You won’t often find me posting about wine – I’m more of a spirits person (and I get way too drunk way too easily on anything grape based!) – but when Le Petit Ballon invited me down to their Spring Aperitif event at my favourite burger restaurant in London, Big Fernand in Soho, well how could I say no?

Le Petit Ballon

Image provided by Le Petit Ballon

Le Petit Ballon are a French wine specialist who, as well as having their own store in Paris, provide a wine subscription box service in France, Belgium and the UK.

The Box

A pioneer in the world of wine subscription boxes, Le Petit Ballon is a fun, easy to understand wine box. Perfect for a novice (like me!) but equally as good for a connoisseur – there are actually two boxes to choose from;

The Apprentice (£24.90 per month) – Recommended for those wanting a head start in the world of wine, the Apprentice offers something a little different, but excellent value for money.

The Master (£39.90 per month) – Featuring more prestigious and well known labels, this one is perfect for building your wine cellar (living in London I can’t imagine I will ever have space for a wine cellar, but that isn’t the point here…).

le petit ballon

With a Le Petit Ballon subscription, you received two bottle of wine per month, carefully selected by their sommelier, Jean-Michel Deluc, based on your preferences. You also receive their monthly magazine, ‘The Gazette’, and some handy tasting notes (the ‘cheat sheet!’). Oh and subscribers get a discount at their online store too!

It’s a nicely presented package – modern yet classy and I can’t help thinking the branding is aimed at a younger, newer clientele – people like me.

The Wine

You’re in safe hands with Jean-Michel – as the former Head Sommelier at The Ritz Paris, he’s a man who knows his stuff. I was given the opportunity to interview him at the event but I’ll be honest, I was clueless as to what to ask!

Le Petit Ballon

Image provided by Le Petit Ballon

I know next to nothing about wine, and if I’m honest I find it all a little bit daunting. My wine selection is usually based on what’s on offer or what has a pretty label, haha! But I think Le Petit Ballon have really stripped back the wine selection process and made it a little more accessible and easy to approach for people like me.

Le Petit Ballon

Image provided by Le Petit Ballon

One thing I found handy in selecting my wine at the event was the ‘cheat sheet’ which Jean-Michel and the Le Petit Ballon team developed to ‘classify’ their wines. The classifications are indicated in their online store to help you pick a wine you’ll like and if you aren’t sure, you can take their little quiz to give you a better idea.

The Food

Now I know this event was about the wine, but I can’t let an opportunity to mention the food at Big Fernand slide.

big fernand

Image provided by Le Petit Ballon

It’s no secret I like my beef mooing, and it’s hard to find a rare burger in London. But you can have a Big Fernand burger blue if you want one. And of course I wanted one!

I’ve visited the restaurant a few times now, and it’s been consistently amazing. Sort of fast food like, you order at the counter and wait for your food, which you take on a tray to your table, Maccy D’s style.

I can’t believe I just compared Big Fernand to McDonalds, haha! They are worlds, WORLDS, apart.

Big Fernand are gourmet burgers at their best. Beautiful Charolais beef (or chicken, or veal, or Portobello mushroom, whatever takes your fancy), French cheese, fresh vegetables and herbs all served on a perfect sesame seeded bun.  I’m pretty certain there is no other burger comparable to this one in London at the moment.

big fernand

Oh and the sides and desserts are pretty good too.

You can actually find some Big Fernand recipes in the current issue of The Gazette. Unfortunately, The Gazette I had was in French! Don’t worry though, the English subscription copies will be in English, I just quite liked my French copy.

big fernand

Thank you for a lovely evening, Le Petit Ballon!

L xx

All photos my own unless otherwise stated.

Big Fernand Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

lescargotdrink

L’Escargot, a bit of a Soho institution (and one of few restaurants that welcomes dogs!), opened its first floor private members club, Club Privé, to the public this August in a collaboration with Fentimans. Since I don’t really want to spend £250 per year (£450 for over 28s!) for membership, I jumped at this chance to get inside!

lescargotbustFentimans had transformed the glass ceilinged bar into a Victorian style ‘greenhouse’ full of live botanicals. Very fitting to the company themselves, whose beverages are botanically brewed with natural ingredients. These plants, along with Fentimans mixers (naturally), are used to create the six cocktails on offer, each priced at £7;

Lillet Rose – Lillet Blanc , Fentimans Rose lemonade
Citrus Dream – Kettle One Citroen, Rosé Wine, Fentimans Victorian Lemonade
Little Treacle – Dark rum, lime, sugar, bitters and Fentimans Dandelion and Burdock
Curiosity – Bourbon, orange zest, Fentimans Curiosity Cola reduction
Easy Breezy – VII Hills Gin, grapefruit, Fentimans 19.05 Herbal Tonic
Fearless Fun – Tequila, Cointreau, Fentimans Ginger Beer

lescargotdrinks

Between four of us, we tried them all. By far my favourite was the Lillet Rose, which was seasoned with black pepper!

Each day, a selected cocktail is reduced to £5, and if you find one of the golden snails hidden around the botanical bar you can redeem it for a free cocktail! Sadly I didn’t find a golden snail, although I didn’t look very hard!

lescargotfoliage

As will become very obvious as this blog grows, I like my food! And especially a good burger. So I couldn’t resist ordering from the small (but varied!) ‘bar snacks’ menu. I went for the Burger Deluxe with Gruyère and bacon at £14 (which came with fries, thankfully, as fries on their own are £5!).

lescargotburger

When I ordered and was told my burger would only be served well done (a well done burger at a French restaurant? Really?) I was a little put off but I have to admit it was still delicious. Very well seasoned and obviously good quality ingredients. No sauces or out of the ordinary garnishes, just nice and simple. Well worth the £14. We also ordered a side of cheese straws priced at £4.

While we were there we were amused to witness a birthday party for VII Hills Gin, completely with cake (which we nabbed a few slices of, naturally!) and Happy Birthday sung to, erm, gin!

lescargotgin

And obviously, as we’re unlikely to come back to Club Privé any time soon, we had to have a little nosey around! As well as the bar where the pop up was held, there are three other rooms, including a library and poker room.

This red room was my favourite! (Georgia was a little drunk, haha!)

lescargotredroom

We had such a lovely night, and loved the bar – it was so open and airy (especially as it was actually such a small space!) and the bar staff were attentive and friendly. It definitely has me wanting to go back!

lescargotbike

As for the drinks, they were a bit unusual but it’s nice to try something nice once in a while! I’m still not sold on herbal soft drinks, but I will be purchasing the Rose Lemonade to try on its own!

L xx

All photos my own.