People keep asking me if there are certain American foods that I miss when I’m in Paris. The short answer is “no”. The long answer calls into question my relationship with alcohol: I certainly miss Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and, more than that, I miss the assumption that certain drinks should always and only be made with limes. Gin and tonic with a lemon slice? Non merci.
Anyway, it’s not too hard to find American (or at least American-ish) foods in Paris if the craving strikes. Brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and even cupcakes, that bane of my West Village existence, are increasingly popular in the French capital.
A visit to a frequently recommended, American-style left bank burger joint earlier this week left me depressed. I ate the bland, overcooked patty, and its accompanying hashbrown (what?), but it left me hungry for a thick, juicy, napkin-testing cheeseburger. The good news is that I would be leaving for the states in just a few days.
As I said, there aren’t any foods that I particularly miss when I’m in France, but I do miss certain restaurants: Barbuto, of course; Mary’s Fish Camp; and also The Little Owl where, at lunch, a glorious bacon cheeseburger can be had.
The lunchtime cheeseburger is by no means the only or best reason to eat at The Little Owl: The braised calamari with lardo croutons was my motivation for repeat visits in back in June; the meatball sliders are delicious, if not exactly an appetizer as billed; the crispy chicken is exactly that; and the thick-cut pork chop is legendary. I once, very stupidly, asked chef Joey Campanaro if he would ever take it off the menu and he rightly looked me like I was insane.
I may well have appeared crazy yesterday while eating the burger. The juices had started breaking down the bun before I even had a chance to apply any mayo, and as I licked my fingers, wiped my dripping chin and ruined that poor napkin, I was relieved to not be in Paris, where burgers are eaten with a knife and fork, and my sloppiness would have elicited more stares than I get when I step out of my building onto the quai in my running clothes.
I struggled to keep it together, the tomato falling apart, the cheese sliding to one side.
Maybe the knife and fork would have been useful.
The Little Owl, 90 Bedford St., Manhattan, (212) 741 4695 website