SquareMeal Review of Big Fernand
There aren’t many restaurants that would try opening in London for a second time after a failed first attempt, but not every restaurant comes with the pedigree of French chain Big Fernand.
The gourmet burger joint, which boasts 50 sites across Paris and the Middle East, initially opened a London outpost in Fitzrovia in 2015, but closed its doors a couple of years later. Now, Big Fernand is back, this time in London’s Gallic capital of South Kensington, where the French Consulate and Lycée Charles de Gaulle should ensure a keen customer base, to say nothing of the crowds from the museums.
The dining room is split across two intimate floors and follows the aesthetic of a rustic French brasserie, rather than a greasy burger haunt – think a counter dressed with blue and white tiles, leather banquette seating and vintage French posters stuck to the ceiling.
Big Fernand’s USP is that its beef and cheeses are all sourced from the brand’s French home, thus ditching the typically American associations of burger chains. Burgers are served in a brown paper wrapping and the star of the menu is le Big Fernand – a French beef patty topped with Tomme de Savoie cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and house-made cocktail sauce, sandwiched in a brioche bun. The quality of the beef is obvious, while the umami quality of the melted cheese works in harmony with the tart cocktail sauce, which cuts through the burger’s fat.
Frites raclette is an obvious choice for a side, but lacked the visual wow-factor we thought the dish would have; the amount of cheese seemed a little stingy. We were also disappointed that our dessert of chocolate mousse, advertised on the menu as being served by the ladle, was presented to us in a plastic pot. We’re glad we opted for indulgence over virtue though (healthier options include natural yoghurt with coulis) because the mousse was satisfyingly rich and creamy.
Fair prices add to Big Fernand’s appeal, while it’s one of the only burger restaurants in the capital to offer a breakfast menu – complete with pastries made in house, French press coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.
About Big Fernand
Big Fernand, the famous Parisian burger brand with an established presence in China, the UAE and, especially, France, has now opened its doors in South Ken. The chain previously opened (and closed) in the capital in 2015 near Tottenham Court Road but is confident that London’s appetite for gourmet burgers has improved since then.
The location is a natural fit – not only does it appeal to the swathes of tourists flocking to visit London’s most popular museums, South Kensington is also the traditional heart of French London with the French Consulate and French Lycée both housed there.
Big Fernand has made its mark internationally serving high-quality beef patties with French cheeses, sauces and potatoes, challenging the typical American-style offerings championed by its rivals. The brand prides itself on using only locally and responsibly sourced meats, homemade relishes, freshly baked bread and cheese made from raw milk and sliced on site from the wheel. What’s more, it promises that its burgers will always be served hot, fast and with a smile.
The menu is compact but enticing. The signature Le Big Fernand sees a premium organic beef patty sandwiched in a brioche bun with Tomme de Savoie cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and a Big Fernand cocktail sauce (for a veggie option, beef can be substituted with Portobello mushroom and caramelised onions).
Alternatively, you can have your burger as L’Agneau (lamb) and Le Poulet (chicken), while tempting sides include la salade du chef, featuring Gruyère and bacon, and frites raclette – the Parisian take on cheesy chips.
Rustic desserts are served the traditional way – with a ladle. A classic mousse au chocolat is the obvious choice, but for something lighter, various yogurt and fruit options are also available. Drinks are equally Gallic, with soft choices featuring grenadine in various guises, while alcoholic options include draft beer, French wine (by the glass or bottle) and le Monaco, a blend of beer, grenadine and lemonade popular in France.