I saunter into Big Fernand, the French Burger Bistro, and it feels like I’ve crossed the border. The place is empty, except for a small table of eager-eyed Burger Clubbers, tucked around the corner. After a round of secret Burger Club handshakes (kidding), I grab a seat and take in the menu.
Wow, the choices are exotic. Instead of regular burger appendages Big Fernand offers ingredients like raclette cheese, chives, sun-dried tomatoes, flat parsley and tarragon. There’s a veal burger. A lamb burger with grilled aubergine and coriander. And “la [side] salade.”
In the end, as usual, I stick with the burger that jumped out first. In this case, Le Bartholomé; raclette cheese, smoked streaky bacon, caramelized onions, chives, barbecue sauce and homemade cocktail sauce. You need to order at the till, so I leap up and place my order, pronouncing Bartholomé tentatively, like a nervous tourist trying to play it cool.
I fail miserably, of course, and the attractive French waitress behind the till corrects and re-pronounces the name perfectly. Frenchly. With la passione. Feeling ridiculous, I smile sheepishly – I might as well have a laminated map on a cord around my neck and a Lonely Planet Paris book in my hand. The beer’s as French as the waitress, so I throw in a Gallia IPA with my burger and head back to our table around the corner.
The burger arrives quickly, which isn’t surprising, as we’re still the only ones in the joint. It looks good, but delicate and petite. Bistro food, I guess. The burger patty itself is tasty but tiny, hidden and mostly overpowered by the rest of the ingredients. Every bite’s full of flavour, but in the end, the size of the £10 burger’s impossible to ignore. In fact, I’d say it’s more bun than burger. Possibly 70/30.
The beer’s light and refreshing. Although, to be fair, I probably could have washed Big Fernand’s treat-sized, full-priced Le Bartholomé down with a thimble of water. We exit to the sound of the staff sweeping up, clanging glasses around just loud enough for us to get the message without feeling too offended. We step back out into Percy Street. Into London. And head our separate ways.