French restaurants in London

From haute cuisine institutions to neighbourhood bistros, these places will make you go 'oh la la!'

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Browse our pick of bistros, brasseries and fine-dining French restaurants with plenty of va va voom. Do you agree with the choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.

The Ledbury

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Few haute establishments have the hospitable hum of the Ledbury. Whether it’s due to the off-centre location, the Aussie input, or diners’ sheer delight in securing a table, this former pub remains top-tier for gustatory good times. British ingredients – Hampshire buffalo milk curd, smoked eel, Cumbrian lamb – line up alongside delicacies such as foie gras, Tokyo turnips, Bresse chicken and black truffle, but it’s chef Brett Graham’s clever contemporary treatment of

  1. 127 Ledbury Road, W11 2AQ
  2. Main courses (lunch) £32-£34. Set lunch...
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Medlar

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Even if you don’t live near Chelsea, you should try to visit this exceptional restaurant at least once. The decor is understated: soothing grey-green colour scheme and unobtrusive artwork. The real artistry arrives on the plates, six dishes of astounding excellence. Assemblies are complex and have lengthy names, exemplified in our two starters: crisp calf’s brain with smoked duck breast, aïoli, pink fir potatoes and tardivo (raddichio); and confit skate with razor-clam

  1. 438 King's Road, SW10 0LJ
  2. Set lunch (Mon-Fri) £26 3 courses; (Sat, Sun)...
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Brawn

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Brawn is the second offering from the team behind Terroirs (and most recently, Soif), and is nicely pitched to appeal to a hip east London crowd without alienating other diners. Staff are young and attentive, and there’s a contented buzz about the place. The decor is unfussy: two rooms with whitewashed walls and simple furniture. Likewise, the terse menu: ‘Cod’s roe £4’, for example, doesn’t do justice to the deluxe taramasalata that appears. Dishes are made to share.

  1. 49 Columbia Road, E2 7RG
  2. Main courses £12-£17. Set lunch (Sun) £28 3...
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Green Man & French Horn

  • Rated as: 5/5

The wine list at this Loire specialist is a real piece of work. An evident passion and on-the-ground knowledge underpin an esoteric haul of treasures from along the long and diverse river – we’d be surprised if a better selection exists even in France. Not that the wine bar takes itself too seriously, featuring quirky illustrations such as ‘great beards of the Loire’. With its varied styles and wealth of small (often natural) producers, the region is a good match for the

  1. 54 St Martin's Lane, WC2N 4EA
  2. Main courses £10-£26. Set meal (noon-7pm)...
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Le Cercle

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

A western partner of the Club and Comptoir Gascons in Smithfield, Le Cercle eschews its confrères’ bustle for an atmosphere more suited to a spot just off Sloane Square – smart, multinational, a little brittle and very well heeled. Service is solicitous and the decor mellow, in a high-ceilinged basement with a long bar, clean lines, soft colours and semi-oriental details in wall motifs and flower arrangements. On a mezzanine off the deep staircase is a romantically chic and

  1. 1 Wilbraham Place, SW1X 9AE
  2. Main courses £12-£17. Set lunch £19.50 2...
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Lawn Bistro

  • Rated as: 5/5

NB in February 2014 chef Ollie Couillaud left; who will replace him is not yet clear. The review below refers to 2013 only. Time Out Editors     More refined than you’d infer from its name alone, the Lawn Bistro is a classic French dining room that has added a strong independent voice to the chain restaurants and cafés of Wimbledon. Open since 2011, it offers accomplished French cuisine via two- or three-course prix fixe menus and a drinks list notable for French ciders

  1. 67 High Street, SW19 5EE
  2. Set lunch (Mon-Sat) £14.95, £19.50 2 courses,...
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Club Gascon

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

The presence of the three-strong Gascon group (as well as Comptoir Gascon, there’s wine bar Cellar Gascon) ensures that a small area of east-central London has a flavour of south-west France. This is the most expensive of the trio, a Michelin-starred sanctuary of haute cuisine. Heavy wooden screens shut out the world; inside is a serene and urbane room of greys and golds with marble panels. Head chef Pascal Aussignac is from Toulouse, and the hallmarks of the area’s cuisine

  1. 57 West Smithfield, EC1A 9DS
  2. Dishes £12-£26. Set lunch £25 2 courses incl...
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Hélène Darroze at the Connaught

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Genial staff take obvious pleasure in working this historic dining room, with its beautiful wood panelling and floral plasterwork ceiling. India Mahdavi’s feminine interior of velvety golds complements the original features, while Damien Hirst’s artwork keeps it grounded in the present. Waistcoats, silver jugs and Baccarat crystal denote formality, so first-timers may be surprised by the rusticity of the food on display: a leg of ham for carving, butter pats as big as cheese

  1. The Connaught, Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
  2. Set lunch/brunch £35 3 courses (£42 incl 2...
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Balthazar

Private dining room now open
  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4

Rarely has a new London restaurant been so anticipated – or so hyped. Stories about Keith McNally’s London branch of his New York restaurant have been trumpeted by glossy magazines and newspaper supplements since the rumour began, more than three years ago. Breathless speculation anticipated this Manhattan interpretation of a French brasserie becoming the hottest destination for London dining of 2011... then 2012... and now, in 2013, it’s actually opened. Balthazar

  1. 4-6 Russell Street, WC2E 7BN
  2. Main courses £13-£37
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Galvin Bistrot de Luxe

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice
  • Offer

The first of the Galvin brothers’ restaurant empire, this polished, much-loved Marylebone bistro is classically French (veloutés, soufflés, purées) with the occasional nod to Italy (risottos, lasagnes, panna cottas). The dining room is an inviting place, with its dark chocolate wood panelling, globe lighting and big bunches of scarlet gladioli. Lunch, ordered from the à la carte and £19.50 prix-fixe menus, was high on comfort and mostly tip-top. A smooth, nicely fatty pork

  1. 66 Baker Street, W1U 7DJ
  2. Main courses £16-£21.50. Set lunch £19.50 3...
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Users say

5 comments
Gizmo
Gizmo

How come Le Cassoulet still features more than 8 months after closing.

Chris
Chris

What, no Arbutus, Les Deux Salons, Wild Honey?

sofia
sofia

Bellevue Rendezvous in Wandsworth Common - super tasty, very reasonable (mains around 15 quid). My favourite!

Dominique Hess
Dominique Hess

Finding a sub-par overpriced French restaurant in London is about as easy as finding a greasy kebab stand. I'm dissapointed that the selection of restaurants you have chosen to highlight in this article all have a tremendous air of snobbery to them, which honestly doesn't help the negative connotation this cuisine already has with English people. Being a food blogger myself (www.yuppielunch.tumblr.com) and having lived on every continent and tried many different types of cuisines, I find that a good meal can come in every shape or form and from anywhere. Next time you want to have a great authentic french meal. I recommend. Chez Manny (http://www.chezmanny.com/). It is one of the only french restaurants in London which brings me back to when I lived in France for over 6 years.