Jason Allen 08/05/21
That’s what Maison Francois is called in French.
But everything sounds just that little bit more elegant in French, and at this new St James’s restaurant, that extends across the entire restaurant. Everything in here seems just that little bit chicer, smarter, grander, and more sumptuous. It comes to us from rocket-like rising culinary star Matthew Ryle, who has parlayed a place in the MasterChef: The Professionals final into his very own kitchen in just a few months.
The space itself is built in the style of old school, grand brasseries of Paris, Lyon and Alsace. Having opened during the thick of the pandemic, all the seating feels quite wonderfully intimate, with burgundy-trimmed banquette seating all wrapped in trellised wood to help separate you from the rest of the room. A huge centrepiece Art Deco clock hangs over the open kitchen, where chefs are perpetually beavering away.
The menu’s all written in French, because that’s just what this restaurant is about, and because pommes de la terre – the apples of the earth – sounds so much better than ‘potatoes’. Things start off with the like of plump flatbreads overloaded with raclette & courgette, and satisfyingly chunky rabbit terrines. After that, there’s herbaciously succulent roast chicken, delicately flaky stone bass, and hearty pork chops glazed in mustard sauce. It’s all classic, and it’s all excellent. But the best is yet to come.
With the main courses over, you’ll then get to take a look at one of the many old-school touches that you wish would make a comeback. The dessert trolly. Oh dear lord, it’s torturous. The waiter/waitress will roll it over and brazenly pull out drawers loaded with eclairs, truffles, Paris Brest, madeleines, tarte tatin, rhum baba, macarons, and more. Choosing is near impossible, but at least it’s one of those good dilemmas which always have a happy ending.
Now’s also a good time to mention the new Sunday Lunch. Depending on the Sunday, you’ll be transported to a different region of ‘deep France’. From Toulouse to Lyon, the four-course set menu has been designed around the area’s signature dish – rich plates of cassoulet or poulet Célestine perhaps? – all excellently paired with wines spanning sparkling Mauzac to peppery Marcillac.
Speaking of, it should go without saying that the wine list is both extensive and French, and that a somm will happily navigate you through it. And should you fancy it, there’s a wine bar hidden underneath the restaurant space with takes on a little more of a sleeker London edge…
…which is probably why they decided to call it Frank’s.
NOTE: Maison Francois is open now. You can find out more, and make a booking at their website right HERE. Find out more about Frank’s wine bar here.
Maison Francois | 34 Duke Street, St James’s, SW1Y 6DF
Loved this? Check out our other recommendations of great French restaurants in London
34 Duke Street, St James's, SW1Y 6DF
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8.5 | Great
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