French restaurant in Baltimore: Petit Louis [classic article]

If you’ve never eaten at a French restaurant, you probably picture white ties and tails, with all kinds of unpronounceable and unidentifiable things to eat. The world does have those kinds of places, but here in Baltimore, we have the concept known as the French bistro. The bistro is more of a dressy-casual place, serving French comfort food immaculately prepared. Petit Louis, in Roland Park, is very popular for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.


Petit Louis recognizes that at brunch, some people will be super-breakfast oriented and others might prefer a salad and a cocktail. At Petit Louis, it’s all good. The knowledgeable staff will educate you about everything from a given wine’s vintage to a rare blue cheese to what goes with what.


Petit Louis combines French food with local, seasonal produce – so, their menu and wine list changes frequently. So, yes, you can order classic French onion soup, redolent of melted cheese – but you can also get vegetable plates composed from the latest and greatest offerings of farmers near us.


If you’ve never ordered a cheese course – if the only cheese you’ve had comes from a plastic wrapper – you owe it to yourself to try it at Petit Louis, either as a main course or as dessert. You don’t have to pretend you know everything, either. The offerings are sometimes so rare, even chefs would need a briefing. Your waitperson will be able to tell you how strong the cheese it, what kind of milk composes it, what it really tastes like. The price goes by how many you pick from the cart. Try some you don’t think you will like at all! You will either surprise yourself or strengthen your culinary knowledge.


The French do love a good dessert, even at brunch time. That’s when you order some of Petit Louis’ roasty coffee or a rare liqueur and treat yourself. They’re known for their chocolate mousse, which you can get served in a crepe. If you want something refreshing, they always have a good seasonal fruit selection.


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