The best burger in Paris ?
The culinary symbol of America and then of junk food on a global scale, the hamburger has also been riding the wave of refined French street food for the last few years. To properly celebrate Mardi Gras, we’ve tested the star burgers of a few French chains just for you!
User’s guide: the following addresses were chosen based on 3 criteria – a simple menu of burgers & sides; a requirement of having at least three locations; a visible effort in terms of sourcing, quality and décor. We’ll keep independent burger joints and US-style chains like Five Guys for another episode… We then decided to put the initial location of every chain to the test by ordering the classic burger, along with the “house specialty,” fries and one of the available sides every time. Medium-rare meat was systematically requested whenever possible. And here are our conclusions!
The most eco-love
Restaurant: 10 rue de la Victoire – 75009 Paris
With its AB (organic) label printed in big letters on the window, wood everywhere you look, crates of rustic potatoes proudly on display and an extremely user-friendly recycling bin, BioBurger (4 locations) is clearly a fast food joint that cares about the planet. And what’s more, you can expect quality burgers served by kind and dedicated staff! To our great delight, we had a very simple Classic burger that was juicy but not fatty, and a delicious Avocado burger with guacamole and bacon, paired with some delicious golden fries, self-serve homemade sauces and a strange coleslaw (spiced with cumin?), that we devoured more or less responsibly.
Digestion? Harmonious: our biorhythm was respected and our stomachs felt balanced.
Verdict? Incredible! We felt like were doing something good even though we were just eating burgers!
The most American spot
Restaurant: 50 rue du Fbg Saint-Denis – 75010 Paris
With its American theater-style façade that’s aging rather well, PNY (4 locations) puts on a real show with their excellent burgers, but also an annoying sense of haughtiness. We loved their perfect Vintage Cheeseburger, with a thick and impeccably cooked patty, and the Return of the Cowboy with crispy bacon and BBQ sauce. The buns are soft, the cheese-to-meat ratio is spot on, and everything would be perfect if the sides weren’t such a mess. Sad, cold and under-salted fries dipped into flavorless mayonnaise. A distressing Blooming Onion (in reality, it’s a sort of greasy onion bahji) and an underwhelming Wedge Salad (not served in wedges, nor was it generous and creamy like we were hoping).
Digestion? Difficult: swept away by our excitement, we gobbled up our burgers in under 4 minutes.
Verdict? Go for the burgers, and just the burgers.
The biggest bummer
Restaurant: 44 rue d’Argout – 75002 Paris
Unlike the beautiful décor of its new locations, the first Blend (6 locations now) is a black and somewhat tired cubic space. What should you expect? Friendly staff, blonde wood tables, but disappointing burgers this time around. The Hamb was decent enough, despite being overcooked, thanks to the Blend sauce that is sweetly reminiscent of a Big Mac. The Signature burger – extremely French with caramelized onions, Roquefort and spinach – was more like a steak with blue cheese than a slice of America. On the other hand, they earn points for the crispy fries that are served with aioli, and for the very fresh coleslaw.
Digestion? Not easy.
Verdict? A facelift in terms of the décor (amongst other things) seems necessary.
Restaurant: 55 rue du Fbg Poissonnière – 75009 Paris
By overplaying the Frenchy, ultra-hip “atelier du hamburgé” card, Big Fernand (47 locations in France and 5 abroad) wound up disappointing our sensitive stomachs. Brought out speedily on their Chipotle-style trays with packets of ketchup and mayonnaise, our burgers revealed themselves to be rather dry. Unimpressive patties and buns that weren’t very fresh, the Bartholomé felt like eating a dessert, that’s how sweet it was! And what is there to say about the dried tomatoes atop the classic Big Fernand? We’re at a loss for words. Fortunately, the “Fernandines” were good, even if they weren’t exactly the fries of the century. The “Falade” also brought a little welcome freshness to this fatty world, despite the frightening little bottle of vinaigrette.
Digestion? Surprisingly light, something of a miracle. Proof that the ingredients deserve better recipes.
Verdict? Umm…. Perhaps the marketing team should cool it with the jokes and focus on the burgers.
The most fast food
Restaurant: 168 rue Montmartre – 75002 Paris
Tele-transported into a sort of retro-futurist airport lounge, we waited in line in front of the kitchen of the Camion qui Fume – 3 permanent locations and 2 food trucks. After placing our partially robotized order, we sat down under neon pink lights, listening to the somewhat boom-boom musical selection, faced with our burgers… which were good! Plump buns, tangy pickles, leafy lettuce, sliced tomatoes, raw onions – The Classique has all the right fixings! The Barbecue on the other hand, with overcooked beef and overly crispy bacon, was disappointing, much like the rather forgettable coleslaw. The fries, served in generous portions, weren’t bad, just a little too salty.
Digestion? What it should be.
Verdict? Much better if you take it to go!
Restaurant: 14 rue du Cygne – 75001 Paris
With its wooden walls and industrial furniture, Roomies (3 locations) looks like a teenager’s tidy bedroom, rather masculine but still pretty cute. The menu is in keeping with the rest, and you build your own burger, except for the Roomies burger which gives you a nice idea of the house’s taste (tarragon sauce, caramelized onions that aren’t overly sweet, tomme de Savoie cheese and chives). Extra points for the thick and really rare patties (too raw for some) and the delicious fries, but we didn’t really understand the quasi-Greek cucumber salad, which, even if it is fresh, has nothing in common with a classic coleslaw.
Digestion? It goes down easy.
Verdict? Honestly, a nice surprise.
Jeanne Leroux with Christine Doublet
Photo © Marine Brusson