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
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
I don’t normally like
burger-buns but this was light and fluffy with the faintest hint of
Sitting on half the bun
was some salad leaves and a slice of tomato, topped by the perfectly cooked
Aubrac beef hamburger.
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
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
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.
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
(0)1 45 48 29 68 – you’ll need to book ahead.