Date Night in Paris: Brasserie Thoumieux

It was way overdue. A night out.  On our own.  With dusk falling later on a clear Paris Spring Friday evening, I was meeting Antoine at the Brasserie Thoumieux. It was date night. Who says the French aren’t romantic?

Rue Saint Dominique Eiffel Tower view Paris

Brasserie Thoumieux is on one of my favourite streets in Paris, rue Saint-Dominique in the 7th arrondissement.  Not only is it dominated by the Eiffel Tower but it’s home to many other great eateries, patisseries, bakeries and chocolate shops. It’s also parallel to the quiet, hidden rue Bosquet, where we lived for 5 years. Twenty years on, walking around its neighbouring lively rue Cler, it’s filled with many more tourists than before and happy – often embarrassing – memories of being a newcomer in Paris. Moving swiftly on…

menu and aperitif Thoumieux brasserie 7th Paris

… like the waiters here. Service was attentive and swift but with enough time to peruse the interesting menu of chef Jean-François Piège. He’s perhaps more well known for being on the jury of France’s TopChef but he opened Thoumieux (also a restaurant and boutique hotel) with Thierry Costes, after leaving the hotel Crillon 5 years ago. Sipping on our apéritif (white Vinsobres wine – fun translation as sober wine!), we sat comfortably into the elegant Burgundy red velvety chairs while we spread the customary on-the-house smoked sardine rillettes (or pâté) on crusty bread, as we finally made our choices.

asparagus starter and pizza soufflé Brasserie Thoumieux Paris

Antoine normally goes for brasserie classics, although here they had a fun twist like the legendary pizza soufflé to start.  Chef Piège has put up the recipe here.  As the first of the asparagus from Provence poked its head on the menu, I couldn’t resist trying them with this puff pastry flower-pot presentation. Slightly too sweet for me but loved the sauce mousseline and toasted hazelnuts.  I’m definitely adding toasted hazelnuts to this asparagus clafoutis recipe (uses 4 egg yolks, macaron lovers!).

main courses at brasserie Thoumieux Paris

It’s hard to believe I was vegetarian for so long.  As Antoine loved his French take on a hamburger served in paper, I took my time with the perfectly cooked pigeon (pigeonneau is a young pigeon). As you can tell from the terrible photos, there wasn’t much light and by dessert, it was impossible to shoot something worthy of its taste. I went for the simple Gariguette sweet strawberries with a mint emulsion, although I got a strong tang of lime rather than mint which was just as good. (Incidentally, Thoumieux sounds like tout mieux, meaning ‘everything’s better’).

dessert menu proposals by chef Jean-Francois Piege

What’s also surprising are the value-for-money prices for such an elegant address.  The wine list is impressive and can rocket the bill but there are many by the glass and carafe options that are great value. Tables are not too close, either, so you can actually have a conversation at the table – although that Friday night it was perhaps different than usual but it was pleasantly calm.  I’m definitely returning to try other tempting dishes and lure hubby on another date night.

Brasserie near Eiffel Tower Paris

And it goes without saying, an after-dinner stroll to the Eiffel Tower is a romantic must. When in Paris…

Eiffel Tower night shot in Paris

Like date nights, this post is also way overdue. Blame it on being cut off from the internet for nearly two weeks!  Have you gone that long being disconnected?  Ouf!  It’s good to be back. Oh, and a quick disclaimer: all opinions are my own, this visit was purely personal and I was hubby’s guest.

Update 8 December:

I’m sad to report that on returning to the restaurant this weekend, we had an unlucky experience and feel you should be informed.  We arrived with friends on a Saturday night, assuring them this was going to be great.  No so.  By 8.30pm they dramatically turn down the lights.  So much so, it’s difficult to read the menu!  And if it’s hard trying to read the menu, you can imagine that eating isn’t that much easier: we could hardly see what I was on our plates!  Diners at neighbouring tables were also disturbed by this, as we were all fighting for more candles and using our mobile phone torches! Not one member of staff reacted to our asking for the lights to be turned up. What’s worse?  Yes, I’m afraid to say it continues: the service was not nearly up to the same quality as the previous time.  Sadly, we shall not be returning.

Brasserie Thoumieux
58 rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris
I found table reservations were easy by email via their website.
Open on Sundays and Mondays, too

All Eyes on Chocolate Easter Windows in Paris

Somehow each year, Easter still takes me by surprise.  We’re not talking chocolate eggs in the Paris shop windows, we’re eyeing all the chocolate fish and friture that float around the vitrines in time for the 1st April. ‘Poisson d’avril!’ my youngest cries, as I feel a delicate pat on the back shoulder.  If you’re any decent April Fool in France, you’ll probably be sporting a school of colourful paper fish taped to your back.  Two years ago was my record: I was modelling a mobile primary school wall.

chocolate fish poissons d'avril easter windows Paris

These days, boulangeries find other inventive ways to display chocolate fish: what about in the shape of a brioche?

brioche fish tails dipped in chocolate

Fritures have always fascinated me.  They’re miniature sculpted fish and seafood in chocolate.  Why all this fish at this time of year?  Well, apparently it goes back to the 16th Century under Charles IX reign, who changed the New Year to the 1st January.  Until then in France, the New Year started around 1st April and was celebrated by fresh fish to bring in the Spring (following the zodiac sign of Pisces, perhaps).  As not everyone was au courant with this new calendar, jokes gradually poked their April fools and started the custom of pinning fish on their backs.

french friture chocolate fish and seafood

What a clever cookie, coming up with a chocolate cat?  He gets the fish, does he?

chocolate cat sculpture for Easter Paris

The cat has got the cream (egg?)

Meanwhile, each chocolate boutique of Patrick Roger displays his creative genius throughout Paris. Everything you see in the window is sculpted in Venezuelan chocolate – even the snails, but my favourite element are they eyes. Roger’s famous glistening bright green chocolate eye-resembling balls are what earned him MoF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) status.

Patrick Roger Easter Chocolate Sculpture 2014 Paris

All eyes on the French frogs

As most chocolatiers piece two half egg shells together, Roger uses them instead as ears.

Patrick Roger's Easter Sculptures in Chocolate 2014

Spot the eyes?

True, the traditional eggs are still everywhere.  Many chocolatiers offer personalised versions; is it to avoid fighting over whoever it belongs to?  Personally, I’d just go for a giant nest egg.  This one has my name on it.

giant chocolate easter egg as hen's nest

Served with a hen teapot, of course. Ideal, as I feel a right maman poule these days, looking after my teenagers!

easter egg window with hen teapot

There are not many Easter bunnies in the shop windows.  We normally have the Easter bunnies but in France, it’s the bells from the Vatican that distribute the chocolate.  I’ve never quite got my little head around that one. Neither have my kids. If anyone can explain, I’m all ears.

easter bunny shop windows

The choice is huge.  Where would you start?

Eric Kayser baker shop boulangerie in Paris

Hens, turtles, ducks, bunnies, fish, bells, bears, chicks, cats and sheep.  Whatever next?

collage of different easter egg chocolate sculptures

More easter egg ears and googley eyes at Pascal le Gac in St Germain-en-Laye.

easter chocolate eggs and figurines in French windows

Rather not count your chocolate chicks before they hatch, though?

chocolate hen in paris window

While I’m waiting for Easter next week, I’ll just chew on a few macarons with some chocolate pioupious.

Macaron tower for Easter by Eric Kayser

Here’s sone chocolate macarons I made earlier for those who haven’t seen it (posts get lost on Facebook these days!) with mendiant Easter bonnets.

Our Easter bunny is well trained this year.  All because the lady loves…. chocolate macarons.

easter bunny with chocolate eggs and macarons in the garden

What tickles your fancy this Easter?

 

Happy Easter!  Joyeuses Paques!