Best French Restaurants in London

By Ellie Smith

11 months ago

Bon appétit


With its formal techniques, emphasis on fresh ingredients and pride in presentation, French cuisine is arguably the world’s most influential. Some of the most respected culinary names of all time hail from our neighbouring country, most notably king of chefs Auguste Escoffier, who brought his expertise to London in the 19th century, joining the recently opened Savoy as head chef. This had a ripple effect, and soon enough French food was making its way across the capital, served in prestigious dining rooms like Le Gavroche and The Ritz. Many of these eateries remain today – but now we have more low-key French restaurants in London too: relaxed brasseries, and Parisian-style cafes. Whether you’re after Michelin-starred haute cuisine or low-key small plates and wine, London has one of the best French food scenes outside of France. Here are some of the best spots.

Best French Restaurants in London

Maison Francois

Inspired by the brasseries of Paris and Lyon, Maison Francois in St James’ offers all-day bistro-style dining amid chic settings. Opened by Francois O’Neill and former MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Matthew Ryle back in 2020, the dining room exudes elegance: Art Deco-style interiors drawing on grand European rail stations – complete with a bronze centrepiece clock hanging from the wall. Begin with a drink at the cocktail bar, Frank’s, before settling into one of the banquettes for old-school French dishes made with flair. Be sure to try the beef tartare, prepared tableside, alongside classic brasserie staples like moules marinière flatbread, ravioles du Dauphiné and sea bream with sauce bouillabaisse. To top it all off, there’s a dessert trolley dishing out an array of treats, like creme caramel and coffee and chocolate gateaux.

34 Duke Street St James’s, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6DF, maisonfrancois.com

Food spread at Socca

Socca

Two-Michelin starred chef Claude Bosi has teamed up with restaurateur Samyukta Nair for his latest venture, Socca. Opened in February this year in the former Richoux site in Mayfair, the bistro-style restaurant channels the French Riviera, with a dining room inspired by the whimsical interiors of Villa Santo Sospir – the Côte d’Azur house where socialite Francine Weisweiller would host the likes of Picasso and Yves Saint Laurent. The menu focuses on simplicity and seasonality, with hearty sharing-style dishes and wines by the glass.

41A S Audley St, London W1K 2PS, soccabistro.com

Le Gavroche

When the late Albert and Michel Roux opened Le Gavroche back in 1967, it was the only French restaurant of its kind in London. It was quickly awarded with one Michelin star – the first UK eatery to do so – and went on to receive two more (two of which it has retained since 1993). A stream of star-studded chefs have earned their stripes there over the years, from Gordon Ramsay to Marco Pierre White and Marcus Wareing, and since 1991 it has been run by Albert Roux’s son, Michel Roux Jr. Though it has modernised and evolved over the years, the principles of sophisticated French cuisine remain at the heart of the restaurant – with some dishes, like the cheese souffle, having remained on the menu since its opening.

43 Upper Brook St, London W1K 7QR, le-gavroche.co.uk

Louie Covent Garden restaurant bar

Louie

It’s worth dressing up for Louie, the glitzy restaurant in a converted Covent Garden townhouse. A joint venture by French restaurateur Laurent de Gourcuff – the name behind a string of Paris’ most stylish destinations – and Guillaume Glipa of Annabel’s, Zuma and Chiltern Firehouse, Louie is a multi-layered mille-feuille of style and sophistication, each floor offering a different look and vibe thanks to the interior artistry of Maxime Dion. In the first floor dining room rattan contrasts with rich tones of emerald and ruby while crystal glass and silver twinkle seductively under fringed lamps. Head chef Rugina Geanina’s menu is an interesting mix of classic Creole flavours with French gastronomy, served with panache. Think sharing plates of crispy calamari and lobster rolls ahead of mains of grilled Dover Sole and New York strip steak. Head upstairs after supper to the lounge bar and cosy into one of the velvety nooks while listening to a celebration of late, great musicians such as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and of course, Louis Armstrong. By Carole Annett

13-15 West St, London WC2H 9NE, louie-london.com

Dining room of Riviera restaurant, with light pink heart-shaped dining chairs and taupe and white armchairs.

Photo credit: Jack Hardy

Riviera

As one of Mayfair’s newest high-end restaurants, Riviera is a must-visit spot for outstanding French cuisine. The menu encompasses a dizzying array of sharing plates, meaning that picking starters can be mildly overwhelming – but you will be rewarded handsomely by whatever you decide. Choose the gorgeous king crab salad for a sharp citrus kick, or indulge in the tempura-battered courgette flower stuffed to the brim with truffle and cheese. The snails are also exquisite, each one almost sinking in a sea of warm garlic butter. Follow up with the astonishingly flavoursome lobster spaghetti or the black truffle slow-cooked baby chicken, which is served with a generous helping of wild mushrooms. Top off your meal with a stunning dessert and a selection from the extensive wine list. By Martha Davies

23 St James St, London, SW1A 1HA, riviera-london.co.uk

Coq D’Argent

Coq d’Argent

Perched high above the city on the sixth floor of the aptly named No.1 Poultry building, Coq d’Argent boasts beautiful views of the capital, particularly from its outdoor terrace. But that’s not the only reason to come here: the restaurant also serves impressive French fare, with a focus on traditional dishes and seasonal produce courtesy of executive chef Damien Rigollet. Think starters of escargots de bourgogne, beef tartare and caviar, ahead of a mainly meat and fish focused selection of mains – steak frites, slow-cooked lamb shank, and lobster with garlic and parsley butter. Enjoy alongside drinks from the award-winning wine list, curated by head sommelier Giuseppe Iacona.

1 Poultry, London EC2R 8EJ, coqdargent.co.uk

Best Places to Propose in London - Clos Maggiore

Clos Maggiore

Hailed by many as London’s most romantic restaurant, you couldn’t dream up a better date spot than Clos Maggiore. With high-end modern European cuisine, a conservatory featuring a ceiling of hanging flowers, a glowing fireplace and a glass roof looking up to the starry night sky, it’s no surprise the restaurant witnesses several marriage proposals each week. But it’s not all style over substance: food is also excellent, inspired by the country inns of the South of France and Tuscany and made using local and seasonal ingredients wherever possible. A typical meal could look something like: heritage tomatoes with Datterini tomato sorbet, followed by roasted monkfish and seafood fregola, with a manjari chocolate cremeux for dessert. Heaven.

33 King St, London WC2E 8JD, closmaggiore.com

Le Pont de la Tour terrace

Le Pont de la Tour

One of the capital’s longest standing riverside restaurants, La Pont de la Tour has been around for over 30 years – and its charm shows no sign of slowing. The sophisticated French eatery offers unparalleled views of Tower Bridge, best enjoyed from the large outdoor terrace. Traditional yet innovative cooking is the focus, with the menu featuring dishes like moules mariniere, roast native lobster with garlic butter, and steak frites. There’s also a set menu offering three courses for £35 – and this summer guests can enjoy special cocktails from Mirabeau.

36D Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE, lepontdelatour.co.uk