French burgers arrive in London | Big Fernand, 19 Percy Street, London W1T 1DY
London’s overrun with burger restaurants, surely there’s no room for any more, right? Well apparently we need another, but not another US import or those that have graduated from a street food background, oh no, a French one. Big Fernand from Paris has crossed the channel and landed in Percy Street, just off Tottenham Court Road.
Now this was one we were keen to try and have been following with a watchful eye for a while, surely a French burger would be a refreshing change and the idea intrigued us. So in we went three weeks after the opening to find a restaurant overrun with staff, instead of hungry and eager Londoners Instagramming their food.
It was a bit confusing on the brain to suddenly be amongst a bunch of strongly accented Frenchmen sporting cloth caps and waistcoats in London, but there was something quite lovely and charming about it too. We’d already had a menu thrust in our hands before we’d even got in the door, there’s a choice of six burgers or you can build your own, like Build-a-Bear but better. Ordering is done at the counter, they ask how you’d like your meat cooked and then you collect it at the end.
You should’ve seen the reaction when I ordered the Le Bartholomé (£9) sans cheese, I don’t think I could have offended them any more if I tried. I desperately stressed the reasons why and they settled down a little. As I’d stolen Ade’s top choice (and everyone else’s in the restaurant judging from what I overheard) he went for a veal option. Yep, a veal burger! The Le Victor (£9) has Fourme d’Ambert creamy blue cheese, caramelised onions, coriander and Tondon Fernand (their own fennel mayonnaise). Ade definitely had beef envy! Veal, even when cooked rare, just doesn’t have that meaty hit. Luckily the blue cheese and mayo more than made up for it!
The name of the meat is in red type on the menu before the description, but I can imagine that a few people might not notice it, we’re so conditioned to burgers being beef. There’s also a lamb burger, chicken one or another beef option.
We wanted to take our food up the spiral staircase to eat in the room upstairs but I didn’t fancy carrying my tray up those steps whilst wearing a slight heel and wearing a skort, all kinds of bad things could happen. Instead we opted for an area at the back against the backdrop of grey slate tiles not dissimilar to our new (and still unfinished) bathroom.
Bottles of Big Fernand water are on the tables, handy. We hate having to ask for water. There’s wine available for £20 a bottle, or various soft drinks including their own L’Elixir D’Archibald Fernand (£2.80) which we loved. I had a very pretty coloured grapefruit flavour (or as they say in France, Pamplemousse – such a good word) and Ade lemon.
We unwrapped our burgers and once all the photographing had been done, felt slightly disappointed in the bun to meat ratio, you had to open the lid to see what was inside. Taste wise things were great though, we appreciated the quality in the meat and difference to the average burger, the bacon and BBQ sauce in my Le Bartholomé was tangy and rich and gave it a real point of difference from other London burgers.
Their French fries (£3) are double cooked, made in store and covered in a house paprika salt seasoning. They reminded us of Five Guys, only fatter – not really a French fry and you don’t get too many (not that we needed more – the burgers were very filling). There’s also the option of Young spinach leaves (£2) on the menu as an alternative to fries, so we ordered it just to see what it was like, envisaging wilted leaves but it’s actually a tiny pot of huge, overpriced uncooked ones.
The dressing was good though and I actually found myself enjoying them and force feeding Ade some nutrients in between mouthfuls of burger and chips. There’s no desserts on the menu yet, we don’t know why and can’t wait to find out what they are and why they’re not there yet. We were temped to head back to Cutter & Squidge for some Biskies – if you haven’t tried these, you must!
We nipped upstairs for a quick peek before we left, feeling safer not carrying food and drink. We discovered a totally different room all decked out in mismatched wallpaper and kitsch granny tables and chairs, gutted we didn’t come up here before, there were people there too!
If I loved cheese like Ade and most normal people do, I’d be really intrigued to come back to try the other burgers, but as the various cheeses involved are such integral ingredients, it doesn’t seem right somehow. Maybe it’s about time I saw Felix Economakis…
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm
Nearest station: Goodge Street (3 mins walk) Tottenham Court Road Station (4 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Big Fernand, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.