Le Bar à Burger

A Better Burger? Not Quite

March 11, 2014By Heidi EllisonRestaurants

Paris Update Bar a Burger dining room

Now that burgers are ubiquitous in Paris – mostly of decent and sometimes excellent quality – the trick is to make a better burger. After reading a few complimentary reviews, that was what I expected of the new Bar à Burger in Paris’s 10th arrondissement.

My hopes were high as I climbed the hill past the Hôpital Saint Louis. While the facade is unprepossssing, the interior is spacious and attractive, with the now-near-obligatory open kitchen in the back – with the difference that this one was separated from the dining room by glass.

I took a seat on a stool with a view directly into the kitchen, past stacks of fresh fruit and

Paris Update Bar a Burger kitchen

vegetables piled against the glass, and studied the complicated menu, with its variety of fixed-price lunch menus and plethora of extra charges for this and that.

I finally decided on a “Burger qui Fume” and an order of fries with Pecorino-truffle sauce. I had to ask the waiter to help me figure out which formule would be most advantageous, since I didn’t care about the drink included in the fixed-price menu. This required much reflection and higher math skills than I am equipped with, since both the burger and fries were subject to an extra charge if ordered à la carte.

Now I had only to watch and wait. I witnessed the spectacle of the chef setting dried herbs on fire to smoke my burger. It was served under a glass bell to trap the smoke, which perfumed

Paris Update Bar a Burger burger bell

the air when the waiter lifted it. It costs €1.50 extra for this gimmick.

My high expectations for a “gourmet” burger experience were dashed when I tucked into it. I had asked for it to be cooked à point (medium), but it was well done, without a trace of pinkness and an unpleasant rubbery texture. I pointed this out to the waiter, who informed

Paris Update Bar a Burger burger

the kitchen, but no offer of a replacement was forthcoming.

I decided to make the best of it and analyze the other qualities of my burger. The soft roll, made with paprika, was all right but nothing special. There was no flavor left by the smoke of the burnt herbs, but I did detect a hint of truffle from the truffle mayonnaise. The sliced pickles were sweet, not dill – a faux pas in my book. Otherwise I found some grated carrots, what appeared to be a slice of cooked radish, sliced tomato and fried onions – kind of random and not very exciting.

The fries, cooked with their skins, would have been pretty good if they were served hot instead of lukewarm, and the Pecorino-truffle

Paris Update Bar a Burger fries

sauce was okay but made them a bit soggy. When I mentioned this to my sweetheart of a waiter, who seemed to really care, he said that he would serve the sauce on the side from now on. The salad that came with my order was just shredded lettuce with dressing that seemed to have hot sauce in it. I liked it, but not everyone would appreciate the burn. For dessert, I had a tasty carrot cake with walnuts, raisins and a nice, not-too-sweet cream-cheese frosting.

The Bar à Burger also offers a burger with wasabi sauce, a calamari burger and a chicken/eggplant burger, as well as big salads and American-style breakfast and brunch foods. And, for an extra €4, all the burgers can be “super-sized.” I don’t think I would enjoy a super-sized version of that dry, chewy patty, however, and I doubt if I will go back to try the other offerings. For the moment, I will stick to Blend or Le Camion qui Fume when I want a better burger.


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