In Paris for the day I’d booked Le Fumoir on the basis of good ratings and its location – half an hour’s stroll from Victor Hugo’s gaff (v good) and virtually next door to the Louvre, for which I’d booked a 3 o’clock entry. It was hot.
Yes, it was so hot that I was tempted to roll my sleeves up. But I kept a stiff upper lip about it.
Salvation came in the form of an ice cold towel presented to us by the waiter barely before we’d sat down. It was the best thing I’ve had in a restaurant this year bar none. Cold towel applied to brow, cheeks, back of neck and wrists put me in a very good frame of mind.
As well as being hot I was also very thirsty. Fortunately our friends at Le F had a solution for that too. One side of the table got a negroni while I had a dolce vita. Freshly made cocktails fizzy sour and poured over a colossal goblet full of ice. Already Le Fumoir had become one of my favourite places on earth.
We contemplated the room. Fans spinning lazily from the ceiling over a mixture of workers lunching, well-heeled tourists and one middle aged couple engaged periodically in sucking each other’s face off in between pecking at their food. An eclectic crowd. All this in a subdued light with blinds half drawn to allow a discreet view of the passing trade of standard issue bumbag charabancists, their adipose tissue visibly melting as they slithered their way to take selfies in front of Renaissance art.
Our waiter, who made Bradley Cooper seem a second rate Marty Feldman, was out of the French Old Skool. Formal but willing to chat if it was to a purpose. They have a prix fixe menu at lunch of three courses for €27 which even in these troubled times of the sterling drop seemed an incredible bargain. Courgette velouté (still looking for chills) was gorgeously smooth and then bass with celeriac, all excellent. The bread kept coming and was helped along with a Domaine des Schistes (‘An excellent choice’) and I was seriously considering selling everything I had in London to move into Le Fumoir. We couldn’t resist dessert and so combined coffee by taking an affogato each. The total bill for two was just over €100, which is an absolute snip.
Our next stop was the Louvre where we spurned the hordes to seek out Chardin and Poussin, two painters guaranteed to take the feverish mess out of any day. Having gorged on them we couldn’t resist another stop in Le Fumoir on the way to the station for their happy hour. This time we sat at the bar while another male model, this time trained as a mixologist, made us a mint julep and a Tom Collins.
To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here
Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).