French Restaurants in London
1. 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”.
2. 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”).
3. Caractère Mediterranean restaurant in Kensington and Chelsea 209 Westbourne Park Road - W11
“Absolutely the best new restaurant in the past year or so” – the Roux dynasty have come up trumps with this “great newbie in the Notting Hill ’hood”, on the site of Bumpkin (RIP). It’s the brainchild of Michel Roux’s daughter Emily Roux and her husband Diego Ferrari (former head chef at Le Gavroche). “Just around the corner from The Ledbury, but half the price and less formal” – it provides a “fabulous all-round experience”, founded on “outstanding” and “creative” cooking “born out of two great cuisines: French and Italian”. (However, “the unusual menu layout does take a moment to puzzle out”, with headings like Curious, Subtle and Greedy). “Impeccable service” and the “very comfortable” space, decorated with “quirky touches” complete the experience. Top Tip – “don’t miss the celeriac ‘cacio e pepe’”.
4. Le Gavroche French restaurant in Mayfair 43 Upper Brook St - W1
“Elegance… discreet service… classic French cuisine – they never go out of fashion”, and nowhere else in London can match Michel Roux Jr’s “grande dame of the London restaurant scene” for “perfect, old-school Gallic gastronomy”. Founded (on Sloane Street) in 1967 by his father Albert, this famous culinary temple has operated in Mayfair just around the corner from the former US embassy since 1982 and with MasterChef-maestro Michel at the stoves since 1991. Menus (with no prices in the lady’s version) are perused in the smallish ground floor lounge, before descending to the “dark and moody basement with its elaborate table ornaments”. To a few doubters the style is too “stuffy and formal” (or, alternatively, too dated and 1980s-tastic) – but to most visitors (some of whom are regulars of many decades’ standing) the milieu makes it “one of the capital’s best dining rooms, setting the perfect scene for any posh liaison”; with “soft furnishings and a layout that means one may hear and converse in quiet and relative privacy; and where it’s refreshing to find the standard of dress amongst the patrons still includes a suit and tie”. “Attention to detail and personal enjoyment shows in every aspect of the experience”: cooking is “superbly judged both in its selection and preparation”, and the “wine list is the work of an afternoon – hugely pleasurable to read and to attempt to absorb its width and variety!”. “Smooth, unobtrusive service” under maître d’ Emmanuel Landré, is “impeccable” – “ideally pitched from when you step through the door to the final farewell”; and Michel (usually in attendance) “is a charmer as well as a brilliant chef”, with “the personal visit from Le Patron making a special meal very special”. The bill? “It’s barely affordable, but worth saving for”: “a classic example of the rule, ‘you get what you pay for’ and, while expensive, good value for money”. Top Tip – “the renowned set lunch deserves every bit of its reputation”: “perhaps the best value prix fixe deal in town” and “always a top experience”.
5. Galvin La Chapelle French restaurant in Spitalfields 35 Spital Sq - E1
The “most enchanting setting” – “an out-of-this-world conversion of an old church” (to be precise, the chapel of a Victorian school) – makes the Galvin Bros’ Spitalfields HQ one of London’s most “beautiful” restaurants. It provides a “special” backdrop “for keen business deals, or to impress your new love-interest” (and is “a particular attraction for guests from overseas”). There are “high standards across the board”, including “fantastic” modern French cuisine; a “classy wine list”; and “smart, swift, discreet service”.
6. Noizé French restaurant in Fitzrovia 39 Whitfield St - W1T
Mathieu Germond, former manager of Pied à Terre, “has worked his considerable magic here”, and has created an “amazing wine list” with “very fair mark-ups” at his “very charming” Fitzrovia yearling (on the former site of Dabbous, RIP) – “go for his suggestions” from the “wide and interesting range, many by the glass”. Ed Dutton’s “delightful” French cuisine is “excellent too”, showing “genuine, old-school skill”, while the “tasteful decoration, with lots of natural light” and “spot-on” service (“personable” – “there when you need them and non-intrusive”) “make it an ideal spot for an informal business lunch, as well as more serious entertaining”.
7. 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” two-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!”
8. Pied à Terre French restaurant in Fitzrovia 34 Charlotte St - W1
David Moore’s illustrious Fitzrovian “continues to shine” under the tenure of head chef Asimakis Chaniotis, and this “elegant” townhouse remains one of London’s foremost temples of gastronomy. “Letting Chef Chaniotis take you through an evening with a custom tasting menu is second to none” – “he really is a master of meat, but they have great vegetarian and vegan tasting menus too”, and “there’s always something new and exciting” to sample. “An impressive wine list and a great sommelier’s intelligent recommendations” complete the formula. The proportions of the building are not expansive, but tables are “well-spaced” and the overall experience is an “intimate” one.
9. 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?”
10. Oslo Court French restaurant in St John's Wood Charlbert Street - NW8
“Like going on a 1970s cruise without leaving the shore” – this “crazy-but-fun throwback” at the foot of a Regent’s Park apartment-block is certainly “one of a kind”, and always “leaves you smiling”. “Faultless and charming” staff of decades’ standing bantering with silver-haired regulars of a not-dissimilar vintage create an atmosphere that’s “half restaurant – half theatre”: “there are always generations of families celebrating a birthday” and “the hubbub can be deafening, with cakes arriving at regular intervals”. The “absurdly retro menu” (crudités, melba toast, steak Diane…) is seemingly unchanged from when the place opened, and delivers “overwhelming helpings of well-cooked classic dishes, washed down with very sensibly priced wine”. “The renowned dessert waiter with his trolley is still there, but of late, no longer always does the same performance at the end of the meal, whereby he tells you what you want without you asking, and says ‘mama saved the last piece for you!’”
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