Comme Chez Soi Brussels, Belgium
This great three-star Belgium restaurant remains a bastion for traditional food. Chef Pierre Wynants, capably assisted by rising star Lionel Rigolet, still manages the kitchens of this famous venue nestled on the back streets of Brussels, only a 15 minute walk from the historic, still awesomely majestic Grand Place. Our lunch there was superb, with everything impeccably cooked, presented, and flavorful. This is not exactly a place where diners are wowed by creativity, but is reminiscent of a Belgian version of the famed Paris eatery, Taillevent. The welcome by Marie-Thérèse Wynants is warm and inviting, the service is brilliant, and the food quality impeccable, but never flamboyant or overly showy. Everything we had was done perfectly, and the flavors were both refined and intense.
The wine list is impressive. We had a superb bottle of 1999 Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste.-Hune, followed by a fully mature, gorgeously opulent, full-bodied 1990 Gruaud Larose. This is the kind of restaurant I would patronize frequently as I admire the traditionalism, purity, quality, and obvious respect for the classics of cuisine.
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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...