Big Fernand in Fitzrovia
The gourmet burger revolution which has hit the UK during the past decade isn’t over yet. High streets and foodie districts across London offer the most interesting selection of burgers that can be found in Europe, and the bottomless hype for the classic American dish keeps boosting new openings.
Given the high level of competition and variety in this market segment, ventures need more than a good idea to conquer their space and clientele. Would you expect that from a French joint? The French are well-known for their classic, high-end food; they are also infamous for their hatred of foreign culinary traditions, especially those of Britain and America.
Big Fernand opened their first location – or atelier, as they like to call it – in Paris in 2012. Three years later, they reached nine in France, one in Hong Kong and now one in London too. Their reasons sound valid: “In France we have great bread, great sauces and great cheese; why shouldn’t we have great burgers too?”, says the branch’s manager Mathieu Durand.
Burgers come in six signature editions but you can also assemble your own starting with beef, veal, chicken, lamb or mushroom. Most of the ingredients are home-made or made to order: the bun’s recipe comes from a French boulanger; the potatoes are cut on site; the beef has been carefully chosen from a farm; the cheese is unpasteurised and sliced in the shop; and the sauces and the lemonade are prepared by the Big Fernand team.
However, all that glitters is not gold. The flavours are many and overwhelming; there is quality but there’s no balance. It’s a high-class burger made by people who do not eat burgers: each ingredient, though it tastes good, expresses itself too aggressively, with sprinkles of paprika (or some sweet chilli powder), coriander and mustard. The cheeses are good too, but they don’t complement the meat’s taste – they cover it. We try Le Bartholomé (beef), Le Victor (veal) and Le Philibert (chicken).
The French staff members are friendly and knowledgeable, wearing lovely signature rustic outfits. They promise to deliver your burger within a minute, and it doesn’t take much longer than that, although the food isn’t particularly hot. Tables and seats reflect the modern and posh design you’d expect from a gourmet burger joint; there’s also a delightful upstairs room that looks just like a classic townhouse living room with floral wallpaper.
If you love burgers and French cuisine and want to try something different, Big Fernand should surely be your next destination.★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Laura Denti
For further information about Big Fernand, 19 Percy Street, London W1T 1DY, call 0771 127 8602 or enquire here.