I used to live in Paris and, a Frenchman aside, I picked up a thing or two about the City of Lights during my time there. Here’s one of my favourite restaurants…
La Brigout – 54 rue d’Argout, Paris
Culinary culture clash
It wasn’t the horsemeat. It wasn’t the snails. It wasn’t even the frogs’ legs. No, when it came to French mealtime shockers, it was the discovery that our Continental cousins are in love with Maccy D’s – or McDo as they call it.
Shame on you, France!
In fact, La France is McDonald’s most profitable market outside the USA. But I suppose it kind of makes sense when you think about it – thin-cut fries and a slab of beef isn’t that far removed from a steak haché with frites. Kind of.
Le Big Mac vs the Hambourgeois
What I can’t fathom is why the Frenchies go gaga for Le Big Mac when clearly the world’s best burger is right under their big, wine-sniffing noses. The aptly-named Hambourgeois is a home-grown delight à la française and is, without exception, the tastiest beef’n’bun combo I’ve ever scoffed. Honestly, it’s a death-row meal contender.
So what makes it so God-damn delish? Well, it’s smothered in a gloopy-gorgeous layer of melted Reblochon cheese, not to mention a good helping of caramelised onions and a dollop of mustard-mayo. Topping things off – quite literally – are strips of thin, air-dried beef (because 150 grams of pure minced beef just isn’t enough cow). A monster portion of homemade chunky chips completes this culinary feast-cum-coronary on a plate.
La Brigout Restaurant
The Hambourgeois is the star of the menu at La Brigout – one of my fave restaurants in Paris. You’ll find this dinky little eatery tucked away on rue d’Argout, just a stone’s throw from the hipster hangout that is rue Montorgueil.
Oh-so French bistro
The place itself is everything a Parisian bistro should be, right down to the cabaret chairs and the intimate candle-lit tables. The whole place reeks of France (in a good way) – much like the baked Camembert which takes pride of place on the list of entrées alongside treats like crab tartare and foie gras.
Run your finger down the menu and you’ll find more in the way of French fare like pot au feu (a rustic, peasant-y stew) and poulet Basquaise (moist chicken breast with a tomato and red pepper ratatouille). The great thing about the menu is that it’s seasonal so you’ll see things come in and out. If you’re here in the winter, try the wine-rich boeuf bourguignon. For something summery and light, give the pan-fried sea bass a whirl.
Puddings and plonk
La Brigout does a mean line in desserts, too. The éclair Paris Brest is airy yet wonderfully creamy while the moelleux au chocolat, with its gooey caramel centre, envelops the tongue faster than it trips off it – try saying moelleux after a couple of glasses of vin rouge. Talking of which, the wine list ticks off everything from Sauvignon through to Sancerre and doesn’t break the bank, with most tipples coming in at the 25-euro mark.
No mention of La Brigout would be complete without a word or two about Guillaume and Nicolas – the handsome duo who run this place. Unlike some Parisian establishments, you’ll find no bof shoulder-shrugging attitude here. Instead, these garçons lead a charm offensive, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Maurice Chevalier thanked heaven for little girls.
One last thing. La Brigout has started serving brunch now. Along with eggs and smoked salmon, you’ll find the ultimate hangover cure – yep, you’ve guessed it, the Hambourgeois. Beats a Big Mac any day. Bon appétit folks.