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French



At 10Best, we're always on the lookout for London's best restaurants, and while we appreciate places that have a broad culinary range, we can't help but adore restaurants that specialize in a given cuisine. When we're in the mood for French food in London, we head to Criterion Brasserie - a reader favorite - or we count on Bibendum & Bibendum Oyster Bar's solid track record and consistently great dishes. You'll find these places - and any of the restaurants on our list - to be fantastic options for French cuisine, and if you're looking to concentrate your efforts, start with the vibrant Mayfair area.


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Criterion Brasserie


Criterion serves unpretentious French-British cuisine in a setting of unrivaled Byzantine opulence. Golden ceiling mosaics, Venetian glass lamps, and gilt-trimmed furnishings establish a luxurious backdrop for classic dishes like roast suckling pig with apple sauce and jus à  la marjoram, or fillet of beef Rossini. Dessert tarts are delicate, and toffee pudding with caramel ice cream offers a rich ending as well. TUBE: Piccadilly Circus




A modern setting and fabulous lineup of New French fare help make this West End brasserie a favorite of diners planning to catch a show later in the evening. The subtly lit dining room is conducive to intimate conversations, and mirrors open up the space while adding a contemporary touch. On the food front, regulars laud the menu for such delicious selections as osso bucco, steak béarnaise, and shoulder of lamb. Excellent wine list. TUBE: Leicester Square


Racine


This debonair restaurant serves dishes that are classically French. This of course means that some of the menu items are not for wimps: brains and gizzards are there a-plenty, and most of the other internal organs feature shamelessly in concoctions that, once you forget their ingredient's provenance, can verge on beautiful. Among the numerous delights are the feuilletés, but don't strike out on main courses; save for dessert such as an exquisitely simple poire belle-héléne. This is a place to come to for a treat. TUBE: South Kensington


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Bibendum & Bibendum Oyster Bar


London restaurant legend Terence Conran started out with this quirky, elegant restaurant, which doesn't scrimp on a single detail. Sit within a Grade I listed building, where a bold blue color scheme and large, colorful stained-glass window dominate the white-clothed tables and intimate and somewhat formal dining room. Beautifully prepared dishes include squid ink risotto with grilled squid and gremolata, deep-fried haddock and chips, and grilled calf's kidneys. The wine list is so large it's arranged in a three-ring binder. Diners looking for more laid-back environs can check out the downstairs oyster bar, which offers fresh seafood and a friendly atmosphere. 3-course prix fixe lunch £29.50. TUBE: South Kensington


Elena's L'Etoile


This landmark eatery derives part of its fame from the reputation of its owner, Elena Savoni. Said to be the city's best maitresse d', Savoni worked in London restaurants for decades before opening her own in this charming, revamped building. Photos of Dylan Thomas and other famous patrons are featured in the fun dining room, which is also decked out in red velvet and lace. Upscale dishes include coquille St. Jacques, roast monkfish with truffle oil mash, and confit lamb on a bed of mashed potatoes. The cognac trolley adds an old-fashioned touch. TUBE: Goodge Street


La Trouvaille


Folks regularly rush to this self-proclaimed "Frenchy," known in culinary circles as a true "find," thanks to authentic atmosphere, friendly service, and outstanding cuisine. The main dining room, whose nectarine-hued walls feature framed pictures and wood display cases, offers a romantic setting. Sidewalk seating is also available for diners in the mood for a more Parisian experience. Menu highlights include mackerel with purple mustard sauce, calf's liver with verjus and button onions, and pan-fried filet of zander with angostura and rhubarb compote. Two and three-course prix fixe dinners are available. 2-courses lunch prix fixe £17.50, 3-course £21.50; 2-course dinner prix fixe £29.50, 3-course £35.TUBE: Oxford Circus


Orrery


This pleasant French eatery is housed in a building that once served as horse stables. The long, narrow space is both elegant and intimate, featuring subtly decorated walls and large windows that afford terrific views of the St. Marylebone Church gardens, and the terrace is delightful. The menu gets high marks for creativity, beckoning with temptations like: roast chicken with hot-smoked pomme purée, baby leeks and jus gras; red mullet with bitter lemon purée and saffron emulsion; and Royal Donnach lamb with aubergine purée and olive jus. Prix fixe lunch menu from £24.50; prix fixe dinner menu from £43. TUBE: Regent's Park


River Restaurant


Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, the esteemed River Restaurant specializes in modern French fare prepared using only the freshest locally-grown ingredients. The sophisticated space features a private dining room overlooking the Thames, and the main dining room sports the art deco look that is so distinctly Savoy. Head Chef Ryan Murphy has received high marks for the creative cookery he infuses in dishes such as baked ratatouille with yellow pepper coulis and roasted butternut squash risotto with buerre noisette.


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Leicester Square


Le Garrick is a little bit of France in the heart of the theatre district and Covent Garden. It's tiny tables and cosy ambiance means it's a perfect place to warm you up in winter, or chill out outside in summer. Perhaps because of the French influence of the place, it's very romantic, but also great for catching up with friends. The menus are classic French, with delicious Soupe a'lOignon (French onion soup) steak and pommes frites all cooked to perfection. The excellent wine list means you can pop in for a simple aperitif and a salad or nibbles if you want, and then roll on through the evening with a good bottle of red and a hearty cassoulet. After 25 years, it's just been taken over, by a couple who met in the restaurant. He's French and kept coming back to Le Garrick when he was over in London, and she's been working in the restaurant for the last 10 years and is now the restaurant manager. According to their newly vamped website, the chef, Rocco has just been sent to the owner's mother in South West France to enhance his French repertoire even more, so long may the romance and the delicious cooking continue.


Le Gavroche


This wood-wrapped dining room rests a flight of stairs down from street level, a setting which lends it a dark, quiet feel. The restaurant is known for classic French cooking, impeccable service, and London's finest selection of cheeses and wines. The traditional menu is as rich as they come: think creamy soufflé Suissesse, hot foie gras with crispy duck pancake, or roast rib of French veal with morel mushroom sauce and a chartreuse de legume with mash mousseline. TUBE: Marble Arch


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