The BMW Squaremeal Restaurant of the Year rewards the venue that is currently offering London’s most outstanding package – one that includes top-drawer food, value, great service and that all-important feel-good factor. Scroll on to discover the winner and our shortlist.
Frenchie head chef Gregory Marchand with general manager David Durban
Having digested the year that was 2016, our new Restaurant of the Year is Covent Garden’s Frenchie. With great popular support and the most impressive all-round package, chef Gregory Marchand’s debut London restaurant has a cracking backstory too. Born in Nantes, Marchand grew up in an orphanage and became a chef in Paris, before moving to London and working at the Savoy Grill, the Mandarin Oriental hotel and Fifteen – where Jamie Oliver nicknamed him ‘Frenchie’. After returning to Paris, Marchand became a leading light in the new-wave ‘bistronomie’ movement and opened the original Frenchie to huge acclaim.
Having spent much of his twenties in London, Marchand clearly has an instinctive feel for what Londoners want in a new restaurant: modern, internationally flavoured cooking, light surrounds, snappy service and an upbeat atmosphere.
The vibe at Frenchie is chic with hipster overtones, with bar seats for walk-ins and deceptively simple menu descriptions, which translate into effortlessly artful dishes (most designed for sharing). Service is polished, but laid-back, and Frenchie is terrific value too: the three-course lunch menu is £29, the evening carte isn’t ruinously priced and there’s a £55 tasting menu. The globally inspired wine list is also excellent in every department. “All in all, it’s the entente cordiale made edible,” says Squaremeal editor Ben McCormack. “It’s a package that ticks every box.”
Following the presentation of his award, Marchand said: “I wanted to create a place where people could feel really at home and eat good food that is well-priced, in a laid-back atmosphere. Most importantly, I wanted to create a place where people would want to come and then come back. I think we’ve achieved that.” We wholeheartedly agree and offer our congratulations to Gregory Marchand and all of the team at Frenchie.
If you haven’t been yet, find out more about Frenchie and book a table right here.
We also urge you to visit every one of the restaurants on the rest of the shortlist. In fact, there’s one below for every remaining month of 2017 – you’re welcome:
Anglo, Farringdon (above)
Our first runner-up, the critical darling of 2016 encapsulates everything worth championing about London’s booming restaurant scene: two young chefs with CVs that include the likes of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, rustling up a sensational seven-course tasting menu for just £45
Duck & Waffle, City
If we were judging simply on cool credentials, then Dan Doherty’s sky-high Heron Tower restaurant would probably win hands down
Elystan Street, Chelsea
The classy new venture from chef/restaurateur Phil Howard, following his departure from The Square in Mayfair
Simon Rogan’s Claridge’s restaurant offers push-the-boat-out luxury combined with cutting-edge cuisine
This South Indian street-food sensation (our Best New Restaurant in Spring 2016) proves that small and casual can work just as well as big and flashy
The Ledbury, Notting Hill
This former winner still gets the vote for Brett Graham’s unfailing commitment to forward-thinking, contemporary cuisine and personable service
James Lowe’s restaurant debut impresses with a trendy vibe, minimalist surrounds and zesty seasonal cooking
Pollen Street Social, Mayfair
Jason Atherton is undoubtedly the foremost British chef of the decade, his flagship still boasting an unshakeable blend of creative food, energetic sociable vibes and pitch-perfect service
Sexy Fish, Mayfair
This 2015 hotshot has extended its reputation as a glitzy destination which gets everybody talking
Much of Squaremeal’s success as a barometer of eating out in London is down to you, the readers. We accumulate a huge amount of your feedback that helps us to pinpoint restaurants that are making significant new waves or establishing themselves as must-visit destinations. The BMW Squaremeal Restaurant of the Year rewards the venue that is currently offering London’s most outstanding package – one that includes top-drawer food, value, great service and that all-important feel-good factor. BMW epitomises these values with its innate sense of style, innovation, luxury and reliability and Frenchie demonstrates that same all-round excellence.
Frenchie photography courtesy of Miles Willis. This article was published 3 March 2017.