Daniel Boulud’s noisy, open-kitchen, open-air restaurant was good, but for me it ranked behind his extraordinary Bar Boulud, which offers a remarkable selection of charcuterie and terrines as well as pâtés and bistro cuisine, his Café Boulud on the upper East Side, his unbelievable DB Bistro Moderne, and his flagship restaurant, Daniel. I have not had a chance to try Boulud’s burger joint in the southern part of Manhattan. At Boulud Sud, the food was all solid, but none of it rang our chimes. Since I was a little underwhelmed by all the dishes, I asked the waiter to go next door to Bar Boulud and bring us a platter of charcuterie and pâtés, which were well-received by everyone at our table. They were all gobbled down with gusto.
The wines were terrific. We started with Aubert’s 2008 Chardonnay from the Reuling Vineyard and the magnificent Beaucastel 2009 Roussanne Vieilles Vignes. The reds included an opulent, generous, fully mature Usseglio 2003 Châteauneuf du Pape Mon Aïeuland 2003 Saint Préfert Châteauneuf du Pape Collection Charles Giraud, both classic examples of Provençal viticulture filled with herbs de Provence, lavender, black cherry, raspberry and dusty, loamy soil notes. Both are hedonistic fruit bombs, but also very complete wines in terms of satisfying the intellectual aspects of wine drinking. The 2005 Marcoux Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes from magnum was still extremely young. It probably should not have been opened for another 5-6 years. The same could be said about the 2007 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum, but frankly, this wine is extraordinary. For me, it is the greatest expression of old vine Grenache I have ever tasted, and one of the single most riveting wines in a long list of magnificent wines and hedonistic events. This may be the single best wine of a lifetime and I cherish every taste I get of it.
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Petit Louis Bistro
A lookalike, authentic French bistro, Petit Louis in Baltimore's Roland Park is the creation of restauranteurs par excellence Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman. You feel like you’ve walked into a bistro on the Left Bank of Paris when you enter Petit Louis. The food is classic bistro, and they do it well. All of the courses we had were flavorful, sometimes a trifle rustic, but delicious in their intensity. This was good comfort food prepared extremely well. The wines started with one of the major surprises for me over the last year, the 2006 sparking wine from Tony Soter in Oregon. I had this several times while I was out visiting Oregon, and I had always been impressed, but this is a 10-year-old sparking Rosé that is just sensational, and I’m talking world class—it’s that good. Something this good from France would cost at least two to three times as much, so kudos to Tony Soter. The 1995 Billaud-Simon Chablis Mont de Milieu was oxidized and undrinkable. The 1996 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos St. Urbain Rangen de Thann was sweet, and although it went well with the foie gras, it was just a little too unctuous and sweet a wine...