Burgers have been a hot topic for the last year or two and London has benefitted from a wealth of pretty tasty joints. The French have now got in on the action and brought over a successful ‘amburger recipe in the form of Big Fernand. I was fortunate to drop by one of the Paris locations a month ago and also to be invited to sample to first UK location near Goodge St as their guest. Big Fernand has all the right ingredients: hearty portions, a varied but not overwhelming selection, quick service, and an engaging and entertaining staff.
What you need to know:
- Burgers are cooked to order from “blue rare” up to well done
- There is a menu of around 5 burgers but you can customise or build your own at will
- Order at the front then grab a seat – they will shout out your name when the food is ready
- Prices are reasonably given the quality and portion size – burgers are £7-10 and chips around £3 more
- Head upstairs for a different feel – it’s designed as a wine & cheese lounge compared to the burger shack downstairs
Food: ★★★★☆ Service: ★★★★☆ Atmosphere: ★★★☆☆ Value: ★★★☆☆ Overall: ★★★★☆
Big Fernand isn’t set up for large groups to while away the time so it’s best to gather in one of the pubs nearby or head to Bourne & Hollingsworth for a cocktail. There is quite a lot in the area which means you shouldn’t be hurting for a place to drink within a few minutes’ walk.
What to eat?
Well you’re here for the burger, right? My personal favourite is “Le Bartholomé” which is a beef patty (from cattle bred specifically for flavourful meat) topped with raclette cheese, pork bacon, caramelised onions, chives, and finished with both Big Fernand’s bespoke BBQ sauce and cocktail sauce.
This time though, I opted for something a little different: a veal patty with a mix of raclette and blue cheese topped with caramelised onions , coriander, and the BF BBQ sauce. The patty was very much a melt-in-your mouth level of softness – unfortunately too soft for my tastes as it lost that lovely bit of texture in each bite that I love in a burger. The veal itself had a surprisingly amount of flavour although in hindsight perhaps blue cheese was a bit too much – my mistake not BF’s but perhaps something the staff could warn against. I can see this going really well with either the gooey raclette or the milder grassy cheese also on the menu.
The bun is a lightly toasted seeded behemoth that covers the burger with enough overlap to keep the messiness down to a minimum (check out the cross section below). Apparently they initially had a larger bun to beef ratio and increased the patty size after getting some feedback from customers – always nice when a place reacts quickly to customer demand! I also gotta point out the bun holds together remarkably well right down to the last juice-soaked bite.
BF serves up a hefty portion of fries (it does seem that everything is better on the UK side of the Channel) with are pretty spot on. I could have down with a slight more crunch on my fries – particularly as the tall and narrow box traps a lot of moisture which may make some of the bottom fries a tad soggy. That being said, I demolished them pretty fast so it wasn’t much of an issue. Extra points to BF for the unexpected aioli that came with the fries – it was similar to a béarnaise sauce (or maybe it was one!) and I could eat it on pretty much anything.
How about a drink?
As you’d expect, there is a small range of artisanal sodas and also a light, slightly hoppy, French lager. There is also a full set of house wine (red, white, and rose) from a local distributor that is far too easy to drink. I highly recommend the red which is rich and fruity with enough punch to balance out the meat. I found myself taking down half a bottle in no time (okay so I’m a little bit of a lush) but it was a wine that was as well suited for drinking while having a chat or chomping on a juicy burger.
Worth the dosh?
It’s on the higher end of the burger range (particularly with fries) but the large portion size and top quality makes it worth it. I’d happily go back for another one now although I should wait a few weeks otherwise to maintain some pretence of a healthy-ish diet as I can’t help but get all the cheeses. Get yourself over there – I imagine soon the lines are going to match the Paris locations which often have people waiting around the block!