Maison Francois

French·
££££
·
Gold Award
·

SquareMeal Review of Maison Francois

Gold Award

The brainchild of restaurateur Francois O’Neill and former MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Matthew Ryle, Maison Francois is an upmarket French restaurant in St James’s which pays homage to the grand brasseries of Paris.

The dining room is a large and imposing space, featuring impossibly high ceilings and an oversized bronze clock hanging from the wall above the pass. However, clever design hacks, including curved banquettes and tables separated by wood panelling and latticed glass, help the room to retain an air of intimacy and stop it from feeling soulless.

The menu of simple yet meticulously crafted brasserie classics is designed for sharing and is written almost entirely in French, so you will need to know your poulet from your poisson. Maison Francois is also the kind of place where you’ll see a waiter zipping past with something delicious and immediately want to add it to your order, a request which the well-drilled staff will be happy to accommodate.

Everything here is well seasoned and often bathed in oil or butter, meaning this is not the place for calorie conscious dining, but rather a restaurant in which to throw caution to the wind and your diet out the window: a slab of pate en croute with a crumbly crust conceals a thick layer of jelly and comes with sharp cornichons that arrive in their own wooden pot, fresh baked gougeres explode in the mouth with comte cheese and a twist on moules mariniere sees it served atop pillowy flatbread which adds an extra layer of indulgence to the famously rich dish.

Maison Francois’ trump card though is its pudding trolley, which is essentially a Parisian patisserie condensed into a multi-drawer chest, filled with layer upon layer of delcatable eclairs, florentines, macarons, Paris-Brest and more. It’s the simplest of ideas but one which lifts the experience of dining here into the realm of pure elation.

If you are not quite ready to leave, head downstairs to the alluring basement bar Frank’s, home to a low-key glamorous design and more than 250 wines, as well as the novel option to pair wines with bar snacks from the same region.

With its sleek service, glowing ambience and skilfully executed dishes, Maison Francois manages to achieve that rarest of feats - a dining room which emits pure joy from the moment you walk through the door.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cuisines
French
Ambience
Glamorous, Luxury, Romantic, Traditional
Food Occasions
All day dining, Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Vegetarian options
People
Birthdays, Celebrations, Child friendly, Dates, Romantic, Special occasions

About Maison Francois

In an enviable St James’s spot formerly occupied by Green’s restaurant and bar, Maison Francois draws inspiration from the grand brasseries of Paris, Lyon and Alsace with MasterChef: The Professionals 2018 finalist Matthew Ryle taking up the helm in the kitchen.

The name behind the new venture is Francois O’Neill, whose pedigree in the restaurant industry should stand him in good stead. O’Neill’s father Hugh was co-founder of Brasserie St Quentin in Knightsbridge which later became Brompton Bar & Grill when Francois took over in 2008.

Chef Matthew Ryle also has an impressive heritage, having trained at The Dorchester before becoming head chef at Mayfair fashion hangout Isabel at the tender age of 22.

Maison Francois serves a menu of French brasserie classics such as Reblochon gougères, oeufs mimosa and ravioli dauphine alongside a selection of fresh seafood, hearty terrines, patés and homemade charcuterie to keep patrons happy from lunch through to dinner. A wood-fired grill turns out cuts of meat and whole fish, while vegetarians are well catered for with the likes of pea fricassee with broad beans, gem lettuce, Riesling and tarragon.  

For something sweet diners can look forward to the arrival of a traditional pudding trolley serving all the adored French classics: praline Paris-Brest, gateau Marjolaine and a selection of seasonal fruit tarts. The restaurant also houses an in-house bakery serving breads and patisserie, available all day but perfect for breakfast.

The decor is equally traditional, with art-deco chandeliers suspended from the 20ft-high ceilings, mirrored arches and off-white drapery.

Downstairs, Frank’s wine bar offers up rustic sharing plates of cold meats and terrines with carefully matched wines and sherries. Both restaurant and bar are watched over by the eager eye of Ed Wyand, former maître d’ at Scott’s and owner of Verden wine bar, who heads up the front of house team.

According to O’Neill: “Maison François will be everything a brasserie should be – welcoming, fun and hospitable, with classic dishes made with the best seasonal produce we can get our hands on – while also ripping up the rulebook when it comes to service.

“We’ll show great respect for the legendary restaurants we admire, while marrying this heritage with our love for the dining culture of cities across France. Brasserie St Quentin is a hard act to follow, but I’m looking forward to putting my own stamp on the brasserie tradition.”

Location for Maison Francois

34 Duke Street, St. James's, London, SW1Y 6DF

020 3988 5777

Website

Opening Times

All day
Mon Closed
Tue 08:00-22:00
Wed 08:00-22:00
Thu 08:00-22:00
Fri 08:00-22:00
Sat 08:00-22:00
Sun Closed

Reviews of Maison Francois

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1 Review 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Alex G

Sweet dreams are made of this
15 October 2020  

Does London need yet another French-style all-day brasserie? If it’s as good as Maison Francois, then the answer is almost certainly yes. For any restaurateur with ambition, surely the surreal year of 2020, when expectations are set low, must be the optimal time to open a new venue. The team behind Maison Francois have not gone about things by halves, taking the site that was formerly Green’s and cladding it out with an abundance of art deco. We loved the high (concrete) ceiling, pillars and massive clock behind the serving area. The story here is one of classy opulence. Other diners appeared to agree and with pandemic concerns seemingly jettisoned, Maison Francois was almost three-quarters full when my comrade and I visited on a recent weekday lunchtime. Beyond marvelling at the design, the attraction was surely the food and service. Maison Francois has assembled a team comprising luminaries from venues such as Scott’s and Isabel.

In terms of what you eat, it’s classic French, delivered with panache. Put another way, there’s oodles of butter and oil in every dish, but in a very good way. The venue puts on a show in both taste and aesthetics. Diners are encouraged to share hors d’oeuvres – three between two we were advised (a nice formula: more money spent, and more Instagram opportunities). Our trio comprised a wonderfully hearty and surely artery-clogging paté with dainty cornichons alongside; some glorious anchovies floating in a bed of oil, ricotta and thyme; and, a celeriac remoulade, or very posh vegetable mayonnaise, served with sourdough. Next came a lovely piece of monkfish, the day’s special, which ticked all the right boxes. The best, however, was saved until last. The coup de grace at Maison Francois is the sweet trolley. Wheeled to our table, with cakes on top and multiple drawers below offering everything from Florentines to macaroons, it is hard to be anything other than…er… a kid in a sweet shop. I am a sucker for tarte tatin, and Maison Francois did not disappoint, their iteration being moist and balanced. Said tarte was paired with a fascinating Pinot Gris from Auvergne, which worked well with the monkfish too. The wine list could hardly be described as user-friendly but contains many hidden gems within. Overall, there is little not too like, with service friendly and pricing reasonable in context. I’ll be back – for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  

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