The French Laundry
Thomas Keller is world-renowned for The French Laundry as well as his other Michelin three-star flagship restaurant in New York City, Per Se. It had been a while since I had eaten at The French Laundry, if only because a meal here takes a minimum of three hours, and when I’m working in California, it is impossible to find that much free time. However, my recent trip West was more relaxing than normal, so I had a chance to visit this restaurant and all I can say is
With respect to the wines, the Marcassin Chardonnays, which we culled from a vertical I had just completed, continued to perform well over another three hours. The tasting notes of that complete vertical are in issue #201 of The Wine Advocate.
The cuisine offered on the Chef’s Tasting Menu for a Saturday lunch in early May was as good as it looked, and it is difficult to choose a favorite course. One of Chef Keller’s signature dishes, the Oysters and Pearls Sabayon is legendary ... and rightfully so, but I must say the Santa Barbara Uni, Hen Egg Custard, the Turbot from Brittany, the Four Story Hill Farm Poularde en Crôute and the sensational dessert line-up (even though I don’t have a real sweet tooth) were all spectacular. One can not say enough about the impeccable service. It is a perfect blend of efficiency, professionalism and warmth. I also enjoy the intimacy of the restaurant, which is due to the relatively small rooms where everyone feels extremely comfortable.
This was a sensational meal at this Michelin three-star restaurant, which is clearly as good or better than any of its French counterparts.
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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...