Big Fernand in Fitzrovia

This review origianlly appeared here:

Nowadays any review of a burger place becomes an exercise in comparison, but as the burger bubble refuses to burst, given the fierceness of the competition in the sector, perhaps this isn’t surprising. With their focus on unique toppings such as fresh herbs, and careful attention to cheese choices sure to please any turophile, Big Fernand do their best to present a unique offering, but the result isn’t necessarily enough to edge out its competitors.

We opted for the Le Valentin, a Charolais beef patty, wild mushrooms, Neufchatel cheese, truffle oil, sweet mayo and chives, which, with the exception of the truffle oil (that tends to dominate and not really taste of truffle) reads like a good burger. However, unfortunately the result was rather average. The beef, although cooked perfectly to a medium-rare, seemed underseasoned, and both the patty and the other toppings were dwarfed by the cheese.

On the other hand, L’Alphonse (a lamb patty, Tomme de Savoie, aubergine, coriander and sweet mayonnaise) was well balanced; the burger had good texture and the cheese enhanced rather than dominated it.

Picking apart the burgers, all the elements tasted great individually. The mayonnaise was particularly noteworthy, and it would have been good to have some on the side to accompany the also excellent skin-on chips. The bun, made to Big Fernand’s precise specifications, was also excellent. Soft and light, it showed none of the heaviness of pure brioche buns favoured by far too many “gourmet” burger bars.

Dessert options were described as an oreo mousse and a popcorn and caramel mousse. In reality these were not really mousses, but felt like lightly frothed sweet custard with the aforementioned flavours merely appearing as toppings or dispersed within. The effect was pleasant enough, but providing only a few spoonfuls and priced at £3, it begged the question, why bother? It felt like an attempt to add a touch of French sophistication to a McFlurry. We’d stick with the McFlurry.

With a real focus on toppings and a decidedly French feel, the components are all here for a great burger place, but as things stand the result is rather average. And with so much competition, Big Fernand isn’t doing quite enough to stand out from the crowd.

Food : 6/10

Drinks : 6/10

Service : 7/10

Verdict: 3 stars

All photography by Dan Donovan