The place is called Petit Louis, but after just one meal there
you’ll probably just call it “Louis” like the regulars from
the neighborhood of Roland Park. Tony Foreman himself,
one-half of Baltimore’s restaurant dynasty of Foreman and
Wolf, grew up just five blocks from here. So it holds a special place for him, as well as his friends and neighbors who
share dinner in the best tradition of a classic or country
French bistro: comfortable, familiar, delicious, and affordable enough to make it a regular thing.
Popular standards like French onion soup, frisée aux
lardons (chunks of slab bacon and a poached egg on top),
mussels, duck confit and foie gras terrine are all on the
menu, but the quality of the ingredients and masterful
preparation are anything but standard.
Foreman and Cindy Wolf are famous for using the best
ingredients from farms around Baltimore and the East
Coast, and they were doing it long before the phrase “eat
local” became trendy. But you won’t find them crowing
“Cooking with natural, organic, great ingredients is not
what we advertise,” Foreman says. “It’s just what we do.”
The free-range, organic, black-feather chickens from
a farm in New York are a good example: a great ingredient
and then comes the magic.
Awhile back, Foreman was a guest
in a friend’s home in France, and the
friend’s 89-year-old grandmother
placed an exquisite roast chicken on
the table. Foreman was so taken with
it that he asked to learn the recipe so
he could serve it at Petit Louis. She
Now that chicken comes to the table
in its own cast-iron skillet, just the way
his adopted grandmother made it and
designed it to feed two, carved tableside. It’s a favorite, and one of the most
important dishes on the menu. But if
you want the recipe, you’ll have to ask
Grandmother because you won’t find
Foreman as willing to share it.
Cooking by the seasons is a hallmark of any French bistro, and it’s
even more so at Petit Louis. In season,
strawberries are king. When the zucchini blossoms come in, it’s blossoms
every way. In asparagus season, Foreman and Wolf buy the entire production from a single farm and can serve
1,000 pounds a week.
Cheese cart? Of course. Fireplace?
Come warm yourself.
Wines are also of supreme importance
for Foreman and Wolf, and at Petit Louis
the spectacular landscape of France
unfolds. All the big reds are superbly well-represented—Burgundy, Bordeaux and
Côtes du Rhône—and the whites, too,
from Alsace, Loire and Champagne. You’ll
find delicious wines for any wallet size.
Remember, this is a French bistro, de-
signed for frequent dining.
Nobody does it quite like the French,
they say. But when it comes to French
wine and food, nobody does it quite
like the partnership of Tony Foreman
and Cindy Wolf.