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Talisa Dean 05/06/24


The Best French Restaurants In London

French restaurants stand alone amongst world cuisines.

They’re one of the few places where you definitely don’t want them to treat you like royalty. In fact, they’re often at their best when they’re offering you pain. And you don’t have to hop the Channel to get some of the best – London’s own arrondissements have you covered.

So whether you’re searching for hors d’oeuvres or haute cuisine, pâtisserie or prix fixe, behold the tried-and-tested results of our own reconnaissance… the best French restaurants in London:

 

Bouchon Racine | Clerkenwell

Bouchon Racine

If you liked Henry Harris’ Racine, one of the all-time best French restaurants in London (though sadly now closed), then you’ll probably like Bouchon Racine too. It is Racine reincarnated after all, only styled as a bouchon (a typical Lyonnais restaurant) tucked away on the second floor of a 250 year-old pub in Farringdon. Here, Harris doles out the veritable who’s-who of classic French dishes – côte de boeuf for two with bearnaise sauce, duck confit, crème caramel – alongside a wine list that’s equal in its devotion to France. And, in being so unbelievably French, you better believe it makes one heck of a date night spot. Especially if you nab a candle-lit table in the glass-roofed balcony area that looks over the streets.

Details: 66 Cowcross St, EC1M 6BP | Book here

Les Deux Garcons | Crouch End

les 2 garcons french restaurant

Garcon nº 1: Robert Reid. Garcon nº 2: Jean-Christophe Slowik. Together, they are Les Deux Garcons, who, after years of working at restaurants in Paris, in Strasbourg, and then together in Marco Pierre White’s triple Michelin-starred Oak Room, finally decided to open their own place. This is that place, and after upscaling to a bigger spot after two years and winning a Michelin Bib Gourmand, it’s safe to say they’ve nailed the recipe. The classics are done to a tee here: garlic-slicked escargots; French onion soup; rustic poule au pot with sauce gribiche. And for a little theatre, the rum baba proves its boozy credentials by arriving in a plume of liquid blue fire.

Details: 14 Middle Lane, London N8 8PL Book here

The French House | Soho

The French House

Pubs don’t come much more legendary than The French House. A favourite of artists (Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud were regulars) and writers (Dylan Thomas is said to have left the manuscript for Under Milk Wood beneath his chair), this institution is all about the bonhomie and booze – a killer combination if ever there were one. Make your way through the crowds propping up the bar downstairs and head up to the serene dining room. Here, you’ll be able to feast on beef tartare, pork chops, confit garlic and more with the other bon vivants.

Details: 49 Dean St, W1D 5BG | Book here

Maison Francois | St James’s

Maison Francois french restaurants london

This classy French restaurant in St James’s is all about upmarket Gallic-style cuisine. Hidden behind the French half-window nets and a subtle cream exterior lies a terracotta-hued temple with intimate booths and natural wood screens. While the mains are a masterclass in the French classics – entrecôte de boeuf et al – the hors d’oeuvre and charcuterie menu is the real star for us. Order nearly everything – comté gougères; crab, puntarelle, monks beard, and croutons; anchovies, lemon, smoked chilli, and marjoram ­to name a few – along with a generous ration of pain de campagne, and sup wine from nearly every region of France. The downstairs bar Frank’s is worth a visit too, especially for a late night tarte tatin.

Details: 34 Duke Street St James’s, SW1Y 6DF | Book here

64 Goodge Street | Fitzrovia

64 goodge street

Will Lander & Daniel Morgenthau can’t miss: they already run a quartet of fantastic eateries across London (Clipstone, Portland, Quality Chop House & Quality Wines). So to absolutely nobody’s surprise, their fifth – 64 Goodge Street – cuts the moutarde too. This is chef Stuart Andrew’s ode to French cuisine, not aiming to replicate recipes entirely authentically, but to give them a modern interpretation. To that end, you’ll find dishes like garlicky snail & bacon bonbons; venison & haggis parmentier; and a sultry calvados syllabub. Transforming a former travel agent’s with deep olive walls and vintage lighting, this place will still transport you.

Details: 64 Goodge Street, London, W1T 4NF Book here

Camille | London Bridge

camille french restaurants london

New kid on the block Camille comes to you from Ducksoup founders Clare Lattin & Tom Hill, who in turn have bussed in chef Elliot Hashtroudi (fresh from a razor-sharp residency at 107 Wine) to man the kitchen for them. The menu he’s created is nothing short of exceptional, leaning into the nose-to-tail approach of traditional French dining with St John-worthy flair. Try the rich lamb’s liver, served with house-cured bacon, or the deep-fried Mangalitza rillettes, pick a whole John Dory clean, and finish up with the Burnt Milk Cheesecake – it’s outrageous.

Details: 2-3 Stoney Street, London SE1 9AA Book here

Casse-Croute | London Bridge

Casse Croute - London Bridge restaurants

Checkerboard floors? Check. Vintage French adverts on the walls? Check. Handwritten daily menu? Check. Welcome to Casse-Croute, a little piece of France on the gourmet alley of Bermondsey Street. Grab a seat in this bijou brasserie and choose from the three options per course written in French on the blackboard menu or reeled off with ease by your server – think côte de boeuf and crème brûlée washed down with a gutsy Saint Emilion.

Details: 9 Bermondsey St, SE1 3XB | Book here

Brasserie Zédel | Soho

Brasserie zedel french restaurant

This Soho stalwart is the epitome of glamour and glorious ’30s Art Deco. Originally part of The Regent Palace Hotel, Brasserie Zédel has been serving exceptionally good value French fare for decades. Opt for one of their set menus (the 4-course formule or 2-3-course prixe fixe) to get a good sense of the offerings, or go à la carte, where you’ll find vegetarian ragout of artichoke hearts alongside fillet of sea bream. Don’t miss a nightcap or apéritif in Bar Américain, and if you’re here in the evening, the house band will soundtrack your dinner.

Details: 20 Sherwood St, W1F 7ED | Book here

Bob Bob Ricard City | The City

bob bob ricard city french restaurant

Sibling to the preposterously lavish Soho original, Bob Bob Ricard is the City’s own culinary entente cordiale. Both sides of the Channel unite in a menu featuring Scottish beef tartare with baguette croutons; Stinking Bishop cheese soufflé; and the truffle & Champagne humble pie. And BBCR goes to every length to outshine the original, with a cellar full of magnums, private dining rooms inspired by the Royal Yacht, and enough gilding and glitz to imprint a permanent after-image on your retinas. Formidable.

Details: Level 3, 122 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3V 4AB Book here

The Midland Grand Dining Room | King’s Cross

midland grand dining room french restaurant

Restaurants don’t come much more show-stopping than The Midland Grand, which focusses on French rather than Brummy cuisine. Head chef Patrick Powell is at the top of his game here, turning out elegant bitesized comté gougères as fluently as robust red wine-drenched beef rib and roast duck à l’orange. For all its fancy trappings – the service is first class, as are the cocktails – you can avoid the bill to match by ordering from the set menu, with three courses at £38.

Details: St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, London NW1 2AR Book here

L’Escargot | Soho

l'escargot oldest french restaurant london

Quite possibly the oldest French restaurant in London, L’Escargot occupies all three stories of a townhouse on Dean Street, with a bohemian bar tucked away in the attic and a basement where they once farmed their own snails. Now sourced from an organic snail farm in Hertfordshire – such things exist – they’re still a mainstay on the plates (and the carpets), alongside signature dishes like Tournedos Rossini, lobster bisque and the legendary soufflé.

Details: 48 Greek Street, London, W1D 4EF Book here

Blanchette | Soho

blanchette french restaurant

Founded in 2013 by brothers Maxime, Malik and Yannis, Blanchette is all about family. It’s named after their mum, and even the menu has been built to share, family-style. The place is homely without being twee – instead the dining room blends rustic brick walls and reclaimed furnishings with marble countertops and art nouveau tiling. Having a private party? Reserve the 14-seat Jungle Room, sporting a giant rainforest mural by artist Aldo Gigli.

Details: 9 D’Arblay St, W1F 8DR | Book here

Le Relais de Venise | Marylebone & The City

relais de venise lentrecote

Yes, there’s only one main course here ­– steak frites. But there’s a reason that the place has been open in Paris since 1959, and that reason is that the one dish they do is absolutely delicious. You’ll have to search hard to find a better, more tender entrecote, with crispy French fries and a secret-recipe sauce. As you’d expect, the wine menu is a stellar roll call of French bottles. Don’t leave without having one of the famous desserts – chocolate profiteroles perhaps, or ‘Le Sticky Toffee Pudding London’ if you want to truly straddle the English Channel.

Details: 120 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2QG | 5 Throgmorton St, EC2N 2AD | Walk-ins only (prepare to queue)

Le Café du Marché | Barbican

cafe du marche

If candlelight, café curtains, and blackboard wine menus chalked in immaculate cursive feature highly on your French restaurant bucket list, Le Café du Marché is here to provide. Tucked down a little cobbled street by Smithfield Market and the exceptionally ancient Charterhouse, it’s a patch of both old London, and vieux Paris. Stalwarts of bavette steak and tartiflette hold court among daily specials of market fish and soupe de jour, and like any self-respecting restaurant, every main comes with chips as standard.

Details: 22 Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6DX Book here

The Ninth | Fitzrovia

The Ninth

If the exposed brick walls, moody lighting and inviting leather banquettes don’t tempt you, then the menus at this intimate Charlotte Street spot most definitely will. Helmed by renowned Japanese-British chef Jun Tanaka (you might recognise him off the telly), The Ninth serves up Mediterranean food with a French twist, and specialises in raw and cured dishes, and chargrilled meat and fish, plus a host of veggie options, such as the to-die-for roast celeriac, pickled mushrooms, and cavolo nero in a red wine jus. As if that’s not enough, it’s held a Michelin star for six years running.

Details: 22 Charlotte St, W1T 2NB | Book here

Cafe Boheme | Soho

cafe boheme french restaurant

Confit duck, steak frites and escargots are just a few of the dinner favourites you can enjoy at this Old Compton Street spot. But this place is more than just an evening affair, stop by for a petit déjeuner of croissants, coffee and juices, swing by at lunch for classic croque monsieur or tuna niçoise, or drop in for mussels & cider at 2am on a Friday night. As you’d expect, there’s a curated French wine list, and live jazz sessions nearly every afternoon.

Details: 13 Old Compton St, W1D 5JQ | Book here

Bleeding Heart Bistro | Farringdon

bleeding heart french restaurant

A cobbled courtyard with an insalubrious past. Crisp white tablecloths. Wine bottles erupting from every corner. The Bleeding Heart couldn’t convey its Frenchness more potently unless it hung a string of garlic cloves around the entrance. In reality a cluster of different establishments: a bistro, a more casual (and less French) tavern and a rose-swilling outdoor terrace, TBH is as reliable a spot for indulging in chateaubriand on the company card, or sharing a tarte tatin by candlelight. And all those bottles aren’t just for show: there’s over 350 on the wine list, with a couple dozen available by the glass.

Details: Bleeding Heart Yard, Clerkenwell, London EC1N 8SJ Book here

La Poule au Pot | Belgravia

best french restaurants london

French, rustic, countryside, cosy, crazy… it’s difficult to describe this curious little place in Belgravia. It’s been here seemingly forever and for each year that passes, something else gets added to its OTT interior, but then that’s all part of La Poule au Pot’s charm. Well, that and its exceptional paysan menu of guinea fowl, cassoulet, and ratatouille among other French faves. It makes an ideal date spot, and after just 10 minutes, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve accidentally hopped on the Eurostar to the French countryside.

Details: 231 Ebury St, SW1W 8UT | Book here

 


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