Les Sablons Harvard Square Cambridge MA

Firstly, in the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I are huge fans of the Harker/Sewell restaurant group (Eastern Standard/ICOB/Row 34/Branchline) and so were expecting to enjoy our meal at Les Sablons last evening very much.

True to the rest of their empire, Les Sablons is a great addition, though it is the most expensive of their restaurants.

Everything was really wonderful, so I’ll just list what we had.

First Course:
Kumamoto and Aunt Dotty’s oysters. I love small oysters, and Kumamoto’s may be my favorite. The Aunt Dotty’s from MA were also small, briny, and delicious.

Live Scallop - Special for the night, raw fresh scallop, sliced , placed back in the shell with a micro green salad and hazelnut gastrique. Phenomenally fresh, light, and the scallops were quite sweet. I dislike the taste of fully cooked scallops, so I tend to only order them when they are raw.

Second course: We split the Rye Spaghetti with pesto, black trumpet mushrooms, peas, and parmesan. This is a very simple dish, but it blew us away with it’s complex flavors. Also, it’s always nice when you say that you’re going to split an appetizer that the waiter asks if they can split it for you in the kitchen. I could have eaten the full dish, though!

Mains: My wife had the Rohan Duck with fava leaves, potato cake, and roasted cherries. She’s not a huge fan of duck (but did not want fish, or beef), and she really enjoyed it. I had two slices, and the duck was cooked perfectly medium rare, and was excellent with the accompaniments.

I had the Striped sea bass with olives, tomatoes, and a saffron sauce. This too was perfectly cooked and seasoned.

We had several cocktails from their list, and one off menu, all of which were excellently mixed by Ryan who previously slung drinks at The Hawthorne. My wife wanted a glass of wine with her duck, and the waiter suggested an excellent Gamay which paired perfectly.

For dessert we had two classic French desserts, the Paris Brest which had a mango cream, and the chocolate crepe cake which had about 20 layers of crepes. Both were phenomenal.

As with all of this groups restaurants, service was excellent (if a little too enthusiastic at points on the part of our waiter - though I’ll take that over indifference).

Again, not cheap, the total with slightly higher than 20% tip was about $340, so I won’t be going there as often as I go to their other places, but I will return.

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Sounds wonderful, have been curious about this spot and now I know a lot more than I did, thanks!

that is a great sounding meal! thanks for the write up.

Not surprised, we are also huge fans of that group. Thanks for the report!

When I heard they were opening in the neighborhood, I hoped for something more in line with Row 34 or ICOB where I could get a spectacular shellfish tower and leave happy. Les Sablons is definitely a different animal. The space is beautiful, relatively quiet and they are definitely aiming for fine dining.

We didn’t have a full meal at Les Sablons but rather stopped in for drinks and a few plates at the downstairs bar. Jackson was behind the bar, so the cocktails were fantastic and worth the price of admission ($14 for a negroni). We found the food to range from excellent to unremarkable. Some bites were fantastic, and some fell flat.

  • Live scallop: As mentioned above delicious. I as well am a sucker for fresh live scallops.
  • Seared white asparagus with anchovy and green garlic: the WHITE asparagus in this dish and accompaniments were delicious. Unfortunately, more than half of the asparagus on the plate was traditional and not white asparagus (and not nearly as tasty).
  • Beets and radishes with quinoa and roasted greens: my wife who drives us to eat healthy described this as her perfect meal. I, who don’t mind healthy fare, found this dish to be very bland and under seasoned.
  • King crab cocktail: delicious, but I would have required 2 portions to have enough to be satisfied.
  • Oysters: they oysters were fine, however I found their selection of oysters to be trying a bit too hard to be unique in that they were purposely focusing on the smaller oysters. the east coast varieties we tried were fine, nothing special. I tend to save the west coast oysters for when I am on the west coast.

At the end of the day over $200 for a few drinks and small plates is pretty steep. I don’t mind paying for food, but I’m not willing to pay $300+ in this area for a meal that isn’t remarkable. Again, I’ll pay this at Cafe Sushi, and I’ll pay it at Tasting Counter once a year. It’s tough to think of other places in the area that justify this price point for a non business dinner. I’m glad the Harker group has their fine dining outpost, but for me the food at Les Sablons isn’t special or memorable enough to justify the price point.

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I’ve not been myself, but my hubby would 100% concur with you. He and one other guy were invited to a business dinner there a couple of weeks ago. B enjoyed himself but found himself stunned at the prices and then hungry on his bike ride home. He offered to go with me, but there are 1,000,000 other places I’d rather try (and, while I’m not a big Eastern Standard fan, I do like both ICOB and Branchline a lot).

The kicker was, the guys went dutch. There was no offer to take care of the bill by the guy who had arranged the dinner. The nerve!

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that’s cold!

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If someone invites you to a business dinner they should pay (unless they are a big client with their hand out). While frustrating, that type of behavior can give you a good read on who you want to do business and/or hang out with.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold