French Restaurants in London
1. Cabotte French restaurant in Bank 48 Gresham St - EC2V
“A stunning treasure trove of Burgundy wine” is just one of the attractions of this “buzzy and down-to-earth” three-year-old, near the Guildhall. The serving crew are “super friendly” and “knowledgeable”, while the regional French cuisine from head chef Edward Boarland is “luscious, beautiful, and nourishing (almost comfort food, but the quality is super-high)”. Often tipped as a top choice for business entertaining, it’s nevertheless “one of the very few such City restaurants in which you would want to actually spend your own money!”
2. La Trompette French restaurant in Chiswick 5-7 Devonshire Rd - W4
“We schlep across town from E18 two or three times a year and we always have a wonderful experience!” – this “consistently fabulous” destination occupies a low-profile location in a Chiswick sidestreet, but remains the “go-to-choice in West London” for many reporters and “rivals many more high-profile West End temples of gastronomy”. Like its even-more-famous stablemate, Chez Bruce, its “bright”, neighbourhood-style interior is smart but far from flash – the “spoiling experience” it delivers derives from its “seriously imaginative and beautifully executed” modern cuisine and its “seamless and charming” service. And it offers “very good value”, too: “this is exactly what every restaurant at this price point should aspire to”. On the downside, the table layout can seem “too crowded”, and there were also very occasional good-but-not-great meals reported this year: “are they a bit stretched since they added more covers?”
3. Seven Park Place French restaurant in St James's 7-8 Park Pl - SW1
“Consistently lovely food” over the past 10 years has earned an ecstatic, if limited, foodie following for low-key chef William Drabble, who “remains a hit in the kitchen rather than on the TV screen”. The “cosy” and “romantic” dining room of this hideaway luxury hotel in St James’s also benefits from “cute, quirky decor and friendly, helpful staff”.
4. Bellamy’s British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair 18-18a Bruton Pl - W1
“Everybody is smartly attired which makes a nice change” at Gavin Rankin’s (ex-MD of Annabel’s) “old-fashioned-in-a-good-way” bastion: “a picture-lined dining room”, tucked away in a quiet mews, which – to those of a blueblooded disposition – makes “a much more attractive choice than some of its flashier Mayfair rivals”. “Well-drilled”, traditionally-attired staff deliver “classic” – if “fairly simple” – Anglo/French cuisine and, in particular, the package makes “an excellent choice for a business lunch” (of the kind where “a couple of dry Martinis before you get started will not raise an eyebrow”).
5. La Poule au Pot French restaurant in Pimlico 231 Ebury St - SW1
“Get snuggly” at this “engaging if somewhat faded”, “typically Gallic” 1960s-“throwback” in Pimlico, whose “dark”, candle-lit interior and “cosy tables hidden away in nooks and crannies” make it “one of the most romantic restaurants of all time” (it was Londoners’ No. 2 for romance in the last survey). Foodwise, “there’s no nonsense, no surprises” – just “very traditional French classics” that are “still passable” (“cuisine grand mére” – think calf’s liver, coq au vin, cassoulet), served by “the most colourful French waiters”. Top Tip – “idyllic terrace for long lunches and dinner al fresco”: “you could imagine yourself in a little French marketplace having a simple bistro-style lunch”.
6. Le Garrick French restaurant in Covent Garden 10-12 Garrick Street - WC2
“A delightful throwback to the French bistros of the 1980s, set over a couple of floors, with tables crammed into nooks and crannies” – this Covent Garden stalwart is “very romantic, with its candles and cosy booths”. The “traditional, unpretentious food” is “good value” (“nothing fancy, but consistent”) while the “staff are so friendly”: if you’re in a hurry pre-theatre, “they put you through fast without seeming to hassle you”, but “if you have more time they let you linger”.
7. Clarette French restaurant in Marylebone 44 Blandford St - W1U
These “refitted pub premises” are in their second year as a Marylebone wine bar, brought to us by a part of the family which owns world-famous claret, Château Margaux. Winning solid ratings for its “smart small-plates of French bistro cooking” and “great service” – it’s “all very nice, but too expensive” to attract much feedback… unless you’re tempted by a glass of 1999 vintage Margaux for £160.
8. Les 110 de Taillevent French restaurant in Marylebone 16 Cavendish Square - W1
“You will never get bored, although you might get drunk!” at this London scion of Paris’s famous Taillevent group, where “you can try 110 different types of superb wine by the glass”. Set in “an attractive former private banking hall” – on the opposite side of Cavendish Square from the back of Oxford Street’s John Lewis – its “staff are extremely well-drilled and make everything effortless and smooth”. However, “the total cost of a meal takes it out of brasserie territory”, while the “seasonal French cuisine”, though “enjoyable”, doesn’t always seem in keeping with the level of ambition that the final bill might imply.
9. Celeste at The Lanesborough French restaurant in Knightsbridge Hyde Park Corner - SW1
Dining in this grand hotel by Hyde Park Corner is a “truly amazing experience” and the food – overseen by Paris-based uber-chef Eric Fréchon – is by most accounts “lovely”. But this “most exceptional night out” requires you “to forget what it will inevitably cost!” – “it would be hard to be good enough to justify these prices” – which might explain why there can be “quite a few empty chairs”.
10. Brasserie Toulouse-Lautrec French restaurant in Kennington 140 Newington Butts - SE11
Nightly live entertainment jazzes up this bravely-located fixture, near Kennington’s cinema museum, which serves a variety of brasserie fare, majoring in steaks and other meaty, traditional Gallic dishes. Limited feedback this year, but all positive, including as a breakfast option.
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