Home > Family, Food, Restaurants, Travel > Paris Dinner x 2

Paris Dinner x 2

December 30, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Frisée salad, Thoumieux

[Courtesy of Lonely Planet]

I suggested in my long-delayed post on Rome earlier today that I was ready at last to move on from our European trip. And I am. But not before saying a few words about the two dinners we had in Paris on the eve of our return to the US. I promised to say something about our Paris meals in my post a month ago on our overnight train ride from Milan to Paris. In fact, I started that post anticipating that I would discuss the meals, but instead got sidetracked by the exciting tale of our late evening wait in Milano Centrale for the train and the complications the next morning of reaching the Hotel Lancaster because the Champs-Elysées was closed to traffic so that Sarkozy and Merkel could jointly commemorate the 1918 armistice. (It was November 11.)

Let’s move ahead.

Here we are, in Paris, late on the morning of November 11. We’ve just seen Sarkozy and Merkel drive away from the Arc de Triomphe, or so we think, and crossed under the Champs-Elysées via the Metro station, so we could get to the south side and walk over to my sister’s apartment. Having not eaten since dinner in Milan the night before, we stopped at a café near the Pont de l’Alma to get an early lunch. Gail had a Croque Monsieur; I had a Croque Madame. Nothing special, but I didn’t want to leave Paris without indulging in that classic meal, and so we did. On to my sister’s on the other side of the Seine for a short visit with her and Jacques, then across the 7th Arrondissement and around Les Invalides to the Musée Rodin. We hadn’t been there since our honeymoon in 1985, when we stayed at a hotel just around the corner, and Gail has wanted to return ever since. Unfortunately, we had to decide immediately on buying tickets if we wanted to see just the permanent exhibit or also the special Rodin-Matisse show, and whether we wanted audio guides for one, the other, or both. We went with the full package. But we were forced to see the Matisse show first — I don’t know why, but the audio guide dispenser insisted, as did the guard — and it was crowded, in tight quarters, totally exhausting us. By the time we escaped, we hardly had the energy for the outdoor sculptures (and by then it was getting awfully cold), followed by the permanent exhibit. But, no complaints. It’s a great place. From there, we got the Metro back to the hotel, rested, then got walked down the Champs-Elysées and got a bus to my sister’s for dinner.

Dinner #1 was at her place, just the four of us, with her doing the cooking. And it was superb. Squash soup to start, marvelous leg of lamb as the main course, green beans. Help! I can’t remember what else. I just know it was great. An excellent wine that Jacques selected from their cellar. And then we got a ride back to the hotel from Jacques.

Thursday came quickly. Our last day in Paris, and in Europe. Breakfast at the hotel, good as always. The Metro to the Louvre. And what do you know? Their principal special exhibit, in their major temporary exhibit space, was none other than a stupendous show called Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice. Had we not just seen enough of them, first in Venice, then in Rome and Florence? Well, no, we hadn’t, and this was a fantastic way to continue our exploration. Despite the many things we wished to see from the permanent collection, the show struck us as a perfect way to bring our artistic journey to a close. We’re lucky we got there when we did. We had no line going in, but on our exit there must have been a couple of hundred people waiting to enter. And then, still not having had enough of Italian pre-Renaissance and Renaissance art, we went directly to the Louvre’s permanent Italian collection. Giotto. Fra Angelica. Botticelli. On and on. And, yes, still more Titian and Tintoretto and Veronese, though seeing their work required us to squeeze our way around the hordes who were paying homage to the Mona Lisa by having their photos taken, photo ban notwithstanding. The guards seemed to have given up, allowing the mobs to have their day. What a crazy scene! You can’t get close, what with the ropes. And you can’t see it clearly, what with the glass covering it. Yet, dozens squeeze into the designated space to take a photo. And nearby, in the same room, is so much else worth seeing, mostly by that Venetian trio.

After working our way through Italy and Spain, we decided we needed to eat, so sat in one of the informal little cafés in the Louvre and grabbed a light lunch. I had a rather mediocre ham and cheese sandwich, which came pre-wrapped in plastic. Gail had a quiche, a far better choice. And then we were off to see more. Of course, we could have spent the rest of the day in the Louvre, but after another 45 minutes or so, we decided we wanted to head over to Notre Dame Cathedral. Sure, we’d seen it many times, but the last time it was covered in scaffolding, and more to the point, we wanted to see it as the next step in our architectural study during the trip of the major basilicas/cathedrals in Grenoble, Venice, Rome, Florence, and Milan. We left the Louvre, walked along the Seine, over Pont Neuf, down the Île de la Cité to the cathedral. After an interior visit, we walked around the outside on the south side, then over to the west side to study more of the architecture, and then we crossed over to Île Saint-Louis. We had a lovely walk there, with a stop at the outdoor window of a crêpe place for a perfect snack.

From Île Saint-Louis, we crossed over to the right bank, with the plan of walking to the Hôtel de Ville to get the Metro back to the hotel. But a surprise awaited us, as our path took us past the Shoah Memorial. Of course, we went in. There’s a courtyard with the wall of names of all Jews deported from France during the Holocaust. And there’s a museum with temporary and permanent exhibits. We stayed as long as we could, but after less than an hour, we had to go so we could get back to our hotel, change, and get a taxi over to my sister’s for dinner.

Dinner was at Thoumieux, a short walk from my sister’s on Rue Saint-Dominique. I can’t seem to find a website for it. I’ve searched both on google.com and google.fr. I can tell you that it is a historic Parisian restaurant that re-opened in October and is now a hot place. Here, this website explains a bit in English before switching to French: “Take one of the hottest chefs of the moment (Crillon palace, anyone?), one of the hottest restaurant owner of the moment (Hôtel Amour, Étienne Marcel, anyone?), one of the most historical brasserie of Paris (Thoumieux, anyone?), shake it up and you’ll get one the most popular spots of the year.” The chef is Jean-François Piège, the owner Thierry Costes.

There’s a review in English at a Lonely Planet blog. The review writer started with the same salad that Gail and I had, the frisée, so let me quote her on this:

Years and years ago, I had the best frisee, lardons and poached egg salad of my life at Au Moulin a Vent (Chez Henri) in the 5th. I’ve tried to recreate that classic salad’s creamy porky glory at home to no avail. But the updated version at Thoumieux finally surpasses my memory of even that long-ago salad. Instead of lardons, there was a rich lardon-infused cream waiting to be scooped up from the bottom of my bowl, along with bites of crispy croutons for texture. The acidic tang of vinaigrette balanced all the creaminess of warm egg yolk and meaty deliciousness. I’d go back to Thoumieux just for this salad.

I agree. And I’ve borrowed her photo of the salad at the top of this post.

Gail and I looked forward to our pork main dish, and here again I have to agree with the Lonely Planet blogger, who writes (with regard to a different dish) that “one of the two pieces of pork belly on my plate was 100% fat. Now, I love pork belly as much as the next girl, but even I draw the line at a block of pure pork fat.” Everything about the meal was superb except for this. Our pork was served in layers, and some layers, as best I could tell, were nothing but fat. Flavorful fat, perhaps, but pure fat nonetheless. Other than that, it was excellent. Still, I couldn’t help but eye Jacques’ veal selection jealously. It was visual perfection.

Dessert? Oh gosh, how can I forget? I know it was wonderful. Perhaps I can include an addendum later if someone reminds me of what we had. And let me add that the room was absolutely gorgeous. A stunning place, a superb experience, a perfect way to bring our time in Europe to a close.

Jacques and my sister drove us back to the hotel, we said our goodbyes, packed, went to bed, got up very early, had a small breakfast in the room, checked out, took a taxi to Orly, and flew to New York. Au revoir. We hope to be back soon.

Categories: Family, Food, Restaurants, Travel
  1. Jingle
    December 30, 2009 at 6:58 PM

    I love it very much.

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