LDNReview

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Maison François review image
8.5

Maison François

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The dessert trolley at Maison François is wheeled around like sugared royalty. Heads turn, noses sniff at the unmistakable scent of lemon meringue, and people gasp at the sight. On that trolley, there are gravity-defying paris-brest aux noisettes, the best gâteau à la pistache this side of Normandy, and drawers filled with iridescent macarons and a fashion show of éclairs. It is a cruising sweet treat temptress and one of the many reasons you should choose this French St. James’s restaurant for your next sophisticated soirée. 

From the number of circumflexes on the all-day brasserie-inspired menu to the warm orange glow of the art deco dining room, Maison François has being chic down to a fine art. Even eating a plate of ham—pardon, jambon noir de Bigorre—feels like a worthy occasion for cracking out your shiniest shoes and posing on the bone-white banquette seating like Robert Doisneau might just pop out of the open kitchen to take your picture. It’s a beautiful buzzing space designed for beautiful people to do beautiful things like eat fried comté covered in yet more comté. Smile, sip, stare longingly at that dessert trolley, then let the smell of garlic waft you in the direction of the best part of the menu, the hors d’oeuvres.

Aleksandra Boruch

Maison François review image

 While some of the pricy poisson du jour and heavyweight meat dishes are more satisfactory than seductive, those appetisers are remarkable medleys of cheese, charcuterie, and highly persuasive carbohydrates. It isn’t the kind of food that shouts or pleads for your attention. Mais non, bébé. Instead it flirtatiously whispers with a dose of bone marrow on your escargot flatbread and the subtle crunch of breadcrumbs in the cabbage. Even the unmissable salt show anchovy toast is polite enough to leave room for meaningful conversations and celebratory sips of Chablis. 

Maison François is undoubtedly the perfect place for special occasions. An intimate birthday party of two, a reunion with a deeply fabulous friend, or even for a business meal where the exceptional service will hush any anxiety around which bottle of wine to order. If that one bottle becomes two, head downstairs to the moody basement bar, Frank’s, to keep the Bordeaux flowing and order a cheeky second round of the comté gougères. Just be sure to save enough room for an irresistibly rich pistachio treat from that dessert trolley.

Aleksandra Boruch

Maison François review image

Food Rundown

Comté Gougères

A naughty little snack that is all the evidence we need for our argument that comté is the greatest cheese. No questions at this time, thank you. These are also served in the downstairs wine bar, Frank’s, so if you’re after a ‘light snack’—deliriously cheesy choux with extra grated cheese—order these and a glass of red.

Aleksandra Boruch

Maison François review image

Oysters

Honestly, would be rude not to. One for anyone who knows that sauce mignonette should always have a proper kick of pepper.

Anchovies, Pain Grillé A L’ail

Alert the Ortiz fans: this is one of the best anchovy toasts we’ve ever had. The garlic sauce is the kind of thing you mop up with your finger even though that nice person with the Chanel 2.55 on the table opposite is definitely judging you. Apologies, we are powerless in the face of thick fluffy bread and little fishies.

Aleksandra Boruch

Maison François review image

Onglet

No funny business here, just a quality piece of meat cooked right alongside a classic bordelaise that warms your throat on the way down. The best of the big boy meat dishes.

Aleksandra Boruch

Maison François review image

Pâtes Fraîches, Brown Crab

Plot twist: French restaurant does al dente pasta with a perfect bite. Simple, seasoned with lemon, and the brown crab is the ideal light relief from all that cheese.

Aleksandra Boruch

Maison François review image

Gâteau A La Pistache

Maison François’ dessert trolley will do more for your inner child than any self-help book ever could. The paris-brest is exquisite and ideal if you like to test the flexibility of your jaw but our sweet treat motto here is keen for green. The pistachio gâteau is a supremely nutty creation that shines like a Y2K lip gloss and comes on a little biscuit base. Plus, it has its own curled white chocolate hat. Deliriously rich, entirely fantastic.

Aleksandra Boruch

Maison François review image

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