The perfect Parisian hamburger

What is it about holidays?   As soon as you’re home, you start to yearn for some delicious meal you ate, knowing full well that you can’t possibly eat it again for many months, if ever …

I treasure the memories of the restaurants that have had that effect on me, such as Miyamasou in the mountains outside Kyoto, the divine Hertog Jan in Bruges, Noma (of course) in Copenhagen and the wonderful cooking at the Chinese restaurant in Aman at the Summer Palace in Beijing.

After a recent trip to Paris, I’ve found myself pining for the pure Aubrac beef hamburger I ate at Le Chardenoux des Prés. This might seem rather incongruous, but I love simple food and this dish was truly superb.

Every aspect was perfect, starting with the sesame-sprinkled bun.   I don’t normally like burger-buns but this was light and fluffy with the faintest hint of sweetness.   Sitting on half the bun was some salad leaves and a slice of tomato, topped by the perfectly cooked Aubrac beef hamburger.   It tasted of beef in the best possible way.   Juicy, herbally sweet and savoury.   In case you’re wondering, Aubrac cattle are an old, dual-purpose breed that were traditionally grazed in the mountain meadows around Aubrac in the Auvergne.

A little cheese had been melted on top of the burger before it had been plated with a wafer-thin slice of crispy bacon and a bantam-sized fried egg. The dish was accompanied by a small pot of bagnarotte sauce (pink mayonnaise) and the crispiest, perfectly salted pommes frites you could wish for.   Forget thrice fried chips, chunky chips and all the other chip hype you read about – these were perfect. The sauce, meanwhile, brought the entire composition to life, with its sweet sour hints of tomato, brandy and Tabasco playing against the umami beef, sweet bun and salty chips.

The restaurant is like stepping back in time to the late 1960’s with its deep blue floral wallpaper, old-fashioned bistro lights and blackboard menu. It’s Michelin-starred chef Cyril Lignac’s second bistrot. He’s restored the sixties look from when the restaurant was Claude Sainlouis and a fashionable place for Parisians to eat before they hit the clubs on the Left Bank.  

Today, the customers are a well-heeled Parisian crowd.   You wouldn’t be surprised to see them in Luis Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie .   It’s the sort of place you can pretend for a moment that you live on nearby Rue Jacob and live an intellectual Rive Gauche life – especially when you savour the little madeleine that accompanies your coffee. 


Le Chardenoux des Prés

27, rue du Dragon

75006 Paris

Bookings:   +33 (0)1 45 48 29 68 – you’ll need to book ahead. 


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