London’s array of French restaurants are utterly charmant.
They say nothing compares to Paris in the spring. But if you can’t manage a trip to the City of Love, there’s still a chance to get a taste of France in London. Roundup your monsieur or mademoiselle du jour, and take them to one of these romantic French restaurants.
Michelin starred French restaurants
The creme de la creme of French restaurants in our fair city.
The only one of London’s French restaurants to rack up the maximum three Michelin stars, the seven course tasting menu here will set you back £140. But then again, quality rarely comes cheap…
2. Le Gavroche
It translates as “the urchin”, not that you’ll see many of them at this place. Le Gavroche is run by frequent Masterchef guest Michel Roux Jr, and currently holds two Michelin stars.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a fancy London hotel must possess an equally fancy dining option. So it goes at The Connaught, where Hélène Darroze heroes British ingredients to the tune of two Michelin stars.
A stylish restaurant with a distinctly modern approach to French cooking. L’Atelier exudes charm and elegance, which explains why it’s the only Michelin star restaurant in Covent Garden. Tackle the eight-course tasting menu if you’ve got the time (and funds).
5. Pied à Terre
Gorgeously gourmet, and surprisingly reasonable amongst French restaurants with Michelin stars. Pied à Terre’s lunch menu is £29.50 for a starter and main, or £37.50 for three courses, which is likely as cheap as you’ll get for this standard of cooking.
The first of two award-winning French restaurants from the brothers Galvin. Under the high ceilings of St Botolph’s Hall, the seven-course Menu Gourmand will satisfy your appetite for £85.
Beautiful food to go with a rather beautiful room. The creative mind behind this place is Eric Frechon, who might be struggling under the weight of his scarcely believable FOUR Michelin stars.
Top of Tower Hill’s French restaurants, Anne-Sophie Pic has conquered the French cooking scene despite having no formal chef training. Her London joint earned a Michelin star by exploring the “encounters that take place throughout the sensory process”.
9. Club Gascon
South-west France is the dining destination here, with seasonal ingredients forming the backbone of the menu. As French restaurants go, this one is magnifique.
10. La Trompette
Bring on the trumpets for La Trompette, Chiswick’s answer to the 8th arrondissement. Fine French cooking with the cream of British ingredients make this spot the best of both worlds.
The Galvin clan’s second Michelin starred offering is a confluence of everything fancy. Think Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, with views of Hyde Park from the 28th floor. Amongst the foodie highlights are a seven course dégustation menu from head chef Joo Won.
Other French restaurants in London
The Michelin guide may not have picked them up, but these French restaurants are amongst London’s best.
12. Clos Maggiore
It’s raked in the awards for most romantic restaurant in London, and the food ain’t bad either. Although a Michelin star eludes Clos Maggiore, the modern take on Provençal cooking is a delicious crowd-pleaser.
The name was enough to pique my interest, and with two lunchtime courses for £15, it’s intoxicatingly cheap too. It’s a charming bistro in Primrose Hill, with an intriguing dessert option called Absinthe Crème Brûlée…
On a sunny day in Hoxton Square, this place will feel positively Parisian. Highlights include the steak frites and a deliciously indulgent chocolate mousse, and a trip downstairs gets you to Happiness Forgets, one of the best cocktail bars in the city.
15. Bon Vivant
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all on the cards at Bon Vivant, which also includes such delights as bavette steak and an Earl Grey crème brûlée. Yeah, we’re drooling too.
Blanchette is more of a pas de deux, for there are two restaurants to choose from. The Soho joint heads straight down the Parisian route, whilst their Brick Lane restaurant incorporates North African influences.
A charming French restaurant on the Kings Road, Medlar has wowed critics over the years. It’s a bit of a medley, with British ingredients and French cooking married to some distinctly international influences.
18. Les Nenettes
The only one of the city’s French restaurants to be run by an all-female staff, Les Nenettes does Gallic cooking right. The breakfast menu has an unbeatable range of egg dishes, whilst the highlight of the dinner menu is a 1kg steak (for two people, I might add).
Coco Chanel, Mick Jagger, and Princess Diana have all dined here, so you know it’s going to be good. A fixture in Soho since 1927, you can’t leave without trying the dish the restaurant is named after: the snails.
Despite being in Bermondsey, this place is so determinedly French that they don’t translate the menus here. They also change said menus every day, so your chances of ending up with the same thing twice are rather slim.
A lovely laidback bistro in the heart of Farringdon, the Bleeding Heart is charmingly rustic. They boast a cute little courtyard, and a wine list of 450 bottles – you’re already on the way, aren’t you?
Hidden amongst the warehouses and walkways of Shad Thames, Le Pont de la Tour gives you stunning views of Tower Bridge. The food is equally luxurious, blending traditional methods with modern innovation.
Wood-fired Southern French cooking is what you’ll get at Sardine, launched by Alex Jackson and Pastaio owner Stevie Parle. It also pulls double duty as an art gallery, so you can overhaul your flat decor whilst sampling their onglet steak.
24. Mon Plaisir
Somewhat bemusingly, it claims to be the oldest French restaurant in London despite only being founded in the 1940s. Still, the menu is brimming with classic French dishes, so we’ll forgive this apparent fib.
25. The Orrery
You’ll come for the giant cheese trolley, but you’ll also be seduced by inventive starters and a truly magnificent steak. The Orrery is a fabulous reason to make the trip to Marylebone.
Whilst French restaurants are often known for meat and cheese, Gauthier does things differently. There are two entirely vegan menus to choose from, including a seven-course vegan tasting menu for £65.
Featured image: @bonvivantrestaurant
Also published on Medium.