London’s Best French Restaurants
There’s a famous French idiom that goes a little something: “Pour bien cuisiner il faut de bons ingrédients, un palais, du coeur et des amis.” That roughly translates in English to mean: “To cook well you need good ingredients, a palace, a heart, and some friends.” While I agree with about 75% of that quote, I’m not completely sure that I concur with the whole palace part. There’s plenty of good cooking to be found outside of palaces and France – as a nation that A) invented the very concept of a restaurant, and B) famously hasn't gotten along with royal families in palaces – is somewhere the whole democratisation of food and good cooking is vitally important.
Restaurants are an integral part of French culture and the French gastronomy scene is, as a result, one of the most well respected in the world. You don’t, however, have to hop on the EuroStar for your only chance to sample French fine dining and bistro fare. London has long been a melting pot of different cultures and it's home to a number of très chic French eating establishments.
From petit cafés to eye-wateringly expensive high-end restaurants, London contains pretty much the whole gamut of French cuisine. What I’ve taken the trouble to do is sift through the miasma of options out there (sampling more onglet and gougères than any sane man should consume) to present you with our list of London’s best French restaurants. Or, rather, the best restaurants in London for sampling French-ish food.
The good bulk of these restaurants are as French as escargot and Notre-Dame though a few others earn their French passport due to their sensibilities and attitude. They're still worthy of inclusion, though, thanks to their unique takes on Francophone cooking. These are the best French restaurants in London, Mob. Bonne dégustation.
The 10 Cases
The 10 Cases is a bistrot à vin that specialises in Franco-European food and a shit-hot selection of quality wines. They only ever order in 10 cases of each wine (hence the name), so you’re always guaranteed to find a new and exciting bottle on the list. Plates of artichoke barigoule, daube-style pig cheek with pommes aligot, and crimson onglet are just a few of the Gallic stunners that have come out the pass in the past. There’s not much else to say, really, apart from that I’ve got a massive crush on this bijou bistro. Take someone you love here as soon as you can.
16 Endell Street, WC2H 9BD
It’s rare to find a restaurant in London that makes you forget you live in a city where pints regularly cost over £6 but Maison François is a proper escape. Dining here is like going on a little French vacance with head chef Matthew Ryle’s menu reading like the back of a ‘Now, That’s What I Call French Cuisine’ CD. I’m talking ratatouille with sauce au pistou, pâté en croûte, entrecôte de boeuf au poivre, and piles upon piles of crispy pommes frites. You’ll need a quick brush up on your Duolingo to understand half of what’s on offer but, served in a chic and shiny ambience, Maison François is an unrelenting delight.
34 Duke Street, St. James's, SW1Y 6DF
There’s nothing quite like the sight of a rotisserie chicken on a spit, glistening with fat and turning with all the grace of a ballerina in a music box, to excite the appetite. The fact that’s the first thing you’re greeted with when you walk into Royale in Hackney is all the assurance you need that you’re going to have a good meal. The corn-fed Anjou chickens here are spit-roasted on a vintage Rotisol, and it’s that commitment to detail that makes head chef Lucy Timm’s ode to Provençal fare one of the most accomplished in the city. The menu is an ode to the legacy of Lulu Peyraud; plates of freshly made panisse and pork and rabbit rillettes underline Timm’s honest approach to French cuisine while the option to order a whole chicken with dripping potatoes is, quite simply, impossible to pass up. Come hungry and order as much as possible.
Liquor Co, 221 Grove Road, E3 5SN
Noble Rot Soho
This is the only restaurant in the whole of London where you can get a whole roast chicken served with morels, vin jaune, and riz au pilaf to share for two. It’s also the only restaurant where you have the option to share that with absolutely no one if you’re properly hungry. Chef Alex Jackson is on the hobs at Noble Rot Soho and this supremely wine-literate restaurant has been churning out plate after plate of classic French-ish cuisine since its opening. Quality produce like Morteau sausage and Noir de Bigorre ham all make regular appearances on the menu while the red wine poached pear with custard and a pain d'dpices crumb is a luxurious mainstay to end the meal on. You will eat and drink well here, my friend.
2 Greek Street, W1D 4NB
Provender is a practical, friendly neighbourhood bistro in Wanstead. That might not sound like the highest of compliments; however, finding a serviceable restaurant that won’t gouge you in the wallet but will leave you feeling full is getting harder and harder to find. The prix fixe at Provender is the way to go. With plenty of hearty dishes (slow-cooked lamb neck? Check) alongside a strong stable of snack-sized casse-croûtes, the menu is designed to appease just about everyone.
17 High Street, E11 2AA
Ah, yes, Brasserie Zédel. Look: I know it looks like it'll be chintzy and cheesy but Brasserie Zédel is super affordable and the food is good. Taking into consideration what it sets out to achieve, and how perfectly the aesthetic of the place ramps up the glamour of it all, you could argue it’s one of city’s most faultless restaurants. It’s certainly one of London’s best French restaurants. Genuinely. Come here for the steak haché and frites and you’ll be smitten, too, I’m sure.
20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED
It’s not cheap, but this Michelin-starred restaurant is a bonafide classic. Or should that be: classique? If you were to picture the ideal French restaurant in your head, it’s likely that the image you’d conjure up would be pretty similar to Chez Bruce. White tablecloths, gleaning cutlery, attentive staff, the faint honk of Bleu des Basques. Chez Bruce has got it all. This is where to go when you want a reminder of why the French are so damned good at fine dining. Timeless.
2 Bellevue Road, SW17 7EG
Yoann Chevet and his wife Sujin Lee opened Sinabro in 2014. Since then, it’s been one of the most in-form French restaurants in London. It’s not hard to see why Sinabro has that Gallic formula nailed when chef Yoann’s CV comprises stints at a glut of astounding restaurants including Taillevent, Le Meurice, La Table de Joël Robuchon, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, and Galvin at Windows. While Yoann is no stranger to high-end dining, Sinabro offers a far more relaxed and casual experience thanks to Sujin’s warm presence and command of the front of house. It’s also a restaurant that’s much friendlier on your wallet than Yoann’s previous employers. The £39 set menu is a unique and delicious taste of France and one of the best value tasting menus around. Please go here. It’s lovely.
28 Battersea Rise, SW11 1EE
Taking notes from the boulevard cafés of Paris, Soutine is a neighbourhood restaurant that's sat happily in St John’s Wood. Corbin & King rarely miss and the restaurateurs have certainly hit the mark with Soutine’s French-accented flair. This is the sort of place you can sit down, order a steak tartare, and people watch to your heart’s content. It’s open throughout the day and, honestly, I’d be half tempted to eat every meal of the day here if I could. There's an unmatched atmosphere here when it’s buzzing.
60 St John's Wood High Street, NW8 7SH
Bistrotheque is one of those restaurants that serves objectively simple French food (think confit duck with puy lentils and green sauce or a Provençal bourride heaped with a fat smack of aioli) that’s cooked to a very standard. The dining room here is one of the most striking around; a converted warehouse that’s been decked out with a classy bar and piano to fit in with east London’s yuppie crowd. The overwhelming whiteness of the walls owes a tip of the hat to British institution St JOHN but the food is firmly français. They’ve even got French toast on the brunch menu, just in case you didn’t get the memo,
23-27 Wadeson Street, E2 9DR
Although it might not be an explicitly French restaurant, Albertine has got a bavette with café de Paris butter and frites on its menu and offers a baguette as a snack option which means – in my opinion – it definitely counts. Allegra McEvedy can be found stove-side producing wonderful seasonal dishes while the locale’s deep-pocketed wine list is the gift that keeps on giving. Take a wine geek here and they’ll have an absolute field day roaming through the Rhone.
1 Wood Lane, W12 7DP
Frenchie by name, Frenchie by nature, this Parisian import from Gregory Marchand is a banquette-boothed brassiere that’s perfectly designed for a long lunch over a bottle of wine. The menu is seasonal and always shifting but past dishes have included the likes of fig foie gras pressé and pungent gougères.
16 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QH
London's oldest French family-run restaurant, Mon Plaisir (which aptly translates to mean “my pleasure”) has been a purveyor of quality French cuisine for over fifty years. The Lyonnais bar at the back of the restaurant adds to the venue’s kitsch charm while hearty dishes like escalope de veau and tartiflette don’t beat around the bush. This isn’t a frou-frou spot for delicate gastronomy: it’s a restaurant where you will enter hungry and leave fed. Probably craving a Gauloises and a pastis.
19-21 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9DD
Naughty Piglets describes itself as a restaurant that has “an English heart with a French accent”. Founded by Margaux Aubry and Joe Sharratt, it’s a buzzy little south London bistrot that deals heavily in charm. Seasonal small plates rarely disappoint while the natural wine list offers an insight into nu-French cuisine. If this restaurant were in Paris, it’s where all the hip Parisians would be dining at.
28 Brixton Water Lane, SW2 1PE
Taking up two floors of space, Noizé is an impressive restaurant in the heart of Fitzrovia that deals in seasonal French food. The ingredients are sourced from small, independent suppliers and used to great effect in dishes of pig cheeks with pomme purée and confit salmon with Granny Smith, fennel salad, and horseradish. Head chef George Farrugia, who trained under the legendary Eric Chavot, has created a menu of flavourful and well-executed dishes that aren’t anywhere near as needlessly fancy as the restaurant’s postcode. A very good restaurant. And it’s even BYOB.
39 Whitfield Street, W1T 2SF
The French House
This Soho pub might be best known as a drinking haunt for the debonair but the upstairs dining room has just as much of an impressive pedigree. First opened (and manned) by Margot and Fergus Henderson, the kitchen has also played host to talents like Anna Hansen and Florence Knight with current head chef, Neil Borthwick more than doing justice to The French House’s legacy. Expect French classics cooked with a rakish confidence and don’t – for the love of God – let this place be ruined by city boy bankers.
49 Dean Street, W1D 5BG
Clipstone is London’s answer to the French bistro. Head chef Stuart Andrew has been running the kitchen since the day it opened with the intention of making Clipstone a bastion of good and honest cooking in a neighbourhood that’s lacking in honesty. Too many joints in Fitzrovia are happy to rob you blind with bland food whereas Clipstone is out to do the opposite. It’s not dirt cheap but the three-course lunch menu is a comparative snip at £32. Make sure to get the house-made pork and duck rillettes – served with briny cornichons and toast, it’s the ideal way to start a meal.
5 Clipstone Street, W1W 6BB
I’m not going to lie to you: Michel Roux Jr's two Michelin-starred restaurant is expensive. Like £32.80 for tartare expensive. The difference, of course, is that that tartare isn’t beef but Hampshire Fallow deer and doesn’t just come topped with a raw egg yolk but a confit egg yolk with juniper and pickled walnut. Le Gavroche doesn’t have any qualms about charging £50 for a steak but it also doesn’t take the piss. You know what you’re getting in for, and that’s a very accomplished meal cooked by a brigade of supremely talented chefs.
43 Upper Brook Street, W1K 7QR
Brothers Maxime, Malik and Yannis Alary are the men responsible for Blanchette in Soho. Named after their mother, the restaurant was created in the vein of your typical Parisian bistro with the food having been given an inventive twist. Wild mushroom mille-feuille with sorrel and truffle sums up that devil may care approach to the classics – an attitude that has thankfully resulted in some of the most deliciously laidback French food in London. Every primo plate is delivered with such a nonplussed shrug of the shoulders that it’s impossible not to be charmed by Blanchette and its mission.
9 D'Arblay Street, W1F 8DR
Expensive? Oui. Exceptional? Oui. La Trompette has been open for over two decades now, filling Chiswick locals with more Fourme d’Ambert and Pouilly-Fumé than you’d care to believe. Michelin-starred restaurants that rely on locals are like hen’s teeth yet here, seated comfortably on Devonshire Road, is an example of just that. It’s the beating Bordeaux-drenched heart of the neighbourhood.
3-7 Devonshire Road, Chiswick, W4 2EU