Paris, Saturday, 7:24 pm. A jostling crowd gathers on the sidewalk outside the sliding glass doors of Blend, a new hamburger restaurant. Inside, black walls vibrate with buzzy energy and yellow lights beckon with cozy warmth, for it is a cold night, of the arctic variety.“Why can’t we go in?” a little girl asks. “They don’t open until 7:30,” her mother replies.
The long minutes pass on the frozen tundra of the sidewalk. Finally, the doors creak open and people are allowed to enter the restaurant. It is 7:31 pm, Blend is open for business, and they are immediately full to capacity.
Things look up once we’re seated, sharing a table with a gaggle of excited tweenage girls. For one thing, until the food comes, there is wine to warm my frozen feet. And then the burgers arrive.
Meet the Cheesy (10€), which features a beef patty cooked rare (our server didn’t even ask our preference), topped with melted cheddar, barbecue sauce, bacon, lettuce, and sweet pickles. It braids together tangy, sweet, and savory, balancing the three on a perfectly spongy brioche bun, the kind of bready vehicle you fantasize about if you spend your spare time daydreaming about the perfect hamburger. (Yes, I do.) Full disclosure: the buns are baked by a friend, Croque Camille, but I’d love them even if she hadn’t masterminded them.
Here is the Signature (10€), which melts blue cheese over a beef patty, and tops it with spinach and a relish of caramelized onions and apples. It features that same blend of sweet and savory (in fact, if I could change one thing about the menu, it would be to offer a cheeseburger without a sweet counterpoint like grilled onions, or barbecue sauce), stacked in a neat, tidy package that’s not too messy to eat with your hands. And that’s another thing I like about this place: we’re not offered any cutlery, because the owners know that burgers are meant to be picked up with your fingers, not sawed at with a knife and fork.
Two baskets of fries play a supporting role to the burger starlets, one order of regular (3€, served cold, alas), and one of sweet potato (5€), which are fryer-fresh and finger-stinging, crisply exteriored and velvety within.
An assortment of baked goods end the meal, American treats like cupcakes, cookies, and brownies. We spoon up cheesecake with a gingerbread crust and cranberry topping (5€); it tastes just like my cousin Cindy’s, which is to say, excellent. We head back into the cold night, fortified by an evening of Americana, French style. Our table is occupied thirty seconds after we leave.
44 rue d’Argout, 2e
tel: 01 40 26 84 57