The Strangest Burger I've Ever Eaten, From Chalet Regain in France


[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

During the final leg of my recent trip to the Franche-Comté region of France with the Comté Cheese Association, we stopped in the town of Les Rousses very close to the Swiss border where I can safely say that I ate the strangest burger I've ever had in my life.

The restaurant was Chalet Regain, an archetypical Swiss chalet that seems like just the place you'd want to come for some fondue and marc after a long day on the slopes (their fondue is reasonably good). But occupying a prominent space on the center fold of their menu is a section labeled Les Hambur "goûts," with a promise that here you'll find a completely reimagined and perfected version of the classic burger. Intriguing.

While versions with caramelized onions and rich meat jus were available, I opted for the Bourgogne, which came served with wild Burgundy snails.

What emerged from the kitchen had me struggling to hold back fits of laughter. Was it art? Was it cuisine? Was it comedy? Was it interactive kinetic sculpture? I'd say yes to all of these, so much so that how it actually tasted was largely beside the point (it wasn't particularly good).

What it really was more than anything was a message: Here is what can happen when a great, simple idea is put into the wrong hands where it's overthought, overwrought, and overfiddled-with. May it serve as a very humorously dire warning to you all.

Keep your burgers simple, folks.

Click through the slideshow for a full breakdown of how it works.

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