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After 40 years, Back Bay restaurant L’Espalier is closing

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS -- 05/17/2012 -- Frank McClelland of Essex is an award-winning chef and the owner of L'Espalier and Sel de la Terre in Boston. McClelland is also a farmer by day and the vegetables he grows on Apple Street Farm in Essex are used at his restaurants. Brian Feulner for the Boston Globe
L’Espalier chef-owner Frank McClelland, now 62, first came to the restaurant as a young chef de cuisine in 1980. As he prepares to close L’Espalier next week, he says, “I want to go out on top and have people remember our greatness for the complete puzzle — ambiance, service, and food — and let that moment live with everyone.’’ –Brian Feulner for the Boston Globe

Back Bay restaurant L’Espalier, known for its sophisticated fare and impeccable service, is closing after 40 years. Its last day of operation will be Dec. 31.

“The lease is up, and I don’t really have the desire to continue to do this and renew,’’ says chef-owner Frank McClelland. He is working on a new project he can’t yet disclose, he says.

L’Espalier has been the site of countless marriage proposals and milestone celebrations, hosting everyone from Julia Child to Mick Jagger to Henry Kissinger. Elegant and expensive, it is synonymous with fine dining in Boston. The restaurant opened in 1978, in the Boylston Street space that would become the Rattlesnake and is now Globe Bar and Cafe. Its arrival signaled a new direction for the local restaurant scene. “The city’s Yankee clubs and old-style French restaurants got a wake-up call from nouvelle cuisine when L’Espalier opened,’’ as a New York Times story once put it.

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