As the great Renaissance scholar Erasmus once said, “the highest form of bliss is living with a certain degree of folly.”
And as we once said (right now) the only thing more blissful than a life of folly is… wait for it…. a trip to Folie, a glitzy first London restaurant for Guillaume Depoix, who’s created a modern French brasserie cloaked in the glamour of the 70’s Riviera. The menu cruises from the south of France right across to Italy, taking rustic Mediterranean fare and dialling it up a notch. And it all takes place in the sort of handsome corner building (overlooking Soho’s Golden Square) that you’re going to want to head to literally every time in the future that you want to impress somebody.
Teal velvet drapes circle the front door, providing a kind of air lock that allows your eyes a moment to readjust from the drab office buildings outside and prepare for the dazzling retro luxury within; all smooth curving lines; butter-soft leather booths; and high-gloss tables; with a cocktail bar shimmering with mustard velvet and gold fittings. If the peak of 1920’s-inspired decadence is Bob Bob Ricard across the road, Folie is its 1970’s counterpart.
© Yann Deret
Impressively, for all this opulence, the dining room doesn’t feel heavy or overpowering. Designers Studio KO (also behind Chiltern Firehouse and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakesh) have seen to that, lining the space with enormous windows that flood Folie with light during the day, and hold a mirror up to all that gold by night. And permeating it all is a slightly tongue-in-cheek, evocative soundtrack of 60s classics and bossa nova covers of Beatles tracks.
Heading up Folie’s kitchen is Christophe Marleix, who’s worked with Alain Ducasse across both sides of the channel for a decade. Drawing on traditional regional recipes, his menu features the likes of sea bream crudo (fresh off the Cornish dayboats and served with citrus and avocado); whole confit lamb shoulder to share; seared red mullet with a Bouillabaisse-style sauce – and generously loaded cheeseboards or tarte Tropezienne to top it all off. Oh, and order the chickpea panisses (watch the pronunciation) while you mull over the menu. Crispy on the outside, steaming hot on the inside, they’re a gourmand’s chips and will help you make all the right decisions….
…one of which, of course, is to linger for a nightcap at the bar, where they serve a list of signature cocktails (like the Victoire, named after Guillaume’s wife and mingling mezcal with pear liqueur, ginger and peach bitters) alongside typically French tipples, from Armagnacs to pastis.
NOTE: Folie is open daily, 9am-12.30am (11pm Sundays). You can find out more, and make a reservation, HERE.
Folie | 37 Golden Square, W1F 9LB
Main image: © Yann Deret / Updated 13th November 2019
Looking for a nightcap spot? Disrepute will follow on quite nicely…