Parisians have officially gone burger bonkers: After the Camion qui Fume (a mobile gourmet burger van) and Big Fernand (an über-trendy take-away burger joint in the 10th), Blend has opened its doors, in the bobo quarters of Etienne Marcel. And if the queues are anything to go by, this modern, 24-seater burger bar is going to be relished for a long time.
The secret is in the ingredients: Made with hand-cut veal and beef mince, provided by star butcher Yves-Marie le Bourdonnec, burgers are succulent and flavoursome, and marry wonderfully with the fresh toppings (think bacon, bleu d‘Auvergne cheese, spinach leaves, chorizo, mint and cheddar). The bread and fries (both potato and sweet-potato) are also homemade, making the whole affair rather gourmet.
Our burgers came wrapped in baking paper (to keep their toppings snug inside the bun until they got to the table), accompanied by delicious, knobbly, golden fries served in a metal basket and sprinkled in salt and fresh parsley. The initial bite of the ‘Sweet’ burger (veal mince, with Chorizo and carrot, mint and pepper relish) was very satisfying, with alternately crisp and squishy layers of cheese, salad, salsa and bun. The toppings on the ‘Signature’ burger (beef mince with blue cheese, apple, bacon and onion chutney) also worked together perfectly; and the fries were some of the best we’d tasted in Paris, with just the right balance of crunch and fluffiness. Desserts (though less exciting) were decent: a moist peanut and caramel cupcake, and a creamy, yet tangy, raspberry cheesecake with a crunchy, buttery base.
Indeed, the only downer was the lack of space (only 24 seats for dozens of clients who inevitably have to queue or share with strangers) and an abundance of plastic cups – a problem linked to Blend’s unexpected success. As the manager explained to us, they didn’t anticipate becoming a hit so soon, so haven’t got enough ‘proper’ crockery to go round! Let’s hope they sort it out soon. Low-grade containers are passable in McDo, but when you’re a modern eatery trying to build a reputation, you just can’t serve wine in a bog-standard plastic cup.
Vegetarians are catered for too, with two veggie options: the 'Champ', a mushroom and tofu burger in a spinach bun, with aubergine and fresh mint; and the 'Green', an intriguing pea 'steak' in a spinach bun with curried apricot chutney.