This is still one of the world's great dining room experiences, with stunning service, an exemplary maître d'hôtel, and an historic salon that is a treat for the eyes. The cooking of Guy Martin clearly deserves three-stars, even though this particular lunch may have not been quite up to the impeccably high standards of the past. Certainly his raviolis stuffed with foie gras are superb. The lobster salad was excellent, but the sole meunière was mediocre. We finished with the great peasant dish taken to a extraordinary level of quality, the parmentier with black truffles and ox tail. The service at Grand Vefour is as good as it is at any restaurant in Europe.
As for the wines, we began with a beautiful rosé champagne from Taittinger, followed by the Roussanne-based cuvée, the 2001 Clos Beauvenir from Château La Nerthe, a big, honeyed wine that worked beautifully with the lobster salad. That was followed by the classic, Mourvèdre-based 1998 La Nerthe Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée des Cadettes, which was decanted about one hour before being served. The hour of aeration was just what the wine needed as it is a youthful but powerful and well-balanced Châteauneuf du Pape with great elegance and complexity. We finished with a moderately sweet, rich 2001 Baumard Quarts de Chaume.
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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...