Petit Louis Bistro

Before I dive into my experience yesterday at this new French restaurant on the lake in Columbia, let me apologize for my lack of photographs. I realized, once my food arrived, that I had neglected to bring ANY photo-taking apparatus. Ugh. And I call myself a blogger. (Well, not out loud.)

My mother was visiting from Florida and she is a sucker for fine French cuisine. I knew she'd go gaga for this place after reading a few reviews. Everyone seemed to agree that the food was good to great. And while there were some complaints about the service, it didn't sound like anything we couldn't handle.

We decided to have my birthday lunch here instead of our Cheesecake Factory tradition. We might have saved a few bucks by going with the tried-and-true, but Petit Louis offers an experience quite unlike anything else available in Columbia.

Our lunch began with a very long lecture from our waiter. He was terribly nice, not horribly pretentious, but the in-depth description of each dish lasted several minutes. Perhaps there are some diners who wish to know all the details of how the dishes are prepared, down to the nitty-gritty specifics, as well as every single ingredient used in said preparation, but I would guess that for 99% of us, this would be considered overkill. If this initial information dump were to be scaled back, the service would be as spectacular as the food.

Nevertheless, we did learn about the specials of the day. And we ordered one of them: the charcuterie du jour. This was a loose pate, more like a potted meat, made from rabbit, duck, and chicken, topped with a layer of duck fat. The meat came with two thin, grilled slices of bread. The pate was unctuous, rich, and very filling. The flavors of the meats came through as there were no herbs or other flavors in evidence.

For our main course, my mom and I both ordered the Quiche des Legumes, filled with fresh, local asparagus and spinach. Perhaps the most delicious quiche I have ever eaten, the portion was very generous. The large slice was accompanied by a well-dressed side salad of mixed greens with a shaving of parmesan over the top.

For dessert, I decided to splurge on a Pot de Creme, with a layer of dark chocolate, a layer of salted caramel, and a dollop of whipped cream on top. Heavenly. The cafe au lait was thick and strong, with a beautiful heart decoration on top. A decadent dessert, to be sure. Worthy of a birthday celebration.

Even after paying the bill, which topped out at close to $90 for the two of us, including tip, we couldn't resist a trip next door to the cafe and comptoir. My mom purchased a couple of brioches to take home. They also have sandwiches, quiches, croissants, and assorted goodies to eat there, or to go.

Petit Louis Bistro may not be for everyone nor for every day. Lunch took almost two full hours! But for a special occasion, I'm not sure you will find a more upscale or a more delicious dining experience. I could not find fault with any of the food. If you love French cuisine, not just eating it but listening to it lovingly described in great detail, then this is surely the place for you! Bon appetit!