The Salon at L'espalier

For those of you who don't know, L'espalier is the best restaurant ever. Okay, I may be biased, but at the very least it's MY favorite, and if you keep reading, you'll see why.

I stopped by L'espalier Saturday night for dinner, and although they were very busy, they managed to find a spot for me in the salon. I had a wonderfully comfortable chair by the window, with great views of the street and great views of Debbie, the cheese cart.

The night started off excellently, with a glass of champagne sent over by Greg Dickinson, the always amazing maitre d'. What a great way to begin! Thanks again, Greg!

I started off with delicious hors d'oeuvres - first some chicken skins with powdered BBQ sauce and duck liver mousse. They were SO good, and the kale chips were a nice companion to the chicken skins.

Next I had to try the new oysters on the menu - Fire River Oysters, served with champagne gelee and caviar. I love oysters, and these are a great addition to the fall menu!

After the appetizers it was time for some small plates. I had the butter-poached Casco Bay lobster with heirloom tomato, white onion puree, and brown butter emulsion. The white onion puree was heavenly.

The lobster was followed up by a dish even more exquisite - Archer Angus beef ribeye with cauliflower and turnips. Yes - what looks like a scallop there is actually turnip, cooked so well it basically melted in my mouth. Yum!

I had to try one of the new fall cocktails, since L'espalier had mentioned some amazing mixes on their twitter feed. This is the cider, made of Applejack, apple cider, lemon, and absinthe, which I can now say I've tasted. I would definitely order this again; it was one of the best ciders I've ever had.

Remember when I mentioned Debbie earlier? Well, I couldn't leave without sampling her wares, expertly arranged by Louis Risoli. Louis knows more about cheese than I can even start to imagine, and he always makes the best cheese plates. Pictured above is a Grand Fromage, because I love cheese too much to order the Petit Fromage.

My first two cheeses were both from Ruggles Hill Creamery, in Hardwick, MA. The one on the left is Ada's Honor, and the one of the right is Greta's Fairhaven. Both cheeses were named after the goats who supplied the milk, and they were both excellent.

My favorite cheese of the night was Summer Snow, from Woodcock Farm in Weston, VT. So deliciously creamy and melty. The Pecorino Ginepro from Emilia-Romagna, Italy, was not bad either!

On the left is Timberdoodle, from Woodcock Farm, and the right is Manchego, from La Mancha, Spain. Timberdoodle is probably the most interesting name I've seen for a cheese, and apparently it's a Vermont term for a small, long-billed game bird. Both yummy, of course.

To finish off the Grand Fromage, I had Willoughby from Jasper Hill in Greensboro, VT, Tarentaise from Spring Brook Farm in Reading, VT, and Stilton from Colston-Bassett Dairy in England. Have I said how much I adore stilton? It was a great way to end my meal.

I can't forget to mention that the cheeses were paired with some excellent breads, as well as honey and pear jam from Apple Street Farms. I think I ate most of the honey, and a good part of the jam - they were great!

Really, the best way to finish any meal at L'espalier is a nice pot of tea, wonderfully blended by L'espalier's own tea sommelier, Cynthia Gold. My favorite is the afternoon blend, with a little bit of sugar. It was a great night, filled with great food and some very interesting conversation in the salon! Thank you L'espalier!


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