I was back in Paris last weekend, and of course had to eat.
Thoumieux is one of these places that’s been around for a hundred years and is too close to a tourist attraction (Les Invalides) to interest me normally. But about a year ago, the Costes brothers and a pedigreed chef, Jean-Francois Piege, took over, and last week, Francois Simon wrote that Thoumieux’s soul was “back,” which was “sans doute one of the best pieces of news of the season.” So how could I resist?
We knew we were in for a treat based on the quality of the freebie bread (crusty and crackly), butter (so rich it’s better than cheese) and sardine pate.
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.
Jon’s “calamar sauvage prepare a la carbonara” was served as slivers of fresh calamari “spaghetti,” which was playful and delish. There’s no more comforting a combo than warm egg yolk and hot, crispy lardons.
Basically, if I’d ordered my frisee salad along with this calamari salad, I’d have had the perfect lunch at Thoumieux.
But alas, the mains we tried were much less successful than our starters. There was a lot more “Asian” influence that just didn’t work out. My pork belly had a strong turmeric/curry flavor, and 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. Especially for 19 euros.
Jon’s scallops were a bit anemic-looking and -tasting and overwhelmed by the accompanying Thai-coconut sauce.
Overall, Thoumieux was a wonderful place to have lunch, because the salads were so outstanding; the servers so professional (I love when tap water is constantly refilled unobtrusively – and oh, did I mention? the servers were extremely good looking); the room so congenial; and the atmosphere so buzzy (the room was packed with happy groups of families and friends by 1 pm).
Though I was eh on our mains, based on the excellence of our two starters, I’d give other items on the menu a try. The place certainly does have soul, and based on our starters, it also has talent in the kitchen. So order something other than the scallops and pork belly, and let me know how it goes.
Our tab for two starters, two mains and a half-bottle of wine totaled 82 euros.
Thoumieux, 79 Rue Saint-Dominique, 7th arrondissement, Paris; +33 (0)1.47.05.49.75; closest metro: La Tour Mauborg. Icing on the cake: Thoumieux is open 7 days a week (i.e., it’s a place to eat on Sunday!)