Chowhound is all agog over the news that L’Espalier is planning to trade its signature townhouse on Gloucestor Street for a flash new place in the Mandarin Oriental Boston. The announcement comes hot on the heels of L’Espalier chef Frank McClelland’s Best Chef: Northeast win at the Beard awards and many ‘Hounders speculate that the move is part of a larger bid by McClelland to become a food celebrity a la Todd English. This rumor is further fueled by the sudden and vast expansion of the McClelland-owned Sel De La Terre, which has two new branches slated to open in the next year: one alongside L’Espalier in the Mandarin Oriental and one in the “Natick Collection” (by the way: is that really what we’re calling the Natick Mall these days?).
Predictably, opinion about L’Espalier’s move is decidedly mixed. While many lament the loss of the Back Bay townhouse and the singular dining experience it provided, others are excited to see what happens when McClelland and company spread their culinary wings in a larger space. While L’Espalier’s food has always been near-perfect, it’s certainly no secret that seating in the current spot is tight and kitchen space is cramped to say the least. Aside from their obscenely well-priced lunch, L’Espalier has always been more than a little bit our of our price range, so we’re mostly just curious about what will take its spot on Gloucester Street. No rumors are flying yet, but we’re willing to bet that we’ll start hearing some within the next month or so. In the meantime, if you want to enjoy one last McClelland meal in the townhouse, you have approximately a year. L’Espalier moves to Boylston next summer.