience was an ultimate winner!


This was the Autumn Degustation Menu for the evening of
27 September 2006:

Amuse Bouche
(Sorry...I wasn't writing a food blog in 2006!)

Butter poached Maine Lobster with fresh corn and Anaheim pepper tamale
1999 Westport Rivers "Cuvee L'Espalier, Brut, Westport, Massachusetts

Terrine de foie gras with black mission figs and Sauternes gelee
2004 Domaine de L'Arjolle, "Lyre", Muscat, Cotes de Thongue, France

Roasted Hawaiian candy striped marlin with chickpea-saffron puree;
smoked cockle vinaigrette
2004 Guillot, Macon Cruzille, Burgundy

Grilled River Rock Farm beef striploin;
autumn succotash and crab fritter
2001 Rubbisow-Sargent, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

Grand Fromage
Offley 10 Year Tawny Port

Apple cider consomme with aged gouda and lemon zest

Valrhona dark chocolate mille-feuille
2005 Banfi, "Rosa Regale", Brachetto D'Acqui, Italy

That following Saturday, instead of lunch we enjoyed L'Espalier's Fantasy Tea at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.  Growing up in New Hampshire, Chef McClelland fondly remembers having tea with his grandparents on their gentleman's farm.  Since then he has always enjoyed the art of conversation and sharing delicious bites around the table.  Happily we enjoyed this fine tradition of a full tea experience as guests at L'Espalier.  We noticed several tables with parents and their extremely well behaved children taking part in this lovely custom.  And once we saw the menu it was easy to understand the large number of children in this fine dining establishment.

Fantasy Tea Party

Red Riding Hood’s Basket
L'Espalier's tea sandwiches:

Smoked salmon Ham and Cabot Clothbound cheese
Cucumber with cream cheese
Lobster salad on house-made pretzel roll
Egg salad on brioche

L’Espalier pastries

Make Way for Ducklings

L’Espalier espresso cream swan
Cranberry ginger scones with orange confit

Chocolate decadence cake
Panna cotta with blackberry foam
Coconut macaroons
Tropical mousse cake

Three Blind Mice

An assortment of cheeses from L’Espalier’s award-winning cheese tray served with traditional accompaniments

Tea Selections

English "Keemun Hao Ya"

Finest Earl Grey
Jade Oolong "Ti Kuan Yin"
Linden Flower
Wild Mint
Chamomile Herbal
Crimson Berry
Coffee or decaffeinated

Guess which one I ordered...(you are correct)...I had "Make Way for Ducklings" and Guy enjoyed the "Three Blind Mice."  Did you know that famous duckling storybook was written about the ducks in the Boston Public Garden?

So, that is all I have to say about State # 21 - Massachusetts. 
Before I go I would like to thank the following people:

  • Scott L - Thanks for all of your travel advice and restaurant recommendations.
  • Anita & Stephen - Thanks for keeping the home fires (not) burning.
  • Andy - Thanks for the "Sherpa" service to the airport.
  • Lynn - Thanks for pointing out the Peabody Museum in Salem.
  • Jennifer & Mark - Thanks for the recommendations on dining in the North End.
  • Scott M - Thanks for the great tickets to Fenway.
  • Most of the photos in this post came from our camera; but the gorgeous professional photos came from each of these restaurant's websites...thank you for inspiring me to take better photos!

Massachusetts was one of our favorite states thus far. 
We are looking forward to returning one day on our "Ancestry Tour."

Next time:

"I love a Parade!"
State # 20 - Maryland