More than what was learned in their formal educations, there is a respect for ingredients, authenticity, and especially for the French culture — something that cannot be taught and it is immediately felt upon entering Petit Louis. Cindy Wolf says “ I have a great admiration for the French culture. I love that they take time to enjoy things like food, the table and family. It is so important as we begin to somewhat lose sight of that in our culture. I think that is one of the other things that is so exciting about our restaurant...we’ve seen kids grow up here."
Nouveau fusion cuisine is not going to happen here; but you will find classic French cuisine that makes you feel good inside and out. Since Petit Louis is known for their classic French comfort food, MCCN asked Executive Chef Lefenfeld, what is comfort food to him? His answer: “Going to a meal and being able to sit down and just enjoy a bottle of wine and get something you don't need to think about too much. Something that just tastes great but is also in the moment of the year.” He explains, “We do cassoulet in the wintertime when it's very cold and you are utilizing the dried beans that are left over from the summer harvest and it makes you feel like you are in the wintertime, or when the middle of July hits and there's a little oil and tomatoes and you know it's the middle of July by what you are eating. It's that smell and the taste that makes you feel like you are in the time of year that you are in. That really is what comfort food is to me,” Lefenfeld says.
Here are a few Petit Louis favorites that you don’t want to miss: Run don’t walk to get the Duck Confit. It’s a seasonal dish that usually comes off the menu in June. It is truly “melt in your mouth,” good. Served with sautéed spaetzle, mushroom, and shallots, the duck leg is slowly braised in its own fat for a tender succulent taste. The Quiche Lorraine is divine, and sinking your fork into its fluffy composition makes the anticipation of each bite even greater. Served with a very light and fresh Mesculun salad, the quiche is made with bacon, gruyère cheese, eggs, and a ultra flaky crust. Escargot is served in a cast iron dish with fresh herbs, butter and shallots. If you have not been impressed with escargot in the past, give it another try...this is the way it’s supposed to be served. It’s tender and buttery with a subtle flavor of herbs. For dessert indulge in the creamy, rich and light Pot de Creme au Chocolat, which is a baked chocolate custard. It will make you want to sing. Seriously.
The French bistro also serves french fries, or as the French call them Pomme Frites. The long thin frites are cooked in peanut oil served in a paper cone with dijon mustard on the side. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, they are devoid of the greasiness that sometimes accompanies your normal order. The Pomme Frites are an award-winning customer favorite and another favorite is Sunday Brunch. On MCCN’s visit, one of the items served was the Oeufs de Canne, which layers baked duck eggs with Madrange Ham, gruyère cheese served with grilled baguettes. This was also a treat.
Though Petit Louis is a neighborhood bistro, the food is world-class, and the experience is as well. If you have never experience French cuisine or gone to a French restaurant before, leave anxiety or pretense at the door because the staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and willing to accommodate. Compliments to the Chef! Petit Louis is a great place to break bread and unwind for a fabulous food affair.
Chef Cindy Wolf and Restauranteur Tony Foreman are the owners of four restaurants in the Baltimore area:
- Charleston (Chef Wolf is Executive Chef specializing in low country cuisine)
- Petit Louis Bistro (French cuisine)
- Pazo (Mediterranean)
- Cinghiale (Northern Italian)
Article by Monica Johnson