French Restaurants in Soho
1. Antidote Wine Bar French restaurant in Soho 12a Newburgh Street - W1
2019 Review: Quirky, French-run wine-bar (plus upstairs dining room) tucked away just off Carnaby Street, which has dropped on and off the foodie radar in recent years. Scores currently are well off their highs of a few years ago, but it’s still tipped for its wine list and reasonable selection of accompanying nibbles (which incorporate some fairly substantial options).
2. Folie French restaurant in Westminster 37 Golden Square - W1F
2021 Review: Frenchman Guillaume Depoix has taken over a corner site in Golden Square (previously a PizzaExpress), with a view to opening ‘the perfect Soho brasserie’ in November 2019 (a brave post-Brexit move, we think). He has extensive front-of-house experience, with four years in London under his belt, plus Alain Ducasse’s Plaza Athénée.
3. Brasserie Zédel French restaurant in Piccadilly 20 Sherwood St - W1
“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”.
4. Prix Fixe French restaurant in Soho 39 Dean St - W1
“A decent French option in Soho”, with a “good varied menu” – this brasserie (sibling to nearby Pierre Victoire) provides “excellent value for the West End”. It’s especially “handy for the early fixed-priced menus”; after 6pm, despite the name, it moves to an à la carte format – which “isn’t as much to shout about”.
5. Gauthier Soho Vegan restaurant in Soho 21 Romilly St - W1
“There’s an unrivalled emphasis on providing top-quality vegan cuisine” at Alexis Gauthier’s “wonderfully quirky” venue: a “charming townhouse”, “tucked away in the middle of Soho”, where “you ring the bell at the front door to get entry”. When he launched it in 2010, the menu was just like any other high temple of French gastronomy (“his foie gras used to be the best”). But gradually he has taken away the meat, going ‘proudly 100% vegan’ on June 23rd 2021, to offer “serious, considered cooking… that just doesn’t happen to have animal products”; and – for London – presents arguably “the best vegan menu for gourmets”. In a similar vein, the accompanying wines (also vegan) “are chosen carefully and presented with knowledge and real enthusiasm”. The journey has been followed by some reporters all the way from his days at Roussillon in Pimlico, but there’s disagreement over its ultimate success, and this has impacted ratings somewhat. Advocates say “the vegan tasting menus will convert even the most red-blooded meat-eater” (“as a confirmed carnivore, I didn’t miss the meat here at all”); while sceptics say “I used to give it a 5 all-round and it’s still excellent, but as an omnivore I’ve lost a reason to visit with the new focus”. A fair middle summary? “It was actually better before turning vegan, but is still very good”. Top Tip: Gauthier at Home, the home delivery business, also gets a big thumbs-up.
6. Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte French restaurant in Westminster 50 Dean St - W1D
“If you like steak-frites, Relais de Venise can’t be beaten”, say fans of this vieille école French steakhouse chain, where a set menu (including second helpings) of walnut salad, frites, and sliced entrecôte beef with a ‘secret’ sauce has been served in Paris since 1959. “Still a good place to eat, and I’ve been going to their restaurants for over 40 years.” A London branch opened in Marylebone 15 years ago, followed by Soho and the City. There’s a choice of desserts, with sticky toffee pudding added as a concession to les Rosbifs.
7. Sketch, Lecture Room at Library French restaurant in Mayfair 9 Conduit St - W1
“Glitz and completely OTT surroundings make this an experience that will be remembered” – there’s all-round applause for this “fabulous and very romantic” dining room, on the top floor of a Mayfair palazzo of fairy tale grandeur. For the most part, despite the terrifying pricing, this praise also extends beyond the “magnificent” setting to the “superb” cuisine, which is overseen (from afar) by star chef Pierre Gagnaire. Meals “come with so many bits and bobs, so you don’t really know where to start” but on nearly all accounts it’s “superb”. Whether Michelin should really have awarded it three stars, though, is debatable. A fair summary: “Grade A for effort, but it’s all a bit too much”.
8. Sketch, Gallery French restaurant in Mayfair 9 Conduit St - W1
If you want to visit this “fantastical location” within Mourad Mazouz’s lavish Mayfair palazzo – a vision in pink from designer David Shrigley – then afternoon tea is the way to go: “it’s one of the more expensive options in town”, but “fabulous”. For dinner, however, this wacky chamber often seems “overpriced”, although – to be fair – this appears to be of absolutely no concern to the fashionista crowd it perennially attracts. Go once, anyway, to visit the egg-shaped loos!
9. L’Escargot French restaurant in Soho 48 Greek Street - W1
“A beautiful interior from another era and a lovely, unhurried, relaxing experience” underpin the period appeal of Brian Clivaz and George Pell’s Soho veteran – London’s oldest French restaurant, they say (est 1927). The introduction of a sushi and cocktail menu is a recent innovation, alongside a French menu the charm of which is its traditional style: snails in garlic butter, lobster bisque, chateaubriand…. It doesn’t attract as many reports as once it did, but fans say “a romantic evening spent here is utter perfection”. (For those up Aldeburgh way, it now has a country sibling too, L’Escargot sur Mer).
10. Evelyn’s Table at The Blue Posts British, Modern restaurant in Chinatown 28 Rupert Street - W1D
Star chef Luke Selby (former head chef of Hide), together with brothers Nathaniel and Theo, now runs this intimate 10-seat counter experience in the cellar of the 275-year-old Blue Posts pub in Chinatown, which melds a love of British produce, Japanese techniques and classic French training. We’ve rated it on limited but outstanding initial feedback and the impossibility of getting a table – bookings are released on the first of every month, at midday.
11. Little Social British, Modern restaurant in Westminster 5 Pollen Street - W1S
Briefly branded ‘No 5 Social’, Jason Atherton’s “fun” bistro sits on the other side of the street from his original ‘Social’ mothership. Chef Frankie van Loo’s relatively straightforward menu is well-priced (three courses for £35) and wins solid support.
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