The Big Fernand comes to London:
The French Government is very sensitive to the Anglicisation of its language; despite its efforts to find French alternatives, many English and American words have leaked into the French language e.g. “le weekend” finishes off the week, “post-its” are found in the office, and safety devices fitted to cars are still called “les air bags”. It seems that the Hamburger also falls into this category and is set to stay as part of the French language.
The wonder of this was discussed beautifully in Pulp Fiction:
Vincent: All right. Well, you can walk into a movie theater in Amsterdam and buy a beer. And I don’t mean just like in no paper cup; I’m talking about a glass of beer. And in Paris, you can buy a beer at McDonald’s. And you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese?
Vincent: Nah, man, they got the metric system. They wouldn’t know what the **** a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: What do they call it?
Vincent: They call it a “Royale with Cheese.”
Jules: “Royale with Cheese.”
Vincent: That’s right.
Jules: What do they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: A Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it “Le Big Mac.”
And now the French think that they can bring their spin to an American classic, even if the name remains the same, by opening a Parisian style burger workshop in the heart of London. (Although the French Fry is already a triumph over the humble English chip in the world of burgers!)
The concept is simple, but beautifully executed. You can either choose from 6 house burgers, 2 beef, veal, lamb, chicken or portobello mushroom, each with a different cheese, vegetable, herb, and sauce; or you can choose any combination that you fancy. Each one cooked just the way that you want it; these are a far cry from the mass produced burgers of the fast food outlets.
The cheese is French, imported in large wheels and freshly cut. Each of the sauces are homemade, and the buns sourced from a French bakery in the UK.
I had Le Victor, a veal burger with Fourme d’Ambert (a creamy blue cheese), caramalised onions, coriander and Tonton Fernand (sweet mayonaisse), accompanied by the hand-cut French Fries, and a taste of each of the sauces. I have to say that the cocktail sauce was my favourite of the three. I had this with a glass of the house white wine.
My partner made his own choosing a rare beef burger with blue cheese, coriander, and barbeque sauce, accompanied by an organic French beer. This (both burger and beer) was proclaimed to be “very very good”.
We were then shown the upstairs room, which is designed to look French Bourgeois-meets-granny’s-living-room (I loved the wallpaper with the birds!), and is a comfortable place to sit and unwind. We spent a few minutes wondering who the familiar looking man enjoying a glass of red was, before we recognised him as Joseph from Gogglebox.
The plan is to introduce an extended wine list and have this available upstairs where people may wish to linger for longer. We can’t promise any other ‘celebrity’ spotting opportunities though!
We both thoroughly enjoyed our burgers, and will be visiting again.
The restaurant is just off Tottenham Court Road, a stone’s throw from either Goodge Street Station or Tottenham Court Road Station Theatre goers visiting the Dominion not seeking a ‘fine dining’ experience, but happy to pay for an excellent quality burger accompanied by a decent glass of wine or French beer, should seek this out.
Address: 19 Percy Street, London, W1T 1DY