Another day in Paris, another line of people down the sidewalk waiting for a restaurant to open its doors. I honestly hadn’t thought it would happen at this one, a place I’d stumbled upon while charging towards the Gyoza Bar. I don’t know what makes my restaurant radar sit up and start beeping, but it most certainly did as I walked past this very small storefront on Rue du Faubourg Poissonniere on the edge of the 10th (I just love garbling that name). It looked lively and friendly and very un-white-tableclothy. I made a mental note and tucked it away for when I could research the name on my computer back at the hotel.
Big Fernand is essentially just a burger joint staffed by a variety of smiley, plaid-shirt wearing, moustachioed Frenchmen. They are the perfect metaphor for this tiny place – a perfect blend of Americanness and Frenchness housed in a tiny hipster-filled eatery. And the burgers? Well, they’ve been elevated in a way only the French can do. All of the meat (you have a choice of beef, lamb, veal or chicken) is organic and ground on the premises. Cheese? Cheddar, maybe? Um, no. Here your choices are: Saint-Nectaire, Fourme d’Ambert, Fromage à raclette, Tomme de Savoie (and seriously how do you choose from those??). Buns are specially made for these guys at the bakery just down the street and the tomatoes aren’t raw, they’re tediously sun-blushed in a low oven overnight. There’s some serious care that goes into each burger and you can taste it.
In spite of the lunchtime crowds, the line moved very quickly (the plaid shirt brigade handed out menus to everyone waiting so we’d know what we wanted when they finally opened the doors). I ordered (with speed) at the counter and then I sat at one of the communal tables (all the while tapping my feet to Blondie blaring from the speakers) and within five minutes had my tray of goodies in front of me. It was fantastic! Juicy meat seeping down through my fingers and the Tomme de Savoie sliding around on the meat. Heaven. The fries are the proper thin cut version of themselves, and dusted with paprika (I think). And, while I do love a Diet Coke (or Coca-Cola Light as it’s called here) my organic soda was slightly floral and fizzy and not half bad.
Now you might now be getting to Paris anytime soon, but I urge you to use some of these delicate touches the next time you slap that burger on your grill. Step away from that slice of flourescent cheese-product, saute a few vegetables (or just buy a bottle of sun-blushed tomatoes), mix some spice into your mayo, chop some parsley to garnish. Et voila, you too can be on the bustling Rue du Faubourg Poissonniere – just resurrect your 90s grunge plaid shirt!
55 rue du Faubourg PoissonnièreParis, 75010