Jean Ducloux opened this extraordinary 2-star Michelin restaurant, known for its 19th century cooking, in 1947. Ducloux has retired, but he spends time at the restaurant greeting his legion of loyal clients. The new chef has added a few winkles to the menu, but he is intelligent enough not to abandon the great classics created by Ducloux. To pay homage to him as well as to great French cooking, we ordered two of his classics. Ducloux literally put pike fish quenelles, or dumplings, on the map. While the new chef's were not quite as memorable as Ducloux's, they were still exquisite quenelles with an extraordinary crayfish sauce. That was followed by one of the new chef's specialties, a beautiful Provençal dish of baby rougets (basically miniature red snappers) served in an olive oil and vegetable sauce. The piece de resistence was Ducloux's famous galette of truffles, a pie filled excessively with black truffles and foie gras, served in a deep, rich brown sauce made from brown truffles and reduced meat essences. The pie crust has gotten a bit thinner under the new chef (he's probably trying to lighten this dish), but it retains the great flavors created by Ducloux.
The wines included a delicious bottle of Henri Boillot's 2000 Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru, and a complex yet fully mature, elegant, fragrant, but light 1997 Dujac Bonnes Mares.
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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...