Sunday, 11 August 2013

Le Fumoir Paris: Lunch and the Louvre

I made reservations for a 12:30 PM Saturday lunch at Le Fumoir on a Friday night, almost willing to accept failure since it was less than 24 hours before my requested schedule but surprisingly, I got a confirmation at 8:30 AM the next day, four hours before the lunch. Wow, that's great customer service! Well, it turns out that great service with a smile is one of the best things about dining at Le Fumoir.

Le Fumoir is french for The Smoking Room which sits well with the restaurant's past incarnation as a cigarette cellar. The interior of Le Fumoir is beautiful in a slightly stuffy, "old gentlemen's salon" kind of way. Because it is literally behind the Louvre Museum, this restaurant is the perfect pit stop before or after exploring the Museum complex. However, now that it is summer there is nowhere better to sit than at one of the al fresco tables at Le Fumoir. These tables are the perfect spot for people watching!

View of the Louvre Museum from our al fresco table at Le Fumoir

We arrive at Le Fumoir at half past noon, with only a few diners outside on the al fresco tables. The maitre'd welcomes us warmly, asks for our name and sits us on one of the tables fronting the Louvre. A few minutes later, the diners come and all the al fresco tables are occupied. So in case you want to go to Le Fumoir too, be sure to make a reservation.

Le Fumoir has both an a la carte and a set menu. We get the set menu. For 24.5€, one gets an appetizer, a main course, and dessert. Drinks are not included, but they do bring still (tap) water upon request. We ask for a liter of Evian(Sosyal! Not! It's the only water brand they had) and ordered our choices.

BFF Liz and the complementary bread basket
Thick cuts of bread with butter. The attendants refill the bread basket fast once they see that it's empty.

My first course: Cold Soup of courgettes, and other vegetables with dollops of fresh cheese.
If you like gazpacho, then this is the green version of gazpacho, with a slightly bitter, thyme flavor. It was okay but nothing extraordinary.

For my main course, I ordered chicken breast with beans. Okay, it was called something fancy and frenchy, but sorry I forgot to take down the french name of the dish :-(

Can I just say that this is the moistest, most flavorful piece of chicken breast I've ever eaten? It was a large serving, almost too much for a single person, but I ate it all because I'm a greedy person :-) The accompanying beans were delicious. I wonder how they cooked those string beans? They were soft but not mushy, seasoned with a red powder, which I assume to be paprika.

For my dessert I chose the intriguingly named grapefruit and pistachio tart. Look how pretty it was:

I was worried that the grapefruit would be bitter but nope, it was the perfect complement to the sweet pistachio tart. The fruit slices added a slightly acidic zing to the sweet and scrumptious pistachio filling. I love pistachio marzipan, and this pie captures that so deliciously.

It took us nearly two hours to finish our lunch, what with endless laughter, chismis and people watching. Kudos to the attendants and staff at Le Fumoir for being extremely kind and really attentive. At one point, a group of British teenagers popped at the restaurant's entrance looking at the menu. The maitre'd genially entertained them and then when it seems that all they wanted was some fast-food (Do you have hamburgers?), the Maitre'd even gave them directions to nearest McDonalds. That's service for you! None of the dreaded rude service that have stereotyped Parisian restaurants.

So how's Le Fumoir overall? Not earthshakingly great, with only okay first courses. But their main entrees and desserts are spectacular, they have great service, one can dawdle and the staff won't mind, plus of course it is just right next to the Louvre. The reviews are spot on. Le Fumoir is certainly not one of those tourist trap restaurants scattered in this area. It's good French cooking at prices that are not too expensive.

Le Fumoir
6 Rue de l'Amiral Coligny, 75001 Paris, France (Louvre / Place Vendôme)
Le Fumoir Website

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