Jessie Oleson, aka Cakespy, contributes a regular dessert column to Serious Eats, but aside from sweets, she also loves burgers. Today she's stepping into the AHT world with a review of a restaurant she ate at during her recent trip to Paris. Thanks, Jessie! —The Mgmt.
7, Rue Ste Croix la Bretonnerie, 4th Arrondissement, Paris 75004 (map); 01 42 74 61 68; la-panfoulia.abcsalles.com
Short Order: These burgers are a one-way ticket to Pleasuretown.
Prices: €14 to €16 ($19 to $21.75), w/fries and a salad.
It's true: everything tastes better in Paris. Even burgers.
I know, I know: the burger really ought to be America's territory, right? After all, even if it wasn't technically invented here, it is where it came into its own. But you know what? It's hard to hold a grudge when faced with the savory stacks of nirvana being served up at La Panfoulia, a bar and casual restaurant in the Marais.
Let's start with the mushroom burger. Upon the waiter's suggestion it was ordered saignant, a rare-leaning medium, rather than bleu, which, as he advised, is really just "one step from having a beating heart." It came with a weighty stack of mushrooms that were ground into an almost pate-like texture, and were so perfectly spiced that they did not require any salt or pepper (and I tend to be liberal with both). The burger had a fully red, warm center, and every bite of the meaty mushrooms paired with the actual meat can only be described as tasting like a one-way ticket to Pleasuretown.
And we haven't even gotten to the bacon burger yet.
I would describe the bacon burger as being ethereal, but perhaps I should settle for a weightier description, like a pound of pure pleasure. The thick burger (this one ordered medium) was delivered with a touch of pink in the center and topped with a generous slathering of cheese and what almost resembled a bacon shell on top. It was lightly crunchy and assertively, but not excessively, fatty. The verdict? Pleasuretown all over again.
La Panfoulia gets extra points for paying attention to the details: the buns were toasted just enough so that they wouldn't get soggy under the weight of the burgers, but not so much that they flaked, and were a surprisingly flavorful, light, and yeasty bread; the fries come in cute porcelain cones (like paper cones! Only fancier!); and the side salad, so often an afterthought on the burger platter, is beautifully appointed, with a zesty vinaigrette and perfectly crisp lettuce and tomato slices.
Double and triple gold stars for the service, too: the waiter was not only kind enough to avoid wincing at the sound of my wobbly French, but was more than happy to chat about the food and advise us on other great eateries and bakeries in the area.