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

Sweet Potato, Crab & Thai Herb Croquettes – Inspired by KGB Paris

There’s something magical about holidays.  It’s not only a precious time to reconnect with the family, unwind, stand back and gather our thoughts – but it’s also a vital break from the kitchen. There’s nothing more inspiring than eating out and discovering new flavours.

Thai sweet potato crab croquettes

Just before Paris shut down for the holidays in August, Antoine and I headed to KGB in Paris to tickle the tastebuds.  Don’t you love the name, KGB?  When you book, there’s that inner excitement thinking that Pierce Brosnan or Roger Moore could be reserved at the next table – although I’d prefer the original James Bond via my favourite Scot, Sean Connery (even if he came up to me and complained that we’d run out of programmes during the Edinburgh Festival, as I was ushering people to their seats as a student – but that’s another story.  All is forgiven, Sean: I couldn’t have agreed more with you – I was just swooning so much I did nothing about it.)

However, KGB stands for Kitchen Galérie Bis, as it’s the bistro version of William Ledeuil’s Michelin-starred restaurant in the same street, Ze Kitchen Galérie, on rue des Grands Augustins.

As we were headed for Thailand this summer, this was the perfect restaurant featuring fusion food at its best between Thai cooking and French cuisine. The service was just as attentive as its big brother and it was a privilege that the Executive Chef, Yariv Berrebi, invited me for a look behind the scenes in the bustling kitchen. What an impressive team they have that can produce such amazing dishes out of such a stifling small kitchen!

KGB “Zors-d’oeuvre”, cod croquette on basil béarnaise

The menu is almost like a Tapas menu in style, with the first array of amuse-bouches arriving called “zors-d’oeuvre”. I was immediately inspired with the cod croquettes with a basil béarnaise sauce and couldn’t wait to get back in ze kitchen back home to try out one of the recipes in chef Ledeuil’s new cookbook, Ze Kitchen Galerie: La Cuisine de William Ledeuil.

The nearest was his Sweet Potato Croquettes, Crab and Thai Herbs with an Spicy Artichoke Condiment – although I’ve adapted it a bit, made a quick spicy basil mayonnaise instead, plus made bigger portions for a first course starter.

Crispy balls of sweet & spicy thai flavours

Sweet Potato, Crab & Thai Herb Croquettes with Spicy Basil Mayonnaise

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Chilling Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: Approx 30 minutes total

Croquettes

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 lemongrass sticks
3 cloves garlic
240 g tinned crab (Ledeuil uses 200g fresh crabmeat but I didn’t have any to hand)
5 branches of fresh Thai basil, leaves only (chopped)
5 branches of fresh coriander, leaves only (chopped)
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 lime, untreated
3 tbps olive oil
salt

Coating

100g egg whites
100g flour
150g panko breadcrumbs

1.  Cut the sweet potatoes into small cubes.  Cut the bottom off the lemongrass, remove the first 2 outer hard layers and cut in 2 horizontally.  Peel the garlic and chop finely.

2.  In a heavy frying pan, heat 3 tbsp olive oil then sauté the garlic and lemongrass for a couple of minutes until fragrant.  Add the sweet potato and kaffir lime leaves and leave to sweat with the lid on for about 20 minutes.

3.  Once the sweet potato mixture is cooked, remove the lime leaves, crush the potato with a fork or masher (still over the heat to dry it a bit) and add the salt.  Take off the heat, add the crab, chopped herbs and the zest of the lime.  Mix well and leave to cool.

Mixing ourselves up before the messy palm roll

4.  Form the mixture into small balls, using the palm of your hands.  Place them on a baking tray and put them aside in the freezer for 20 minutes.  This will make it easier to work the mixture with the coating later.

5.  Prepare 3 separate bowls of egg white, flour and the panko (Japanese breadcrumbs.)

Roll in flour, egg white and panko

6.  Roll the balls successively in the flour, then egg white and finish off with the panko.  If the ‘phone rings, only pick up with these hands if urgent. 🙂

7.  Prepare the sauce: whisk up 4 tbsps of mayonnaise with 2 tsps of lime pesto (without the cheese), adding a finely chopped half red chili.

8.  Heat the fryer to 180°C and when hot, plunge the croquettes in for about 1min30 or until they are crisp and golden.  Repeat the process until all the mix is used up.

Quick sizzle in the frier

9. Drain on absorbant kitchen paper and serve.

Read about our first Thailand adventure here, then what NOT to do in Bangkok!