About

"The reluctant Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Restaurant Review -- THOUMIEUX


79 Rue Saint-Dominique 75007
Bus: Bosquet-Saint Dominique
Metro: La Tour-Maubourg
Tel:  01 47 05 79 00
Website: www.Thoumieux.com
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

 5 - Star......................................................€€€€......................................................... 1 - Bell


I'm back. After a two-month summer hiatus in the US, it's great to be back. I decided to not have any French food while in the US, favoring ethnic cuisine.  Not even a week in town and jetlagged, a close friend J asked if we wanted to join him at a new restaurant in the 7eme; what a silly question, of course we would. Thoumieux has officially been open for just 4-days, but Chef Sylvestre Wahid worked tirelessly for the past two months to get it up and running. Keep in mind there are two restaurants, the downstairs section is the "brasserie" section, whereas the upstairs is more for fine dining. We ate at the fine dining establishment. He has quite the pedigree, having been previously awarded 2-Michelin stars and has worked at such elite places as Plaza Athénée and Alain Ducasse "at the Essex House" NYC, where he was honored with 4 stars, the highest culinary distinction in the US.

The location is centrally located. In fact, it's in an area we call "Little America" which is in the 7eme. Why do we call it "Little America" you may ask, it's because it's where a lot of English is spoken, and it's also where the American University, American Cathedral and the American Church reside.


As you enter through the bistro, the bistro is actually quite lovely,  pleasant and very inviting. The Chef and his staff cook for both restaurants.  We went upstairs to the the "fine dining" area, it too was pleasant enough albeit the decor was a bit eclectic, but nice.  We sat in a section that was almost like a sunroom.  It was bathed in lots of light, but not warm because the restaurant actually had air-conditioning, a rarity in Paris.  You can can even see the kitchen, granted it's partitioned by a latticed wall. It's not a large kitchen, but what comes out is amazing, which I'll describe later.  Also located close to the "cheese-bar" was incredible selections of breads from traditional baguettes, to seeded breads and even olive breads.




We sat, and only the wine menu was given to us. At first I thought it was odd, but it turned out to be appropriate, since it gave us a time to peruse the wine menu, get some drinks and have small conversation. Also, placed on the table were two mounds of flavor buttered and various salts such as Egyptian sea salt, black salt, crystallized salt and Himalayan salt.










Then the amuse bouche arrived. I'm assuming all the menus got the same amuse bouche, since we hadn't seen the menu yet. Typically you only get one amuse bouche, but we had 4 bite sizes. There was a tart with mushrooms, a salty ham with crackers, a mousse of vegetables and a raw langoustine.  They were each unique, distinct and delicious.





After we finished the amuse bouche, our menu came.  There are 3-tasting menus: "Richesse de nos terriors" (Wealth of our territories) for 110€; Océan, mer, lac et rivière (Ocean, sea, lake and river) 155€ and finally "Signature" for 190€.  We all thought it quite pricey, but will hold our judgement later to see if it was worth it.  Being budget conscience, we all selected the "Richesse de nos terriors".


For our first of many courses we had the "mushroom soup" in a very light vegetable broth. It was served in a very Asian style bowl with lid, which the wait staff removed such at the table. We all commented how good it was considering no animal died to make this dish. And, what surprised us even more, there was a crunch to this soup, and the crunch actually came from the mushrooms. There were some thinly sliced celery to enhance the dish. And there was some nice seasoning (bite) to it. Overall an excellent first start.





The 2nd course was a "cucumber water, cannelloni vegetal, flowers, quinoa, salt with black olives." Not only was this a beautifully presented plate, but it was delicious. It was served cold and you can definitely taste the flower pedals in the soup. It's hard to describe a flower taste, but it's almost like "dew".  It's not exactly a soup but more like a thickened cold "gazpacho" sauce.  The quinoa crackers were delicious. An excellent dish all-around!




The third course was an eggplant of herbs.  I found this dish reminiscent of an eggplant parmigiana, but deconstructed.  There was a lovely mound of eggplant in a light but thick binding tomato sauce. It was accompanied by a salad of greens with arugula being prominent with a light, but tangy vinaigrette dressing. And, to top it off literally, was shredded parmigiana lightly covering the dish. Not stopping there, the dish was also accompanied by another bowl of mushroom soup, with large whole mushrooms, but this time the broth was richer. I guess mushrooms are in season. The dish was a bit under salted, and a lightbulb went on.  Most of the dishes were under salted, hence, the salts at the table,  so you can salt your dish to taste/likimg, my personal favorite was the Egyptian salt.


For the fourth course we had lamb with a nice flavored jus. The lamb was cooked to my liking, pink, but not "bleu" (almost rare) as most French like.  The middle piece was purposely cooked a tad more to give the taster a variety of "wellness". It was a simple dish, but packed with lots of flavor.






Our fifth course was the cheese course. The restaurant actually has a cheese bar where you walk up to the bar and select what cheeses you want, and then they'll slice it and bring it to your table. The selections of cheeses were incredible from mild cheeses to very strong, pungent cheeses. They also had various jams to accompany the cheeses. And, with the cheese course they gave us "fig" bread. Too sweet for my taste, but it is common to have something sweet e.g., even honey, with cheeses to bring out the flavors. This was one of my favorite courses.







The sixth course was actually a series of several desserts. I opted not to have any desserts because at this point I could not eat any more. I was literally stuffed like goose readying for fois gras.

The principle dessert was fig dessert accompanied with a quenelle of olive flavored ice cream and a petite gateaux.

















Then when we thought all was said and done, we received a grouping of various petit fours from chocolate to apricot, accompanied with various flavored mousses.  All distinct in design and flavors and were delicious.  And, then the dessert finale was various types of financiers which can be dipped in a very rich, rich creamy chocolate, common to what you get at "Angelina's chocolatier".













The wines we ordered were excellent, albeit the L'Étoile had an interesting smell, but regardless we really liked the flavor and composition of the wine.  J used the parallel example of the white wine as akin to durian, smells awful, but tastes delicious.  I don't think I'd go that far, but I truly enjoyed it.

SUMMARY:

Since the "fine dining" area was just open for a few days, the only customers were either reporters or food bloggers like ourselves.  Chef Sylvestre came out to greet us and was actually apologetic that it wasn't as perfect as he would've liked it to be. Could've surprised me. Everything ran smoothly.

You can definitely see the Chef's influence of fine dining. There was a cadre of staff. Although they were new to their job, they were very synchronized and knew exactly what they were doing. They had a wine steward, a primary head waiter and his staff of assistants. In fact, most of our dishes were served covered and they synchronized their opening of the dishes. And, for the main course you were given "Christofle" etched sterling silver utensils, very impressive.

One wait staff was gloved and served us a variety of different breads. And, if you need to go to the restroom, they will actually accompany you. What I thought was interesting was any time you left the table to e.g., go to the restroom, your napkin was replaced with a new one. Not even "le Grand Vefour" did this (refer to my preview). And, they changed out the napkins for dessert with a smaller gray colored napkin.

The food is under-salted, and there's a reason for this. They provide you with a variety of different salts that you can add. I liked this a lot, not only for controlling your salt, since oftentimes food in France is over-salted, but you can select which flavor salt you want to add.

If I have any criticism at all, I think the desserts were over the top, and lots of it. This is more personal than anything else because I try to avoid sugar and/or desserts.  Overall this is fine dining well worth the price tag. Similar restaurants in this food category and restaurants would be double if not triple the price. I was extremely surprised they were only open 4-days! Wow! Would I go again, ABSOLUTELY, but I'd have to save my "centimes" (pennies) in preparation.  Our bill with 2-bottles of wine and coffee came to 446€ for 3-people, so about 148€  ($166) per person.


















4 comments :

  1. It seems your return to Paris started out with good fortune in the form a wonderful new dining experience. Everything sounds delicious and I'm not a fan of cold soup but I'm intrigued by this one. By the way, I had a nice conversation with the administrator for the new Paris Art Deco Society and we are getting closer to picking a date for me to come to Paris and give my talk on Erte. Fingers crossed.

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  2. Yes, we were very lucky. Although the food was excellent, I'm actually not a big eater. Good luck, my fingers and toes are crossed.

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  3. Nice review as always, Randy. I'm re-reading some of your posts about Paris now and have to say you've done an excellent job of giving really solid, useful recommendations. - AAG

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