What do you do when you arrive in Paris early in the morning, having had no sleep the night before? That’s what happens when you take a late afternoon flight that lands before your normal bedtime. as Nancy and I did. Here’s what you do:
First, drop your bag at your hotel so that you don’t have to drag it around until check-in. In our case the hotel was near the Gare de Lyon, convenient for our later train trip to Lyon. Then walk across Paris, pausing to gape at the reconstruction of Notre Dame, already well under way. Alas, we’d still be dithering, arguing about when to have a meeting to decide when to have another meeting.
Then continue westward to the Grand Palais to book tickets for two Friday exhibitions, and walk around the fashionable area around Ave. Montaigne. Then walk down the Champs Elysee and cross the Place de Concorde and down the Tuilleries to the Louvre to see all the people waiting to get in. Walk to the eastern end of the Louvre, and you’ll be right across the street from Le Fumoir, right at lunchtime.
Regular readers with long memories will recall that Le Fumoir was recommended by our Senior Paris Correspondents, Barbara Somson and Ross Eisenbrey, with whom we trust our lives, fortune, and sacred honor, or at least our digestion.
And what a great recommendation! What a lovely place! What good food! It’s a lovely restaurant, with high ceilings, and impeccable service. We sat and an amuse bouche of olives appeared before us, along with some very good country bread. As in so many of my photos, the olives and bread are pictured here in progress.
Nancy chose as her entree (which in France is the appetizer), a salad of string beans, sweet and delicious datterino tomatoes, shredded pecorino, crumbled bacon, and croutons.
Doesn’t that look good? And it’s pretty, too. Nancy loved it.
I ordered the Burned Mackerel, which came with red onions, new potatoes, fennel fronds, capers, spinach, and samphire (a succulent sea grass). I had a glass of Sancerre, because I was in Paris and, as my late friend Jeremy McMullen once told me, in Paris, you drink Sancerre.
I was a bit dubious of the mackerel, as many types of mackerel have a very short shelf life; but this was perfectly fresh and very tasty, especially with the samphire, which added a nice tartness. I would order it again in a heartbeat, at least from Le Fumoir. And the Sancerre was delicious, but then, when is it not?
As our plats (entrees in the US) Nancy and I both ordered the fish of the day, which in this case was Dorade with a nice hunk of herb butter over spinach and toasted barley with some onion and celery.
The butter melted and was very nice with the fish as was the nutty-tasting barley mixture. The spinach was cooked perfectly, and all of the food made a happy marriage together.
Nancy asked if they would substitute potatoes (from the steak dish) for the barley and spinach. Many excellent restaurants in France, being essentially Mom and Pop places, simply are not set up to accommodate the myriad substitutions that are routine in the US. Here, the chef graciously agreed to the substitution, as per below.
Nancy made short work of the dorado, but I did get a chance to taste the potatoes, which were very good.
We shared a singe dessert of an ice cream-like white chocolate mousse with mango sherbet and rosemary meringues over some cookie crumbles.
Delicious. Just delicious. I wouldn’t have thought that the rosemary would go so well with the sherbet. I need to get out more.
All in all it was a wonderful meal, delightful in every respect. I’ve given it the coveted “Top Places” tag. And after a meal like that, you’ll really need to get up and walk. You’ve been up for over 24 hours, after all. If you sit still for long, you’ll fall asleep as surely as if you were walking though a field of poppies on your way to Oz … or Ithaca. Wander through the islands or the Marais or the Left Bank toward your hotel where, in the fullness of time, your room will be ready and you can take a quick nap before it’s time to eat again.
A note on the tariff: At lunch, Le Fumoir offers three courses for 30€ and two courses for 26€, which is about $29 US at the then 1.12 exchange rate. In France, though, tax and service are included, so the equivalent of about $22.50 with 10% tax and a 20% tip in the US. Find me an equivalent meal at that price in the US. Please. And keep the dollar strong. Oh, the Sancerre was 8€ a glass, a bargain, and a delicious one at that.
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