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Feb 17, 2009 06:01 AM

Marie Louise Bistro....Baltimore

Has anyone been? How is it?

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    1. I ate there the first week they were opened and fully intend to visit again. The venue is casual, comfortable and well laid out, offering three distinct dining areas in one space. Our server was attentive and friendly. The prices are quite reasonable for the type and quality of food they offer. If I didn't live in the neighborhood. I would have never known that it was their first week in operation.

      They had a few vegetarian items - always nice since most places only include one token vegetarian item. My husband ordered roasted cornish hen and was served a remarkably fresh, large portion accompanied roasted potatoes an vegetables. My food was wonderful as well.

      When I was there, they did not serve alcohol but it may be in the works. Regardless, there is a great wine shop next store so I hope they'll at least offer a BYOB option. We were too full for dessert and coffee but their offerings looked delicious. I walked past it last week and it looks like they've expanded there menu to offer brunch. In my opinion, it is absolutely worth a try.

      3 Replies
      1. re: elnicka

        I thought the 2nd floor had a bar/lounge?

          1. re: hon

            There is a full, well-stocked bar.

      2. Hi robinschlachman - I went on Friday night with a large group of friends. Can't say enough about this place. It's an ideal recession restaurant. The prices are inexpensive for the quality of food (~ $10 - 18) and there is an immense selection of menu items to please everyone. I believe the most expensive option is the filet but you could also go for the steak frites or beef bourguignon which are both < $20. Also, the wine menu is extremely affordable with a number of options in the $20 - 40 range.

        Prior to eating, we hung out at the upstairs bar. I didn't see a BYOB option nor was it offered to anyone in my party. At one point, we had two servers tending bar which was unnecessary but nice. The space is comfortable and I really like the fact that the bar is in a wholly separate area. This fact opens up the restaurant to the likelihood of neighborhood people stopping in for a quiet mid-week drink upstairs or a light bite to eat.

        I had the house salad and loved it because of the dressing. Most everyone else at the table started with the bistro salad and everyone raved. In regards to entreees, there was not a single repeat order for a party of ten. Orders included the boullabiase, steak frites, beef bouguignon, spinach lasagna, zucchini louise and some other fish entrees which I simply can't recall. Again, everyone was completely satisfied and pleased with their choices. Definitely check this place out.

        1 Reply
        1. re: SGI

          Just ate there (this evening) and second SGI's comments. Food is v good, a half step below Petit Louis but prices are correspondingly lower. About 80% French and a few faves from other countries mixed in (mac n cheese w bacon; tortellini alfredo?). Full bar and a v good (and almost shockingly inexpensive) wine list, like the '05 Cabardes we had for $22. Pretty space too. Desserts are from Patisserie Poupon (or if not, PP should sue for trademark infringement).

        2. As I said, I was there the first week and alcohol was not served at the time. Glad to hear they have one now.

          7 Replies
          1. re: elnicka

            Just had lunch there. I wasn't informed by the waiter that they had a bar, but was offered a wine list. i wanted beer but didn't bad. I only ordered to onion soup...which should have been renamed Thyme soup...great cheese, but no beef flavor at all...and TONS of thyme. It was actually chewable! The wine I had was great, and the prices are as well, so I will try again....

            1. re: crosby_p

              if you truly desire and know french food, and how it should be will be disappointed. Read my review. It is only a few dollars cheaper than Petit Louis, and then for some items the same, but the food at lil' louis is worlds above. I wanted to like Marie, brought some friends from DC to check it out and was very disappointed. The service is not bad, but aren't you there to eat??? the onion soup indeed tastes like thyme...and where in France do they serve French onion soup with provolone? where in other fine french restaurants in this country do they serve French onion soup with provolone? it's such a cop-out. it is all about the gruyere cheese. I do not believe that the chef in the kitchen knows anything about the cuisine(have we even heard anything about a chef, and his credentials?). Big portions, recession proof can cook the meal better yourself by using Julia Child's Simply French, and even less costly. I am harsh because i am passionate about this sort of cooking, and it has never ben done well in Baltimore. i am always sad to hear what others think is passable because they simply do not know any better, and if they did, they would speak their minds as I do.

              1. re: LuLuBlaubugunder

                I agree with Lulu: I don't think the chef has much of an idea about the food s/he is cooking. And the hot food is served on thick cold plates, so does not stay hot. I had bouillabaise, made with tuna that had been blanched earlier then barely reheated, and with a dull sauce. The server did not understand what was in the coffee drinks, and the desserts, while being from Patisserie Poupon, were old and had refrigerator taste.

                This place should try to produce simpler food, and do it well.

                1. re: crowsonguy

                  Can a pleasant meal be had here, or is the place such a PITA it should be avoided for now?

                  1. re: chowsearch

                    The answer to your question is "yes," even agreeing with other comments that the Gallic content in the cooking leaves something to be desired.

                    1. re: lawhound

                      Yes, if you happen to be in the area and want a sandwich (but avoid anything that sounds French, such as the Toulouse sausage). It's a pleasant place.

                      1. re: crowsonguy

                        thanks, crowson and lawhound. at least you understand the gist of the cuisine, even if a supposed esteemed critic doesn't, i.e. Liz Large, doesn't.

          2. We came here for dinner last week, hopeful that Marie Louise would be a nice addition to the Mt Vernon restaurant scene, which does not yet have a French restaurant. We sat down, and optimistically ordered a nice bottle of red wine, planning to make a nice evening of the experience. This turned out to be a mistake, as the food was practically inedible, and we cut the evening short by pleasurelessly downing our wine just to get out of the place.

            Appetizer: The French Onion soup was extremely salty, and the onions were burnt. Furthermore, the soup was overly seasoned with thyme, the cheap dried kind you find at giant, just kind of floating about in bits. There was too much cheese on it, which is really not the point of Onion Soup, which is supposed to be hearty, but delicate at the same time. I didn't finish it.

            Steak Frites: The steak frites was completely ridiculous. Rather than a thin, quality cut of meat, what arrived was a thick, low quality steak the size of my arm, which is NOT the point of steak frites. Like the soup, it was EXTREMELT salty. I never complain about food in a restaurant, but this was unacceptable. I asked the waiter if something could be done, and to his credit they took the steak back and suggested I try something else. So I ordered a Tuna Nicoise.

            Tuna Nicoise: the tuna was a giant cut, too large for a tuna nicoise. It was seared at too high a temperature, so that the outside was overcooked and the inside was raw. The size of the tuna meant that it was basically tasteless. The olives in salad were low quality cocktail olives that were likewise too rough in taste and didn't compliment the salad.

            In sum, the food was overpriced for what you got, no better than what you'd expect at Donna's or City Cafe, and even that might be generous.

            1 Reply
            1. re: idepi

              Met some friends for lunch at Marie Louise a couple of weeks ago. I had been reticent to go because a different friend of mine (who knows French food) really hated the place, but we went anyway.

              I have to agree with Lulu, how our "esteemed" food critic finds this place appealing is testimony to the reason our paper of record is in a downward spiral and the state of our food scene is so disappointing. Her lack of standards is just appalling.

              That said, I order the Salad Nicoise and it came with the aforementioned filet of tuna. Not raw on the inside as idepi, but cooked through. Overall, it wasn't a terrible salad, it was okay. The fries I ordered came out soft and cool and the mussels were just "meh,"

              I was really in the mood that day for steak frites but decided against it when I read the description and spoke with our server. Listed something like: "Steak frites with fries" and when I asked the server what the cut of meat was, he replied "beef" - after saying again that I'm asking about the cut not the animal, he then caught on and replied "new york strip." An American cut for a French dish - that was enough to put me off the dish, and after my cool soft fries and idepi's report, I'm glad I stayed away.

              If you're desperate for French food, Marie Louise offers somewhat of a facsimile, but if you stay with the pastries (they're made by Patisserie Poupon), you should be fine.