This was our third trip to this small bistro in Mount Vernon and perhaps the best yet. The menu at Marie Louis is full of great dishes that are reasonably priced with many superb appetizers and specialty desserts from their incredible display cases at the entry. This is a very popular restaurant with a neighborhood following. You routinely see diners coming in for only a late night dessert specialty and a coffee or martini. The regular menu has a broad selection of French, Italian and Mediterranean entrees.
The appetizer list includes a charcuterie plate of assorted meats and pate’s. It’s the one thing I allow myself to step outside the limits of my newly imposed diet to add to the meal. Four of us shared small portions of delicious country pate, fois gras, dried beef and salami with olives and a tangy mustard and cornichons. I do believe it would be a tad better if toast points were provided but I heard no complaints as there was ample fresh sliced baguette at the table. This is one of my dining weaknesses that add cost to a meal out but which can also make it special to share such an appetizer with friends.
Of the other appetizers offered a friend chose the Decadent Egg, a halved soft – boiled egg smothered in lump crabmeat and sturgeon caviar. Everyone else initialy turned their noses up at the suggestion of this oddity but in the end my friend had to fight off the attacks of other forks from around the table. The Decadent Egg is truly much more wonderful than it may sound and I’d like to find a way to work this delicate concoction into my weekly Sunday breakfast. Hmm, hominy & sturgeon caviar?
Of the entree specials, two ordered the tempura battered soft shell crab and were blown away, the other two at our table ordered for the filet mignon served over garlic mashed potatoes with bleu cheese and a demi-glace. They had to settle for, well, tender filet mignon portions. I heard no complaints.
Those of us with the soft crabs were delighted to find that the entrée consisted of two enormous soft crabs in a beautiful presentation with fried green tomato slices and a delicious tomato-corn relish. The tempura batter was a magnificent compliment to the delicate crabs, which were as tender as they should be.
Soft crabs, you either love ‘em or hate ‘em and if you like them you are
probably nuts for them and would just as soon eat them in a white bread sandwich with lettuce and tomato but oh brother they can reach a new height in a preparation like the one at Marie Louise Bistro.
They specialize in desserts at the Bistro and the dessert tray provided choices from over a dozen of these delicacies. There is pot du crème caramel, fruit tarts, assorted layered cakes, tira misu, and so on. I scored the prize of the evening with the chocolate covered pistachio brulee. While I’m not a big dessert fan, this one almost made me one.
We shared a bottle of wonderfully dry Pinot Grigio with dinner; the wine list has sufficient choices of all moderately priced bottles. Monday nights at the Bistro are $6.00 martini nights and one among us guest had their pear martini special and pronounced it beneficial for the soul.
I should mention that our service at Marie Louise Bistro has always been very good but was even better this night as Bulat, one of the original waiters on staff, gave us expert attention. You can sense he is very proud of the preparations coming out of the kitchen.
Parking is conveniently located on a huge public lot next door which officially closes at 6 PM so diners at the Bistro and the many others nearby restaurants park for free – although this is isn't advertised as such. The restaurant is a maximum of 40 minutes from Finksburg and easily accessed via the JFX to St. Paul St. to Madison and then northwards two blocks away on Charles Street. Getting home is to simply turn left onto Charles and enter the JFX near Penn Station.
Marie Louise Bistro, 904 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, 410-385-9946