If you're in search of traditional cuisine or fine-dining with a bit off ooh la la, this selection of French restaurants should do the trick. Some of these joints are Michelin-starred restaurants while others are down-to-earth cafés. What they all have in common though, is a menu of showstopping French food.
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Bar Boulud’s a branch of the original in New York, and it is a seamless dining experience, with faultless service and exquisite French food in a smart Knightsbridge hotel – and all at prices that seem like a bargain for this standard of restaurant in this kind of mega-rich neighbourhood. Charcuterie takes centre stage with an array of terrines, pâtés, hams and sausages. Mains run from classic croque-monsieur to coq au vin and steak frites. To finish, there are cheeses divided by type in colourful language (‘stinky’, ‘old and hard’) and classic puddings. So how does Bar Boulud make any money? The wine list is the answer – go easy on the delightful but pricey bottles if you want to keep the bill below three figures for two.Read more
Known as much for hosting some of east London’s finest alternative performance acts as for its cooking, this stylish spot is a scenester kind of a place – but no worse for it. True, there might be as many people posing as there are looking at their plates, but the French-leaning food is reliably decent, while the staff are friendly and professional. Come sunny weekends, when you’ll find pancakes with maple syrup and bacon on the menu as well as the ubiquitous full English or eggs Benedict, you can pretend you’ve warped time and space by being in both trendy Brooklyn and trendy London at the same time.Read more
Ask anyone to list 20 things they’d expect to see in a classic French bistro and chances are you’ll find at least 15 of them at this dinky Gallic charmer, including lettered mirrors, tobacco-coloured walls and a tubby Michelin figurine behind the bar. The restaurant has been full from day one because of its sensible prices, artful grub, elbow-to-elbow bonhomie and peerlessly efficient staff. The chalkboard menu majors in boldly flavoured French hits such as fish soup, steak tartare and boeuf bourguignon, plus plenty of wines by the carafe – including special selections from Les Cave d’Alex.Read more
Though recognised internationally as serving some of the best food (and wine) in the world, The Ledbury retains the feeling of being a neighbourhood restaurant. Yes, it is luxuriously kitted out and very expensive. But it still has the laid-back atmosphere of the bistro round the corner where they greet you by name. A key word for people who might only eat here once is consistency. We have yet to hear anyone say, ‘I must have been there on an off-night.’ The cooking of Australian-born Brett Graham aims at turning unsurpassable raw ingredients into dishes that taste unforgettably good; and flawless execution by a well-drilled brigade ensures that it happens, apparently, every single time. Plan several months in advance to bag a table in a prime dining slot, even for lunch. The wine list is world-class and not scarily expensive considering the greatness of the restaurant. Our number one dining spot.Read more
Rather than create a carbon copy of his ever-popular Pollen Street Social, Jason Atherton has tweaked the formula a little for the restaurant’s younger sibling. Located just across the narrow lane from the original, Little Social is a luxe homage to Paris, with a slight Manhattan accent. Dishes put seasonal ingredients to good use with bold flavours and impressive execution.Read more
Even if you don’t live near Chelsea, you should try to visit this exceptional restaurant at least once. The decor is understated: a soothing grey-green colour scheme and unobtrusive artwork. The real artistry arrives on the plates, which are astoundingly good. Though dish descriptions run long, you’d be hard pressed to find a flavour out of place in the impressively executed French-skewed dishes. Both savouries and sweets are handled with confidence, and they’ll even accommodate off-piste requests. The wine list is of a calibre to match the food and includes a high-quality selection of wines under £30.Read more
A former car garage (Barnes Motors) in a residential part of Highbury has been converted – though not too much, as thanks to the workshop doors and signage, all slightly minimal with a discreet touch of rural France. (One of the owners is French). Once you settle in to one of their comfy chairs, you can focus your attention on the blackboard menu of Italian and French-accented dishes with seasonal British ingredients at their core. The wine list is as much of a draw as the food: from the hundred-bin cellar staff pick a dozen or so wines for the day’s list, many sold by the glass.Read more
Even the townsfolk of E11 would be the first to admit it: Wanstead High Street seemed an unlikely place for an esteemed chef to make his comeback. But back in 2012, that’s just what Max Renzland did (he previously ran a string of acclaimed bistros in the ’90s, including Chez Max in Richmond, Le Petit Max in Hampton Wick and Michelin-starred Monsieur Max in Hampton Hill). Provender has since settled into its groove, and Wansteaders have got used to having rich Gallic fare, terrific wines and a steady stream of foodie tourists right on their doorstep.Read more
We feel totally confident in recommending this wine bar to food lovers looking for somewhere central. When it opened in 2008, the small tasting plates of Frenchish food seemed almost revolutionary because they were more than just an afterthought to the extensive wine list. The menu is a frequently changing list that takes in charcuterie (pistachio and pork terrine is first-class), tapas-style bar snacks (creamy cheese dip, Marcona almonds) and plats du jour (grilled hake, lamb chops). And little has changed, except that Terroirs has expanded a bit and is much imitated.Read more
Mill Lane Bistro
Venue says: £19.50 for two courses or £24.50 for three courses from our a la carte menu, Tue to Thu. We deliver freshly cooked food via Deliveroo!
It sounds like there's a fair bit of pedigree at this West Hampstead spot - the chap behind it has apparently managed restaurants as renowned as Tom Aikens, La Tour d'Argent and Scott's. He's French, and so is his food. Expect, then, dishes ranging from rilettes of pork and duck with homemade foie gras, celeriac remoulade, pickled quince and an apple emulsion to moules marinieres, chicken suprême, a classic coq au vin and a bouillabaisse of cod, trout, saffron, mussels and langoustine. There's a suitably impressive cheese board, too - with Fourme d'Ambert, Epoisses, Saint Maure and Tomme de Savoie. Lighter options include sandwiches, salads, charcuterie boards and savoury crêpes.