Brasserie Zédel, Soho
A French restaurant from the team behind The Wolseley and The Delaunay, Brasserie Zédel offers traditional Gallic dishes in beautiful art-deco surroundings (it’s been described by pro French chef Pierre Koffmann as “the only real brasserie in London”). We like the surprisingly affordable set menu, which allows diners to tuck into a carrot salad, followed by steak haché with french fries and peppercorn sauce for just £10.50. Away from cassoulet and escargot, there are cracking cocktails to be had in Bar Américain, and live music in subterranean cabaret bar Crazy Coqs.
20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED
Maison François, St James’s
St James’s restaurant and wine bar Maison François pays homage to the grand brasseries of Paris, Lyon and Alsace. Decorated with mirror-filled arches, art-deco chandeliers hung from 20ft ceilings and curved banquettes, this all-day venue focuses on simplicity and seasonality, starting with breads and fresh patisserie which are all made in house. Next, guests can order French classics such as reblochon gougères and jambon noir, alongside pasta dishes like ravioli dauphine with comté and black pepper, while whole fish and cuts of meat are cooked over a wood-fired grill and served with frites – we heartily recommend sharing the veal chop. When it’s time for pudding, a dessert trolley winds its way through the tables, filled with French classics such as layered gâteaux, praline paris-brests and a selection of seasonal fruit tarts. Before or after their meal, guests can head downstairs to Frank’s, a cool, late-night wine bar with a 250-bottle wine list.
34 Duke Street, St James’s, SW1Y 6DF
La Poule Au Pot, Belgravia
La Poule Au Pot has been a Belgravia institution since the 1960s. The rustic interior, with its intimate nooks and plethora of dried flowers and bric-à-brac, has changed little since it launched and offers an authentic recreation of paysan France. The spot has been voted ‘best for romance’ in Hardens’ restaurant guide many years in a row, and it’s no surprise – dinner is served by candlelight and its menu is classic French: think snails and mussels for sharing; crab salad; grilled sea bream with fennel and white wine sauce; and creme brûlée (with two spoons) for dessert.
231 Ebury Street, Belgravia, SW1W 8U
Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden
Settings don't come much lovelier than Clos Maggiore. With a forest of white blossoms, fairy lights and candles, this is a must-visit for couples. Often described as the capital’s most romantic restaurant, this Covent Garden institution is a lavish French bistro with a Provencal-leaning menu. Its standout space is its central indoor courtyard – a canopy of trees, set around a roaring fireplace – which makes for a genuinely striking scene. Make sure to order the roasted vermicelli pasta and native lobster fideuà with Ibérico chorizo, saffron and confit tomatoes.
33 King Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8JD
Balthazar, Covent Garden
New York brasserie Balthazar’s sister bistro in Covent Garden is a home away from home for Americans in London. A beautifully designed space from the team behind The Ivy, Balthazar’s quintessentially French menu offers a wide selection of classic dishes including escargots with garlic and butter, steak tartare, moules frites and dover sole meunière. Its popular weekend brunch includes summer berry pancakes, côte de boeuf, eggs benedict and a selection of mini pastries served with homemade jams and marmalade. For breakfast, the crab scrambled egg, sourdough and creme fraiche is seriously special. If you’re looking for a table for dinner, the niçoise salad with fresh seared tuna is a must.
4-6 Russell Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5HZ
This quaint, Parisian-style bistro serves up a menu of small sharing plates such as crispy frog legs, duck rillettes and confit duck. Each dish is a modern take on classic French cooking, using simple ingredients and a bold hit of flavour served in an intimate, candlelit room with marble counter tops, bistro stool seating and frolicking nude murals on the walls. For parties, the bistro has one of the prettiest private dining spaces in London. Hidden away behind a curtain at the back of the restaurant, the Jungle Room lives up to its name: verdant hand-painted wallpaper by artist Aldo Gigli is complemented by bright fresh flowers, candlelight and an opulent chandelier.
9 D'Arblay Street, Soho, W1F 8DR
Bob Bob Ricard, City
Five years in the making, Bob Bob Ricard’s City site finally opened in the Leadenhall Building just before the pandemic hit. A sister site to the Anglo-French-Russian-themed institution in Soho, this glossy spot celebrates French-Russian elegance. Expect wonderfully decadent interiors: the walls and ceilings are panelled with rosewood and marble and there are more than 800 bespoke light fittings (including 24 chandeliers). As per the original, the 'Press for champagne’ buttons are a fixture. For French fare, make sure to order from the ‘bistrôt deluxe’ menu – we’d go for the superlative steak tartare, cheese souffle and îles flottantes – poached meringues floating in light custard.
122 Leadenhall Street, City, EC3V 4AB
Soutine, St John’s Wood
Set on St John’s Wood High Street and taking inspiration from the great boulevard cafés in Paris, Soutine part of Corbin & King, the team behind the Wolseley and Colbert. The restaurant is set in an impressive period building: the front room and pavement offer a relaxed café and bar seating, leading to a slightly more formal space – resplendent with grand portraits – at the rear. The all-day offering takes in salads and sandwiches, café classics such as French onion soup, steak tartare and coq au riesling, plus a choice of pâtisseries, gâteaux and ice-cream coupes for dessert.
60 St John's Wood High Street, NW8 7SH
For brunch with a French twist, head over to the Bellanger in Islington, which serves up buttermilk pancakes and crepes over the weekends. With art-nouveau décor, booth seating and polished wood panelling, there’s an irresistible Parisian-café ambiance about the place, which provides a charming backdrop to everything from breakfast to late dinners. The all-day menu features French brasserie classics such as coq au riesling, confit de canard and steak frites. Sandwiches, salads, croques, eggs and tarte flambées are also offered along with a choice of cheese, desserts and ice-creams to finish.
9 Islington Green, Islington, N1 2XH
Those looking for a touch of Paris in London should head to all-day bistro Casse-Croûte, which comes with red-checked tablecloths and a menu full of French fare. On sunny days, expect to see owner Hervé Durochat out front promoting the menu du jour. With dishes changing daily, this isn’t a glammed-up Balthazar or Brasserie Zédel, rather it’s traditional neighbourhood dining at its best. For an idea of what’s on the menu, recent dishes have included salmon gravadlax with blini, pistachio choux buns with chocolate, and baked apples with caramel.
109 Bermondsey Street, Bermondsey, SE1 3XB
Frenchie, Covent Garden
The original Frenchie is in Paris and is one of the capital’s foodie gems. This London outpost is as good as the original and has steadily established itself as a discerning destination restaurant. It feels discreet, cosy and intimate, but at the same its interiors are grown up and glamorous. On the menu, expect to see the likes of hand-dived scallop en croute with duck foie gras and black truffle, followed by banoffee pie with nutmeg and caramelised pecans.
16 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8QH
One of D&D London’s original sites, this Marylebone spot has always combined high-end classic French cookery with a relaxed neighbourhood vibe. We love its smart floor-to-ceiling oval windows, its famously well-stocked cheese trolley and its proximity to The Conran Shop for a spot of post-lunch browsing. Our menu picks include potato ravioli with wild mushroom and butter emulsion, followed by poached salmon with butter beans, parma ham crumble and garlic purée. Come summertime, you’ll find us on the plant-filled terrace.
55 Marylebone High Street, Marylebone, W1U 5RB
Primeur, Stoke Newington
This is an independent venture from chef David Gingell and manager Jérémie Cometto-Lingenheim, whose past employers include Mark Hix, the Bistrotheque boys, and the Galvin, Boxer and Wright brothers. Primeur is a sister to Highbury’s well-loved spot Westerns Laundry, which is famed for its cosy atmosphere, small sharing plates and quirky wine list. Primeur’s menu is equally stripped back, with the restaurant itself occupying an old motor shop. There’s no set menu – instead check out its Instagram page to see what dishes lie in store.
116 Petherton Road, Stoke Newington, N5 2RT
Clapham Common’s Soif is a charming, Parisian-style neighbourhood bistro and wine bar, bursting with character and atmosphere. Part of the same group as Terriors in Charing Cross and Brawn in Hackney, this popular spot focuses on excellent natural and biodynamic wines. If that’s not your thing, any day of the week you can bring whatever you fancy to drink and pay just £10 corkage. Menu highlights include vacherin Mont D’Or with potatoes, ham and chicory; followed by chocolate and salted caramel fondue or pears with chantilly and hazelnuts.
27 Battersea Rise, Battersea, SW11 1HG