Can’t make it to the French Open at Roland Garros? Panic not. Haute Time has the low-down on five French restaurants in London that will make you go “oh la la!”
Covent Garden isn’t just for tourists and theatre goers. It’s also – thanks to the much anticipated arrival of Keith McNally’s Balthazar last year – a place for French foodies. Located in old Covent Garden on what was the site of the former Theatre Museum, Balthazar’s interior has been hailed by Bloomberg critic Richard Vines as being “among the most beautiful in London.” But enough of the decor, “what’s the food like?” I hear you cry. The answer is seriously good from the signature onion soup to the Gruyere and herb omelet. Balthazar attracts celebs (on our last visit we spotted tennis ace Boris Becker), so be prepared to battle for a booking. But if you get one, you won’t be disappointed.
2 Bar Boulud
Daniel Boulud’s London outpost is Haute Living’s destination of choice when it comes to French haute cuisine in the capital. The kitchen doesn’t put a foot wrong with dishes like Lapin de la garrigue (provencal pulled rabbit with carrot, courgette and herbs) croquet monsieur, coq au vin and steak frites, all complimented by a masterfully assembled list of wines. Service is utterly professional and the low key yet luxe setting in the basement of the buzzy Mandarin Oriental Hotel, can’t be bettered.
3 Brasserie Zedel
Jeremy King and Chris Corbin – the dynamic duo behind the The Wolseley and The Delaunay - are also responsible for Brasserie Zedel. This grand art deco basement brasserie - previously Oliver Peyton’s Atlantic Bar & Grill - looks the part. Expect 23-carat gold leaf architraving, sparkling brass railings and marble pillars. But Brasserie Zedel isn’t a case of style over substance: Haute Time continues to be impressed by the quality of cooking with the Beef Bourguignon (beef braised in red wine with bacon and mash) a particular standout. Save room for the chocolate profiteroles - they’re worth the indulgence.
4 Coq d’Argent
Located in the heart of the city, Coq d’Argent - accessed via a private life - has shown its staying power. Once inside this rooftop restaurant, it’s not hard to see why: it’s an attractive space owing to its ciricular bar, alfresco dining areas and striking views of the London skyline. Food wise, expect some of the finest French fare in the capital including Foie gras. Portions are plentiful and beautifully presented and service is friendly and efficient. All told, this is a fabulous place in which to enjoy first class French food and wine in suitably handsome surroundings and really is too good to leave just to the suits.
5 Galvin at Windows
Everything about this Michelin starred French restaurant from Chris and Jeff Galvin – the brothers behind five London restaurants (Galvin Bistrot De Luxe in Marylebone, Galvin La Chapelle and Café à Vin in Spital Square, Galvin Demoiselle at Harrods in Knightsbridge and Galvin at Windows) elates. Once seated, order a glass of champagne and prepare to browse Head Chef Joo Won’s superb menu - think seasonally inspired modern French haute cuisine. Haute Time recommends starting with the Marinated Loch Fyne salmon, Dorset crab, orange, beetroot and horseradish cream followed by the Rack of Cornish lamb, pea purée, spring vegetables, lamb Bolognese & mint jus. Service is polished if a little slow but then in such stunning surroundings - expect to be greeted with a stunning panorama of the capital’s skyline - why would you want to rush? Bottom line: we say “oui.”