Back Bay’s 40-year-old mainstay L’Espalier — a restaurant known for its French-New England cuisine, elegant tasting menus, and cheese — will close after service on December 31, with owner and chef Frank McClelland pursuing new ventures. “Everyone here is a VIP,” McClelland said in a press release today. “It’s been a great run. I just need to go and do something else that feeds my soul.”
To the Globe, he noted that the lease is up and he doesn’t “have the desire to continue to do this and renew.”
L’Espalier has been at its current location — its third — at the Mandarin Oriental hotel (774 Boylston St., Boston) since 2008; McClelland purchased the restaurant in 1988 when it was located in a brownstone on Gloucester Street. A decade earlier, chef Moncef Meddeb founded the restaurant elsewhere in Back Bay.
Many local restaurant industry workers made their way through L’Espalier at one time or another, including some who went on to open their own restaurants, such as Alex Crabb (Asta) and Daniel Bojorquez (La Brasa). (McClelland was also involved in opening the latter.)
For L’Espalier’s final few days of service, McClelland is serving a special farewell menu (see below) that pays homage to the restaurant’s past and present.