French Chefs Improve on American Specialty

January 17, 2012By Heidi EllisonRestaurants
Paris Update Blend Hamburger paris
The “Sweet” burger, made with a veal patty and carrot compote.

Continuing the gourmet burger saga we started here last week with Le Camion qui Fume, Paris’s first food truck, we paid a visit to another new gourmet burger spot, Blend, a place I had already heard many raves about even though it only opened a few weeks ago. After waiting two hours in the cold last week for my burger from the Camion, I was looking forward to enjoy a meat-patty sandwich and fries while sitting comfortably in a real restaurant, where the service would presumably be somewhat quicker.

On arrival, I was a bit disappointed by the fast-food feel of the small restaurant, although the impression is offset by the handsome designer graphics and blond-blond-wood furniture. The tables are for four people, so parties of two have to share with others, and the seats are stools, so it looked like the relaxing meal I was hoping for was out of the question.

But the welcome from the two young servers, who turned out to be the co-owners, was warm and friendly, so we settled in to study the selection of burgers on offer. The choice of six included not one but two interesting veggie offerings – one involving mushrooms, a tofu bun, spinach, eggplant, Brillat Savarin cheese and mint, and the other peas, spinach, apricot curry, coriander, fromage frais and mâche (lamb’s lettuce).

Being staunch meat eaters, we chose the “Signature” burger (beef with onion compote, bacon, apple, Roquefort, Emmental and baby spinach) and the monthly special, “Sweet” (veal, carrot and pepper compote, mint, chorizo, parmesan and arugula), having been informed that all burgers are served cut in half for easy sharing. We ordered one of each of the two sides: French fries and sweet potato fries.

I found the “Sweet” delightful: the carrot compote was slightly but not too sweet and did not overwhelm the juicy, delicately flavored veal burger. The promised chorizo seemed to have gotten lost in the mix but was not really missed. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, sandwiched into a nicely textured bun.

Appropriately, the beefy “Signature” had a stronger, meatier flavor, which was perfectly complemented by the onion compote, bacon and other ingredients.

We loved both kinds of fries, the crispy matchsticks and the softer sweet-potato variety.

A word on the ingredients: Blend says it uses all fresh ingredients and homemade buns and has created its own meat blends (hence the name) with its supplier, the “Bohemian butcher,” Yves-Marie le Bourdonnec. The buns and fries are homemade.

For dessert, we had an incredibly light yet creamy cheesecake and a cupcake. The latter

Paris Update Blend Hamburger dessert

was the only dish that I didn’t find up to standard – too heavy for my taste. (Paris is in the throes not only of a hamburger craze but also of a cupcake craze. I find that the Parisians are much more successful with the former – I have yet to taste a good cupcake here, but I am sure they will catch on once they catch on to baking powder and baking soda, two rarely used and hard-to-find ingredients here).

The attractive crowd of 20- and 30-somethings jamming the place kept up a lively buzz that drowned out the electro-lounge music that was playing when we arrived.

Bravo to the two young entrepreneurs who opened Blend. One has lived in New York and the other in California, and they have learned their American cooking lessons well. They have kept their prices down, take-out is already available, and delivery is promised as coming soon on the Web site. Blend does not take reservations, so arrive early unless you want to mingle with the crowd of smokers waiting on the sidewalk.

For those who want a good burger in a more comfortable setting (with real tablecloths!), I still swear by Joe Allen’s bacon cheeseburger with mild onion, tomatoes, pickle and lettuce, served with homemade matchstick fries.

Joe Allen: 30, rue Pierre Lescot, 75001 Paris. Métro: Etienne Marcel or Les Halles. Tel: 01 42 36 70 13. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Bacon cheeseburger with fries: €16.10.


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