Okay. I really don’t want to tell anyone else how wonderful this Big Fernand is.
Though, yes, the Hoodooist tends to primarily review bars, it is hard to pass up talking about what is quickly becoming his favourite burger joint in London (outside Le Bun, but that’s another story, click HERE for a Le Bun review!)
Crossing the channel, the Parisian burger venture brings with it a wonderful selection of French wines, cheeses, savoir faire – and let’s not forget, hamburgés.
Downstairs, black is accented with wooden features down an aisle with its six-person burger assembly line from counter to server, decorated with classic French signage and exposed bulb lighting. Upstairs, the Hoodooist’s dream studio, a floral dining room, with vintage portraits and focal point fireplace surround a dining table perfect for an event. I could move right in tomorrow if I could.
With meat cooked all the way from blue rare to well done – and we mean French blue rare, no kidding around here – burgers utilise beef, veal, lamb, chicken and a vegetarian option. And other than the carefully constructed 6 on-menu choices, diners get a ‘build a burger’ option to design their own. With a selection of various sauces and several herbs, the cheeses make some of the most exciting choices from farmhouse goat cheese, herbal Tomme de Savoie, sweet blue Fourme d’Ambert to the quintessential oozy Raclette.
Beginning with the slightly formidable Le Bartholomé, beef meets Raclette, bacon, carmelised onions, chives, and topped with home-made barbecue and cocktail sauce. A hefty beast, the Bartholomé came cooked to a medium-rare perfection, oozing with the softly-sweet Raclette and the sauces that seem to complement each other so surprisingly well – and with that subtle kick of the chives. The Bartholomé finds a way to take a classic, and stick to a classic formula, while twisting it with new flavours to give us a continental take on a gourmet bacon burger.
And because one wasn’t enough (even with a side of perfectly seasoned spiced fries) – Le Victor enters the arena, the rose veal topped with blue Fourme d’Ambert cheese, caramelised onions, coriander and home-made sweet mayonnaise. Corianderphobes do not panic – the herb doesn’t scream at you, but nudges lightly under the burger’s sweeter ingredients. An excellent approach to a veal burger (and that cheese!).
And to go with the concluding cheese plates, the wines, supplied by Michel Chapoutier, included the house red Marius, and the Petite Ruche 2012.
The Marius is a bold wine, a Grenache/Syrah, the nose is almost intimidating. The palate is powerful, a complex array of spiciness, berries and a certain darkness, balanced lightly by the floral Grenache. Not necessarily the Hoodooist’s favourite, especially when the beautiful Petite Ruche is on offer.
The Petite Ruche 2012 is built to be served with meat. Unmistakably Rhone, chewy and dry with fabulous full body. A palate of ripe red berries and cassis, with overlaps of spice and pepper, and something drier, perhaps tobacco. Almost deceptively easy to drink, I can’t imagine dining here without a bottle of the Ruche on the table.
Service is absolutely wonderful. Downstairs, the several Fernands walk you through the process on the assembly line where you collect your burgers, and upstairs, they make delightful hosts – your glasses are always full, and so are your bellies – chances are, you’ll go for a second hamburgé before the night’s out.
I mean, how can you help yourself?
Atmosphere: Downstairs: ***, Upstairs: *****
19 Percy Street, Fitzrovia,
London, W1T 1DY