Harden's survey result
“Transport yourself to an imaginary 1930s world of Parisian glamour, as might be imagined by Fitzgerald or Hollywood”, when you visit this Art Deco basement, “bang in the heart of town”, just seconds from Piccadilly Circus. “The vast (Grade I listed) room is a crowded symphony of marble and gold leaf, with an immense buzz” and is “a faithful facsimile of a traditional French brasserie”, complete with an excellent American Bar. Fans say “if you want to impress without spending a fortune then this is the place to go” and since its founding (in 2015) it’s become a byword for “affordable luxury”, with most folks tolerating its “dull and unmemorable” Gallic staples for the overall package. Since changes in the group, however, the equation is beginning to shift and fears are growing that “the package all-round is not quite good enough”. “Service in particular has fallen notably in the post-Jeremy King era” and for more critical types “the whole experience is rather underwhelming” (“it was busy, but instead of making the atmosphere vibrant, there was a tired feel to the experience”). That’s not yet the dominant verdict though: most diners still “never tire of visiting… it always feels like a wonderful and extravagant treat”.
“A unique feature in London’s dining scene” – this “incredible subterranean cathedral of Art Deco glamour and French classic cuisine” was created 10 years ago by Corbin & King in homage to the brasseries of Paris. It occupies a “vast” and “absolutely stunning Art Deco basement” (Grade I listed with “gilding, marble columns and red velvet seating”) and “what is so outstanding is to find a restaurant of this quality just a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus”. To be clear, the lengthy menu of brasserie staples “won’t surprise you” – the catering has always been “OK” at best, and the food score this year was beyond humdrum. But next to the “white tablecloths and terrific old-world atmosphere and buzz”; plus “formally attired” service that’s “efficient and charming”; then “the food is almost beside the point” and the availability of “some extremely cheap menus” underpins its “eyebrow-raisingly good value (so you can forgive it a lot)”. With the management changes within The Wolseley Hospitality Group just prior to our annual diners’ poll, many reporters feel “it’s sad to see the founders no longer involved” and continue to worry – “will its distinctive qualities be lost?” Top Tip – “try to go later in the evening when the band is playing for an authentic French vibe. Also pop into the Bar Americain for a pre- or post-dinner cocktail.”
“What a setting!” This “improbably glamorous and huge” destination – “well-located” just seconds from Piccadilly Circus – occupies a “magnificent” Grade I listed basement, whose gorgeous Beaux Arts / Art Deco interiors date from the 1930s. That it is, for many reporters, “the nearest thing in the UK to an authentic Parisian brasserie (reminiscent of La Coupole in Montparnasse)” is entirely by design as that is just what Corbin & King were aiming for when they established it in 2012. The brasserie fare – “good, safe, formulaic and French” – doesn’t typically set the world on fire, but was rated more highly than ever this year and is “amazing value for money in the heart of London’s West End”, making the venue “a favourite go-to when in town”. “If you stick with the cheaper dishes and daily specials you will get as close to a bargain as you are likely to get in this area”. Try to squeeze in a cocktail in the super-atmospheric bar. Or make an evening of it: “the cabaret show is not to be missed”.
“You’ll be so dazzled by the place that you may be inclined to overlook the food” – Corbin & King’s “improbably glamorous” recreation of an “archetypal buzzing Parisian brasserie” is “so handy, being just by Piccadilly Circus tube” and provides “unmistakable value for such opulent and elegant surroundings in the very centre of London”. The “huge”, Grade I listed chamber is an “amazing Art Deco underground ballroom”; “a wonderfully blingy, brightly-lit space with gold everywhere”. The “straightforward” French brasserie fare (soupe à l’oignon, boeuf bourguignon, steak haché…) from a huge menu is mundane by comparison… in fact it’s pretty mundane full stop. But whereas the odd critic brands results as “terrible”, most reporters feel that “you’d have to be a miserable sod to complain about anything at these prices” – “inevitably there are slips along the way and food can be inconsistent, but you get more bang for your buck here than at virtually any other London restaurant” (in particular “prix-fixe menus are astonishing value”). Top Tip – “there is also a beautiful Bar Americain”.
For 33 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. In a typical year, diners submit over 50,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK. Each year, the guide is re-written from scratch based on this survey (although for the 2021 edition, reviews are little changed from 2020 as no survey could run for that year).
Have you eaten at Brasserie Zédel?
Brasserie Zédel Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Still the best andouillette in town. Standards are as good as they were under the previous owners. Wonderful value. How do they do it!"
"Good cocktail barman able to make the classics well. Tasty food. No cheap but not a bank-breaker either."
"Very busy with good service and food and a reasonable fixed price menu for W1"
"Despite changes in ownership, this Brasserie has kept its character over the years and still offers outstanding value for money considering its location. This is a classic French brasserie right in the middle of London. You know what to expect on the food and they deliver it exactly as it should be. Service is similarly predicatble. However, the ambiance is terrific."
"A great spot for a pre-theatre dinner. Very good value menu's available. And the live music is always a treat. "
"A fab find. Perfect for the theatre. Good service and food. Reasonably priced."
"Always reliable post theatre venue "
"Brasserie Zédel does one thing really well and that's atmosphere. The brasserie is a time machine that transports an imaginary 1930's Paris - imagined by Fitzgerald via Hollywood - to a grand setting in central London. The service is decent and the food is more than passable. My advice is order the prix-fixe and you won't be disappointed. Accompany it with the house red and if a dry martini is your thing, order one. It won't be a great martini - although it will be good - but is is a great place to drink a martini. Munch on the excellent bread, enjoy your steak haché with the very good frites and sit back, observe your varied and diverse fellow diners and soak up the atmosphere. Did I mention the athmosphere?"
|Wine per bottle
20 Sherwood St, London, W1F 7ED
|12 pm‑11 pm
|12 pm‑11 pm
|12 pm‑11 pm
|12 pm‑11 pm
|12 pm‑11 pm
|11:30 am‑11 pm
|11:30 am‑10 pm