L'Ami Louis, Paris, France
I had a friend of mine bring six bottles of recently bottled 2000 Bordeaux in order to get an early look at how this spectacular vintage is performing from bottle. I double decanted the wines before taking them to L'Ami Louis, and, as one might expect, they were tight, full-bodied Bordeaux that are fabulously rich, high in tannin, and years away from maturity. The two most forward efforts were the Magrez-Fombauge, a sumptuous garage wine that will turn heads when it is released, and the stunningly complex, supple-textured L'Evangile. The other wines were all monsters. This is a vintage of incredible wines with magnificent richness and high tannin levels, but more than enough extract to balance out the tannin.
As for the food, I've commented many times how great L'Ami Louis's cuisine is. This is a place for "real" eaters, not somewhere to put on the ritz. It is the quality of the raw ingredients that stand out at L'Ami Louis. All of the roasted items are pure perfection, brilliantly dosed with only the right amount of butter/garlic. As I've said before, the greatest roast chicken in the world comes from this restaurant, and nothing I had on this visit caused me to change my mind. In addition, no one does a better job with snails in garlic butter. The first cepes of the season had just come in, and they were magnificent. This is the food of my dreams!
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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...