Yannick Aleno must be one of the youngest Michelin chefs to have garnered three stars at the Hotel Meurice, which he did in 2007. This sumptuous restaurant is somewhat reminiscent of the Michelin three-star restaurant in the Hotel Paris in Monte Carlo. It also has a fabulous bar that appears to be a hot bed of activity that readers who only want a glass or two of wine may enjoy. I’m rarely that impressed with three-star cuisine these days, but I thought Aleno’s cooking was brilliant. Its creativity was matched by the intensity of flavors. Before our arrival I had requested Piedmontese white truffles, and he delivered them in abundance. My two favorite courses included the perfectly cooked farm eggs with shaved white truffles on top, and the absolutely sublime chicken quenelle with white truffles cooked en croute in a broth that was unbelievably rich and intense. The interior of the restaurant is striking, and the service, for a three-star restaurant, was very professional and not the least bit condescending or overly stuffy, which I admire.
As for the wines, we had a couple of glasses of Champagne followed by the 2004 Rayas Châteauneuf du Pape. The latter wine was delicate and Burgundian for a Châteauneuf du Pape, with a light ruby color and sweet kirsch, balsam wood and loamy soil notes. Medium-bodied as well as fully mature, it did not overwhelm the delicacy of Aleno’s cuisine. This restaurant certainly merits all three stars for a lot of reasons – brilliant cuisine, impeccable service, extraordinary ambiance, and the creative genius of Yannick Aleno.
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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...