French Restaurants in Mayfair
1. 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”).
2. 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”.
3. Hélène Darroze, The Connaught Hotel French restaurant in Mayfair Carlos Pl - W1
Hélène Darroze’s luxurious Mayfair temple of gastronomy, within Mayfair’s most blueblooded hotel, is celebrating its tenth year with a two-month closure, to re-open in September 2019. A revamp is promised, care of French design house, ‘Pierre Yovanovitch Architecture d’Intérieur’ (whose aesthetic, we are told in the PR, ‘focuses on bold re-imaginings of historic spaces, combining the contemporary with luxury materials’). There will also be the addition of a new chef’s table and dedicated Armagnac room; plus a new menu ‘rooted in Hélène’s culinary style, with a larger focus on British producers and suppliers’. The survey consensus on its former incarnation could be summarised as “exceptional cuisine albeit at extortionate prices” to appeal to “a crowd of plutocrats and their lawyers, and very old-money types”: we’ve maintained last year’s rating on the conservative assumption that its new incarnation will be a case of ‘plus ça change’…
4. Galvin at Windows, Park Lane London Hilton Hotel French restaurant in Mayfair 22 Park Ln - W1
“Breathtaking panoramic views over central London” make this “refined”, 28th-floor eyrie a natural place for a date or celebration – or “to impress out-of-towners” – and “sipping a cocktail whilst looking at our great city is a special experience” (try to secure a window table when you book). Standards by-and-large avoid the complacency typical of rooms with a view: service is “professional” and most diners feel the cooking is “wonderful and beautifully presented”. Naturally the experience is fully priced but… Top Tip – “set lunch is excellent value”.
5. LPM (fka La Petite Maison) French restaurant in Mayfair 54 Brook's Mews - W1
“Beautiful, light, fresh sharing plates” bring a taste of Mediterranean sunshine to a glam Mayfair crowd at this spin-out of a famous Côte d’Azur haunt – “not the usual cream and butter of French cooking, but delectable!”. Although, just as in the South of France, the arrival of the bill can induce a mild seizure. Chef Raphael Duntoye has tweaked the original formula here for the London market – “it’s nothing like the Nice original” – which he has since exported to the Middle East, Miami and most recently Hong Kong.
6. Sketch, Lecture Room at Library French restaurant in Mayfair 9 Conduit St - W1
Up the sweeping staircase of this vast Mayfair palace, this “spectacular, grand, imposing and romantic” dining room certainly looks the part for a fairytale date (hint: “it might be a bit OTT for some tastes”). Star chef Pierre Gagnaire’s “creative” and complex menu features some “really quirky and delicious touches” and for most reporters “its two Michelin stars are well-deserved”. Even some fans, though, feel the wine list in particular is “stupidly overpriced” and there is a school of thought that, although “the tasting menu is all very nice, dishes don’t really hang together too well”; or that you plain just “shouldn’t waste your money here”. “A selfie in the crystal-lined loos is a must though”.
7. Boudin Blanc French restaurant in Mayfair 5 Trebeck St - W1
“It feels like a proper Gallic bistro”; and this ‘petit coin’ of Mayfair’s cute and atmospheric Shepherd Market is reasonably “authentic” all-round – “the classic French cooking takes you away on holiday” all without leaving W1, and it’s most popular as a place for wooing a date.
8. Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester French restaurant in Mayfair 53 Park Ln - W1
Now a dozen years old: Alain Ducasse’s UK flagship is a “subtly decorated and beautiful” – some would say “spectacular” – looking chamber on Park Lane, which perennially divides opinion between those who say it “never lets you down” and opponents who say it “never fails to disappoint”. The latter camp have had the upper hand pretty much since the day it opened: they acknowledge a meal here is “a treat”, but focus their fire on the “ludicrous prices”, and the fact that its level of achievement is so “overhyped” by Michelin, who – seemingly on the grounds of Gallic cultural imperialism – insist on awarding this superstar Frenchman three stars, when one or two would be more than adequate!
9. Sketch, Gallery French restaurant in Mayfair 9 Conduit St - W1
Part of Mourad Mazouz’s lavish Mayfair palazzo, this OTT favourite (the ‘cheap’ dining option here – see also Sketch, Lecture Room) is a perennial hit with a Zoolander-esque crowd keener on looking ‘really, really, really ridiculously good looking’ than on the eclectic cuisine, which is very expensive, and can seem like a case of “Emperor’s new clothes”. Who cares though? – with David Shrigley’s pinker-than-pink design-scheme it’s “an Instagrammer’s dream”, and who doesn’t want to have paid at least one visit to the egg-shaped loos?
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