La Régalade, Paris
One of the hardest tables to get in Paris is at Chef Yves Camdeborde's tiny La Régalade. Before flying home from my fall tasting trip, Pierre Rovani and I had dinner here, where I had a taste of what appears to be a super vintage in the Loire Valley. The 2002 Vatan Sancerre was so rich and exotic, it resembled a Condrieu or other wine from further south. The Sauvignon must have reached tremendous ripeness in the Loire if this is typical. Some of the liquid minerality had not yet come through, but I am sure it was hiding underneath all the fruit and power this wine exhibited. It was followed by a gorgeous magnum of 2000 Charvin Châteauneuf du Pape. Filled with black cherry liqueur intermixed with pepper, lavender, and spice box, it is an opulent, full-bodied, still young but approachable Châteauneuf.
This impeccable bistro did a terrific job with grilled lobster followed by a big, tasty, but somewhat tough-textured côte de boeuf. As tasty as French beef can be, it does not have the quality of good aged American beef.
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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...