Maison François, a brasserie and wine bar in London’s St James’s, is the perfect place for an elegant dinner.
As genteel as its SW1 postcode, this new dining spot (where Green’s formerly rested) is spirited, to say the least. Enter into the terrifically tall main dining space, before snaking your way through stylishly sectioned banquettes en route to your table. There’s a hum about the place, which crescendos to a pronounced ‘mmm’ as your meal unfolds.
François O’Neill, the restaurateur behind the eclectic Maison François, has created a swish brasserie with an approachable feel. The free-flowing space, with an open kitchen to show off the cooking, is open from breakfast through dinner.
What To Order
Chef and MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Matthew Ryle heads up the kitchen at Maison François. The menu – which comprises classic brasserie dishes and is all written in French – is yours to approach as you wish. Compose you order as your mood dictates – you decide what constitutes a starter, what you want to come later, apart, together… and so on.
We visited for dinner, and started our meal with the moules flatbread – which was beyond delicious – and a classic celeriac remoulade, which was fresh and crunchy. At a neighbouring table, the oeuf en gelée with cubes of ox tongue shook at us invitingly (one to order on our next visit, perhaps). Moving into main-course territory, whilst tempted by the pork chop with mustard sauce and fries, we opted for the market fish, paired with meticulously presented pesto-infused ratatouille – the list of salads and greens is extensive, offering diners a broad spectrum of meat-free options. With much to choose from, narrowing down your options can be tricky. Word to the wise: don’t over order, plates are more filling than you might anticipate, and absolutely do leave room for dessert.
Perhaps the most toothsome component of a meal at Maison François is dessert. A visual and edible delight, the old-school dessert trolley, showcasing a sumptuous collection of éclairs, Paris-Brests, and fruit tarts, lends a real sense of occasion to the close of your meal. We eyed up the rum baba and a wedge of the tarte tatin, served with a hefty dollop of crème fraiche. Both were remarkable.
Who To Bring
The seating at Maison François feels suited to a variety of situations: from business-deal cinching lunches to date nights with your SO.
Frank’s wine bar, located in the basement, is a good drop-in spot for drinks and charcuterie. With low lighting and moody interiors – think polished-concrete flooring and black-leather bar seats – it’s the ideal setting for an intimate tête-à-tête over some great French wine.
The Dress Code
Interiors draw on Ricardo Bofill’s postmodernist masterpiece, La Fabrica so sporting something sculptural and sleek would fit in well here. However, as this is an all-day eatery, you won’t be turned you away for looking un peu informal either.