Sunday, 19 April 2015

Big Fernand - the French take on a burger

French Fries are great right?  I mean, they've been around for as long as I've been eating, apart for a very short period of time when the worldwide geopolitical situation dictated that some call them Freedom Fries.  However, I digress...  French Fries are great and I'm partial to eating them pretty much any time I grab a burger.

French Burgers, now there's something I'd never really thought about.. I mean, burgers are quintessentially American, but with the worldwide trend of burger domination, it's perhaps natural that the French would give burgers a crack.  

Big Fernand is a French burger chain that opened Paris in 2012 and has been dominating the European burger scene.  Listed by the Wall Street Journal as the best burger concept in France, it was only a matter of time before world wide domination beckoned.  With a base of six different burger types, one of the elements that sets Big Fernand apart is the liberal use of cheese in their burgers.

I'd sauntered over to IFC, where Hong Kong's first and so far only Big Fernand is housed, for a quick solo lunch.  It was fairly early still, and while there was a queue of people waiting to place their order, there were plenty of seats still available.  Joining the queue, one of the wait staff asked in a sexy French accent if it was my first time...  Such a personal question, but I got the gist and agreed that it was in fact my first time for a French burger.

A quick rundown of the menu ensued and after a few minutes, I had a pretty good feel for what Big Fernand was all about and with a strong recommendation to try the signature burger, I placed my order.  After placing my order, I made my way to one of the bench style share dining seats and had a bit of a look around the joint.  A couple of things stood out.  Firstly, there were storage areas for big cheese wheels (cheese before it's sliced), which was just about the Frenchiest thing I'd seen in a while.  The other was a list of 'the Big Fernand laws' - a list of nine laws that govern the operating model of Big Fernand.

After a short while, my number was called and I went to collect my meal on an old school army tray, which very much reminded me of collecting food in a school cafeteria.  I'd ordered a burger, fries (no need to call them French Fries) and a lemonade, which formed part of a package deal.

I'll kick off with my burger, which was the signature burger called 'Le Big Fernand' which comprised Australian graded pasture fed beef, with no hormones or antibiotics, tommy de savoie cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and tata fernando (house made cocktail sauce).  My burger came wrapped in brown wax paper, that listed out the different burger types on offer. Unwrapping my burger, my heart sank.  My burger looked nothing like the pictures I'd seen around the place, in fact, it looked very ordinary.  I could not see any of the ingredients, all that sat in front of me was a bun....  I knew that there would be stuff inside, but on first appearances, it didn't look very appetising at all.  

A couple of bites in and my opinion hadn't changed.  There is a golden ratio when thinking about burgers, which incorporates bun to ingredients ratio and the Le Big Fernand ration was all wrong.  While my beef patty was cooked medium rare as requested, all I could taste was the cheese and the overpowering cocktail sauce.  Worse, there was so much bun, it took some time to get to the ingredients.  I ended up just pulling the burger apart and eating the meat on it's own.

I thought I'd have more luck with the fries, which I was anticipating as being amazing, they looked pretty darn tasty, but when I started to munch on them, they tasted odd.  Now, I have to say that I thought they were made out of potato, but it's possible that they were actually sweet potato, which I hate.  Either way, I wasn't a hundred percent sure, so, if they were sweet potato chips, I guess they were ok.  However, if they were made from potato, they didn't resonate at all with me and I left most of them behind.

Feeling a little dejected, I rolled up what remained of my burger, gave a big sigh to the fries, then grabbed my Elixirs lemonade and left the building.  I'd had high hopes for my Big Fernand visit, after hearing good things, but the truth was it was the least impressive burger I'd ever had.  Now, that's not to say that others wouldn't like Big Fernand, they must, the place was pumping by the time I'd left, it's just that the burger didn't sit well for me.

With many burger joints still around in Hong Kong, I'll not be back for a second helping of Big Fernand.  Life is too short for bad burgers.

By the way, I hope I'm allowed back in to France when we visit in 2016!

All the staff seemed to be French and they were wearing their little berets
The wheels of cheese, which I assume made their way into the burgers


  1. I think my comment died. I was just saying yuk to burgers and bring on bloody good chips at least:)

    1. Hi Sherry, mmmmm, I love good burgers and good chips, but these were neither :(

  2. Ouch! I've never thought that you'd have a not-so-good experience at Big Fernand. I went there last Saturday and I think, their burgers are quite nice. Well, not as nice as the juicy beef burgers of other burger joints but I think, they passed my taste. What I just don't like about is that food presentation is not that enticing, looks dry! For a burger to stand out, it should be juicey and always look fresh, just like what the advertisers do in their commercials. Anyway, have you guys tried Double D Burger ( in Wellington?

    1. Ariette, yeah, I had high hopes, but they just didn't do it for me. Visually terrible and flavour was just not to my liking. Haven't tried Double D Burger yet, but I'm keen to get out and check it out soon :)


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