The best French restaurants in London
Courtesy of L’Escargot
We will always have Paris… but what happens when we are, well, in London? The capital groans with some of the best French cuisine this side of the Channel, staged in traditional settings that will make you think you’ve stumbled across a bar in the Marais or a bistro in Lyon.
From Provençal dishes to Parisian traditions, from Monegasque delights to the aromas of Alsace, flavors from all over France have been recreated and reinvented right here in London. Here’s our pick of the best French restaurants the capital has to offer, including affordable local haunts and Michelin-starred heavyweights.
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Varietal(s), Notting Hill
Could this be the most delicious French restaurant in the capital? This west London hideaway, in the heart of the village of Westbourne, is an intimate bistro bursting with charm, romance and atmosphere. The concept is ‘French tapas’ – small plates to accompany their copious bottles of quality wine. Although renowned for their wine list, the dishes here are more than remarkable. Highlights include roasted camembert with rosemary and honey, foie gras with grilled brioche and fondant dauphine potatoes with sour cream.
Varietal(s), 69 Westbourne Park Road, W2 5QH
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, Mayfair
Laden with not one, but three Michelin stars, this gastronomic paradise deserves its sparkling reputation. Here, the dishes are light, but rich in flavor and imagination. Executive Chef Jean-Philippe Blondet currently leads the Ducasse vision, weaving the magic of deceptively simple dishes, from multi-textured broccoli with Kristal caviar to asparagus dipped in watercress sabayon. The standout dish is a mix of lobster medallion, chicken dumplings, Périgod truffle and homemade semolina pasta – a frankly tasty meal that will undoubtedly eclipse anything you’ve ever eaten. All of this is accompanied by unparalleled service and a superb collection of wines from some of France’s finest winemakers.
Alain Ducasse at the DorchesterPark Lane, W1K 1QA
Francois House, Piccadilly
One of the newest Gallic additions to London, Maison Francois wasted no time in making an impression. The restaurant and wine bar in the heart of St James pays tribute to the great brasseries of Paris, Lyon and Alsace. Chef Matthew Ryle presides over a dizzying mix of classic dishes like homemade pâté en crust and peppercorn beef rib steak, as well as imaginative reimaginings of mussels marinière, gougères and turbot au Comté, white beans and a mussel sauce. After all that, make sure you don’t miss the dessert cart. Yes, you heard us.
Francis House34 Duke Street St James’s, SW1Y 6DF
A Soho institution since the 1920s, it’s a quintessential slice of Paris lodged in the heart of London. Always sparkling with atmosphere, live music and the effervescence of a Gallic brasserie, this place embodies the charm and – almost as a bonus – the cuisine is also delicious. The menu here doesn’t radicalize French cuisine but rather faithfully recreates Parisian cuisine, from lobster bisques and steak tartare to, yes, snails. There’s something to be said for traditional cuisine done right, and that’s what L’Escargot has been doing for almost 100 years.
The Snail, 48 Greek Street, W1D 4E
The Hen in the Pot, Belgravia
Since the 1960s, La Poule au Pot has been a French institution in London. It has an unpretentious charm that gives the impression of having stumbled upon a bistro in a small Provençal village. The dishes come from all over France, all simple and traditional dishes but with an undeniable panache, such as beef bourguignon, coq au vin and rataouille. The wine list is, naturally, impressive and don’t skip the dessert, which includes the best chocolate mousse this side of Lyon.
The Chicken in the Pot231 Ebury Street, SW1W 8UT
Two Michelin stars can’t be wrong. Michel Roux Jr’s famous gourmet restaurant was opened in 1967 by his father and uncle, and was then the epitome of Gallic cuisine in the capital. Its crown has barely slid since then and it still serves up some of the most inventive and delicious French dishes in London, with an old-fashioned, uncluttered elegance. Here, classic dishes are turbo charged with inventive and exciting flavors; like lobster cooked in beef fat, roasted turbot with lemon mousse and pear poached in spiced red wine on French toast with cinnamon ice cream.
The newsboy43 Upper Brook Street, W1K 7QR
After a magnificent renovation, this century-old restaurant has recently reopened on London’s iconic Piccadilly. Under the new management of Jamie Butler and Lewis Spencer, the restaurant stays true to its homage to Parisian brasseries and adds delicious new items to the menu, such as chef Jamie’s range of Cruffins – a delicate, flaky cross between a muffin and a croissant – with flavors such as passion fruit and banana cream, sea salt and caramelized white chocolate cream, as well as their signature vanilla bean and raspberry. Here, as in any self-respecting French restaurant, it is absolutely necessary to bring your greed.
Richoux172 Piccadilly, W1J 9EJ
Zedel Brewery, Piccadilly
One of London’s greatest restaurants, Zedel is nevertheless filled with a certain I do not know what under the expert stewardship of maestros Corbin and King. An intoxicating mix of American influence and traditional Parisian brasserie, the atmosphere is vibrant and very pleasant. The menu is a collection with no surprises – think ground beef and onion soup – but is expertly done and reasonably priced. It’s also a great one-stop-shop for a night out – from the crazy rooster cabaret to the American cocktail bar and the laid-back vibe of the ZL ground floor cafe.
Zedel Brewery20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED
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