Lunch - Chez Catherine
This has been one of my favorite bistros since the days when it was located behind the opera. Catherine, the attractive red-haired chef/owner, has moved uptown into a contemporary, artistic salon with more sophisticated cooking than I remember from years past. To my surprise, I had lunch with my favorite chef, Daniel Boulud, who was in Paris on a mission to buy some top quality Limoges from one of the most revered houses of this expensive tableware, Bernardaud. As one would expect, the wines were spectacular. The 2001 Vernay Condrieu Coteaux du Vernon, one of the great examples of this luxury cuvée, was followed by the 1998 Vieux-Télégraphe Châteauneuf du Pape. I asked the sommelier to decant the bottle since this wine has been closed since it was bottled. My experience has shown that Vieux-Télégraphe requires a good 4-5 years of bottle age before it begins to emerge from a surprisingly dormant state. At first it revealed nothing other than a deep color and substantial size in the mouth. Within 30 minutes of being decanted, it began to blossom, but owners should probably hold off drinking it for another 2-4 years. The spectacular 1999 Jamet Côte Rôtie (we ended up drinking two bottles it was so good) was pure sex. Its inky/ruby/purple color was accompanied by loads of animal fur, bacon fat, and cassis characteristics presented in an opulent, full-throttle style that was impossible to resist.
The food was classic Chez Catherine ... impeccably prepared and extremely flavorful. The service was top-notch. I would eat here more frequently if there were not so many other choices in Paris.
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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...