Repaire de Cartouche, Paris, France
This is a superb bistro with a great wine list (super Rhônes as well as other offerings) that merits attention from serious eaters. They serve generous portions of impeccably well-made classic bistro fare. After a couple of glasses of the house Champagne an American diner sent several glasses of D. Laurent's 1999 Gevrey-Chambertin to our table. It was disappointingly acidic and thin, with a light ruby color and no real fruit. It made quite a contrast to the 1998 Rayas Châteauneuf du Pape, a sumptuous, rich, elegant, flavorful wine with loads of raspberry and cherry fruit intermixed with smoke, leather, and underbrush. As it has since day one, it was drinking beautifully, and seems to be putting on some much needed weight. The freshness of the seafood was a notable highlight as well as the sumptuous braised stew of beef and vegetables simply called pot au feu.
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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...