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L'Espalier Still Worthy of Three and Half Stars

Photos: Cal Bingham

Sure the high-profile L'Espalier, which opened in 1978 and has moved twice, is one of the best-known restaurants in Boston, but is it really any good, and has it stood the test of time? Damn straight, says Devra First in her latest Globe review. In fact, she gives the Back Bay restaurant a near-perfect score of three and a half out of four stars. But is it stuck in the past? Nope: "When it comes to food, one meal here dispels any notions of hewed-to traditionalism." A dish of Wellfleets in a sauce of smoked bone marrow, charred leeks and sea beans is "Maine’s oyster stew wearing opera gloves." The food is great, but the service, including staff who perform "with the concentration of acrobats" is what tips the experience over the edge. So what's not to like? The Asian pear ice cream pellets are a tad sticky. [BG]

Corby Kummer reviews Sam's at Louis, which made the Eater Boston Ultimate Waterfront Dining Guide one day earlier, for Boston Magazine. It's a mixed bag at this restaurant within a clothing store, which probably also sells a mix of bags. On the one hand, Kummer loves the view, which is "enough to make you feel like you’re discovering the city anew." On the other hand, the modern design elements create "a noisy room." Dishes like fries "seem like superior bar food" while others including rib-eye with haricot verts "have the polish of a downtown restaurant" and generally the food "feels comfortable and eager to please." Though the asparagus salad missteps with "too much salt and nearly raw asparagus" the brownie sundae is "gloppy, straightforward, and friendly." Stick to that kind of stuff here, suggests Kummer. [BM]

MC Slim JB takes on Michael Schlow's new Fenway venture Happy's Bar + Kitchen in STUFF. The piece closes with a mention of the "Portuguese Fisherman’s Stew? Fall River Style," which Slim describes as "a perfectly cooked oblong of pristine cod fillet, a half-dozen similarly perfect littlenecks, diced potatoes, and a superb tomato-based broth that garners punchy fire and smoke from a load of minced chouriço." Not bad for a restaurant that will surely be accused of having an identity crisis. "Michael Schlow can do anything he wants," observes Slim, noting the not entirely disparate elements of "Jewish delicatessen, the American diner, and the neighborhood pub" that come together here in a cartoonish, graffitied space. The presence of "skillfully executed, deeply flavored dishes" like the Portuguese Fisherman's Stew can and apparently do save the day. [STUFF]

Boston's Hidden Restaurants checks out Ashmont Grill in Dorchester, which debuted with "a lot of hype" but "isn't quite a household name these days," hence its qualification as a "hidden" restaurant. The "vaguely industrial overall feel" to the dining area makes it a bit noisy, but outside there is the urban rarity of the tree-lined patio complete with fire pit. The burger is "outstanding," ribs are "fall-apart tender" and carrot cake is "marvelously rich and moist." Overall, the restaurant "continues to impress." [BHR]

Sam's

60 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210 617-295-0191 Visit Website

Ashmont Grill

555 Talbot Avenue, , MA 02124 (617) 825-4300 Visit Website

Happy's Bar and Kitchen

1363 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215 857 753 4100 Visit Website

L'Espalier

774 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

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