Specializing in French Bistro styled food and located in downtown Walla Walla, this tiny restaurant has a laid-back, casual feel and is worth a visit (or two). The menu is filled with French classics: onion soup, Vichyssoise, Moules Frites, Bouillabaisse, Oeufs Mayonnaise (or, if you’re from the mid-west like I am, deviled eggs) and Steak Frites, just to name a few, and the wine list is a self-serve selection of bottles located at the back of the restaurant with prices written on the side of the bottles. On this evening, I sat at the bar (a table on the Patio would have been even better) and had a straight-forward, delicious meal that consisted of a fresh, crunchy beet salad, perfectly done deviled eggs, and a slightly boring, yet tasty lamb shank. Once past the salad, I dove into a gorgeous bottle of 2010 Domaine les Pallieres Gigondas Les Racines. This top-notch estate is owned and managed by the Brunier brothers of Vieux Télégraphe and Importer Kermit Lynch, and normally produces two Gigondas: one from a higher elevation, terraced plot of vines (les Terraces de Diable) and one from the oldest vines of the estate, which are located on the lower, flatter portions of the AOC (les Racines). I typically find more minerality and cut in the Terraces de Diable and more richness and depth in the les Racines, with both being superb and always near the top wines in a vintage. On this evening, this bottle started out tight and slightly unforgiving, yet blossomed over the evening and delivered a spectacular array of kirsch liqueur, crushed rock, licorice and wild herbs along with a full-bodied, concentrated and structured mouth feel that continued to gain in richness with air. Showing the brilliance of the 2010 vintage with its classical feel and hedonistic richness, it’s a knockout Gigondas that will continue to thrill for 15 years or more. I skipped dessert, but would have no reservations going back, and this tiny bistro has the perfect mix of casual atmosphere and quality food that’s undervalued in today’s restaurant scene.
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