London is famous for many things: it’s a home of business, culture, fashion, economy and of course, gastronomy.
The amount of restaurants that open in the city every year is practically impossible to keep track of and those that are of high quality aren’t in short supply. London has the most Michelin-starred restaurants throughout the entire UK and there are lots that you can try that won’t break the bank.
However, the real appeal of the London restaurant scene is that there is such a huge range of cuisine and culture available. For those who like to try different things, this city is the perfect place for you to treat your taste buds to food from all around the world.
Whether you prefer authentic Indian food, Thai, Mexican street food or even a New York-style bagel, London has you pretty much covered.
One thing you can be certain of though, is French cuisine – the city is literally brimming over with brasseries and bistros that boast classic French cooking interspersed with modern British flair.
Why is this? Many chefs originally train in the classic art of French cooking, as it is the culture of food that is best known for cooking with simple, basic ingredients and finding a way to make them sing. Think of one of France’s best-known rustic dishes of ratatouille – essentially this is just a stew made with winter vegetables, but when it’s prepared properly there are few things that are more heartwarming delicious. And this is something the French and the students of French cooking know very well.
But where should you begin your journey into the best French fine dining and brasserie restaurants? Right here, as we’ve picked just a few to whet your whistle… bon appetite!
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
Chef Ducasse is one of the most famous people working in his trade, as he was the first ever to collect six Michelin stars. Now, he boasts a total of 21 stars, three of which are given to his restaurant at The Dorchester.
In this kitchen, he and his executive chef Jocelyn Herland take ingredients from Britain and France to create food that is seasonal and offers classic French cooking at its very best.
The menu is small and the food sparing but full of flavour, this is where you come to relish your food, not to leave with your top button bursting.
Take a trip back to 1920s Paris, where sadly you won’t find Ernest Hemingway quaffing wine and smoking Gauloises, but you will encounter Brasserie Zedel in Piccadilly Circus.
This is where you come to enjoy classic dishes at wallet-friendly prices, as you can enjoy a main course here.
True to French form, the restaurant has an excellent prix fixe, two-course menu that is surrounded with authentic art deco splendour. It will transport you in minutes from one beautiful city to another – who said that being in London meant you couldn’t also take a trip to Paris?
You’ll find the staff here are ready to advise you on which wines you should have, but you can never go wrong when you choose a Cabernet Sauvignon with your steak.
For many, going out for a meal at a French restaurant is a sign of a romantic night out, and if this is what you’re looking for then you should look no further than Clos Maggiore.
This restaurant is located down a side street in Covent Garden, one of the most beautiful spots you can find in the city. It’s a well-known area for couples and special occasions, but the restaurant itself is just the right amount of hidden away for you to feel like you have stumbled on a gem.
Eating al fresco is encouraged in all seasons with this restaurant, as it has a beautiful courtyard that even features a roaring fire in winter. If this wasn’t romantic enough for you, then perhaps it will help to know that it has previously won the award for being London’s Most Romantic Restaurant.
But what of the food? Here you can enjoy lots of shellfish and in particular crab, and for dessert enjoy classics like Millefeuille and of course, a cheese plate with homemade quince.
Like Alain Ducasse’s restaurant, Le Gavroche is another famous Michelin-starred restaurant, with a head chef who is celebrated worldwide.
Michel Roux Junior has been head chef of this Mayfair restaurant after taking over from his father and uncle, who opened its doors in 1967. Set in a particularly affluent part of London, it’s little wonder that there is a waiting list to get a table in this restaurant.
We would advise that you book ahead if you want to eat here but know that it’s certainly worth the wait. Michel and his staff take serious pride in their creations, which turn ingredients from food into art.
The menu changes frequently, due to fresh produce and the changing seasons, so something different may be on offer on any given day. Sample menus include modernized French classics, such as marinated salmon with lemon and vodka jelly. This is where the foodies and those with an open mind go to adventure, and how delicious it is once you’re there.
Of course, if you’re going for dinner here, you’re going to want to stay in a London city hotel, somewhere that’s near to the restaurant. The Shaftesbury Collection’s Premier London Notting Hill hotel is just 22 minutes from Le Gavroche via the Tube.
Simply take the Central line from Marble Arch station and you’re there – or, if you leave late, there are plenty of taxis that will take you to the hotel in just 20 minutes. Even better, you’ll drive past Kensington Palace and its gardens on the way.
L’Atelier Joel Robuchon
If you would like to eat Michelin-star food but want to enjoy your meal in a more relaxed and less formal setting than the likes of Alain Ducasse or Le Gavroche, then we highly recommend L’Atelier Joel Robuchon.
Holding two stars of its own, this venue has an open kitchen on the downstairs level and a more intimate setting upstairs – so you really have your options open.
The bottom floor is perfect for those who are enjoying their dinner alone, such as business travelers, as chefs interact over the counter while you’re eating. Meanwhile, the top floor is great for couples who still want to feel relaxed but are looking for more privacy.
As far as the food itself, you’ll find mostly modern and forward-thinking cuisine, such as tempura, a large and intricate vegetarian menu and chocolate desserts made with Oreos.
Based in Chiswick, this is a Michelin star spot that is perfect either for a quick lunch or a long dinner with friends.
The chefs in the kitchen are famous for their fusion of British and French cooking techniques that span game and seafood, and the sommelier is incredibly knowledgeable.
It’s in a modern spot that you’ll notice is very busy during the day with affluent Londoners running their errands and going out for coffee with their friends. A true city-dweller hotspot, this is somewhere you want to go if you want to see how people live in the Big Smoke.
As it’s a high-quality restaurant that isn’t in the city centre, you’ll also find that it’s great for celebrity spotting.