Boston, MA 02199
Often credited with being the first independently owned restaurant to bring haute cuisine to Boston, L'Espalier opened on Boylston Street in 1978, moved to a historic Back Bay townhouse in 1982, and returned to Boylston Street in 2008 where it currently resides adjacent to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Throughout the relocations, the menu of sophisticated and modern New England-French cuisine, with an emphasis on artisanal and New England ingredients, continues to dazzle.
Chef-owner Frank McClelland, who purchased the restaurant in 1988, has racked up an impressive list of honors including the distinction of having been the first restaurant in New England to receive four hard-earned stars from the Boston Globe. Since 1998 L'Espalier has remained the only independent restaurant in New England to receive Five Diamonds from AAA.
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Growing up on his grandparents' farm in New Hampshire, Frank McClelland learned picking, canning, bread baking, and even how to make his own sorbets from fresh-fruit purees. When he wasn't in the kitchen, legend has it, he was helping his grandfather chase down chickens in the farm's huge coop.
There may well be more glamorous beginnings for a world-class, New England-rooted chef, but we can't think of a more honest one.
From these humble and firmly planted roots, intertwined with training in the techniques of classic French cooking, McClelland has grown into one of the nation's master chefs. Today, as Chef-Owner of Boston's venerable four-star restaurant, L'Espalier, he takes pride in growing his own fresh herbs, rare fruits and vegetables. He also works individually with area specialty and organic farmers to meticulously select the finest seafood, meats and game.
In the kitchen, as well as in the dining room, he is known for his pursuit of perfection and unbridled passion for what he does. The summation of all that he has learned and his love of local ingredients is reflected in the award-winning, uniquely innovative New England-French cuisine he has created at L'Espalier.
It didn't take him long to team those award-winning techniques, either. By the age of twenty six, McClelland had already been a chef in two of the most respected local kitchens - The Harvest in Cambridge and L'Espalier. In 1984, he became Executive Chef at The Country Inn of Princeton, Massachusetts, where he established and honed his personal style of cooking. There he earned a four-star rating from The Boston Globe and was named one of the country's top twenty five new chefs by Food & Wine magazine.
In 1986, McClelland returned to L'Espalier as Executive Sous Chef, and within two years purchased the restaurant - thus fulfilling a lifelong dream. The awards that have followed are far too numerous to list here in full, but a mention of just the most recent top tier would include: Five Diamonds from AAA for 2001-2006, Boston Magazine Best of Boston awards, a Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence 2004, and a coveted DiRoNA award.
In 2000, McClelland opened his second restaurant, Sel de la Terre on State Street, to enthusiastic reviews.