It’s a phenomenon: Paris’s first gourmet food truck, if you can call a hamburger gourmet food (for the purposes of this article, let’s agree to do so). The other night, we braved the cold to line up for an hour on the Quai de Valmy just to put in our order at Le Camion qui Fume (“The Smoking Truck,” and it certainly did), then we waited another hour – no kidding – for that order to be filled. Who would tolerate a restaurant where you had to wait two hours for your order to be filled? No one. Yet dozens of Parisians stood outside in the cold for that long to get one of these burgers. Apparently, the burgers often run out before everyone is served.
And how was this famous burger? Very good. I had the classic – other choices include barbecue (with bacon, cheddar cheese, onion rings and barbecue sauce), bleu (Fourme d’Ambert, carmelized onions, port sauce). The burger was overcooked and too small for the bun, but I enjoyed the char-grilled flavor, the tasty sesame bun and the garnishes of cheddar cheese, sliced dill pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and onions, which every classic burger should have. The matchstick French fries were just okay.
Our advice to you: wait until the furor dies down, go early and dress warmly. You can find out where the truck is parked on a given day by checking the Web site. When it is near the Point Ephémère on the Quai de Valmy in the evening, you can go inside for a drink and to eat your burger, which costs €8 without fries and €10 with.
Kristin Frederick, a young, Paris-trained chef, is the entrepreneur behind this laudable, wildly successful effort. She apparently did her research among Paris butchers and bakers to find the best meat with just the right fat content and the perfect bun. Let’s hope others will follow her example with more varied offerings.