What do the French know about burgers anyway? We’re talking about the quintessential American food here, yet the SBK and I are drawn to this charming Bistro on our weekly burger jaunt. It was an up and down experience the entire meal, good but not great burgers, very good but not excellent French Fries, and a more than awkward server than I was expecting. I guess I’m always baffled by up-selling outside of a movie theater, but if I’m in the mood for a Diet Coke with my meal, I will speak up. I was also surprised at how easily said waitress threw the kitchen staff under the bus, insisting that if we wanted to order dessert (this coming just after we ordered our entree’s) we should do it quickly, since “our kitchen is very slow.” There were other mishaps along the way, but whatever, let’s get back to the burgers.
Sampling both the “Grilled French Burger” ($14) and the “Gourmand Sirloin Burger” ($13) yielded similar results. Cooked fairly close to the requested medium-rare, there just wasn’t a ton of flavor from the beef. I suspect the leanness of Sirloin is the culprit here, as the cut of beef is generally a good indicator of the rest of the meal. We know Sirloin is not the best choice, correct? Fat is flavor, and I want my burgers fatty, dammit, is that too much to ask for? Bacon and melted brie do their best to bump up the flavor in the Grilled French Burger, despite the bacon not being completely crispy. (is it that hard to cook bacon?) The melted brie added a wonderful touch, oozing and creamy, with just the right amount of tang needed to offset the unpronounced flavor of the burger itself. The Gourmand Burger was less successful for me, topped with a duck truffle terrine, the flavors just never came through for me. Honestly I’m not a huge terrine fan anyway, and while this was well prepared, it just has no place on a burger in my opinion. Texture is important in a meal (yes, even on a burger) so the idea of a mushy terrine on top of a burger without a crust was a minor misstep, and fancy-pants ingredients such as a duck truffle terrine have no place on my ideal burger, but the attempt and the differentiation is duly noted.
The French Fries (excuse me, “pommes frites”) are golden and crispy, but need just a touch more of salt and are a shade above room temperature. Not bad but not fantastic, kind of like the meal as a whole. I know the French can prepare food properly, and for the most part, they do at Sandrine’s Bistro. The bun, a brioche no less, works well with the burger at hand, even if the burgers seem a little on the small side. The flaws aren’t major, but for an overall experience, something is lacking, which I attribute to passion. Some may say you can’t taste passion on the plate, but I know I can, and while they go through the motions to cook as spot-on as they can, without the love and the dedication behind the food, it will never be all that memorable.
Overall Score: 77