A “Frenchie” out to conquer London
Grégoire Marchand was bitten by the cooking bug when he was just 15, living in an orphanage in Nantes. Driven by his taste for risk, he later jetted between London, New York, Spain and Hong Kong. His time spent at “Fifteen”, Jamie Oliver's famous address, earned him the nickname “the Frenchie”. In 2004, he opened a restaurant in Paris of the same name, followed quickly by a wine bar and a canteen where his pulled pork sandwich was an instant hit. In 2016, he finally travelled back to the UK and opened another spot in Covent Garden, near the Royal Opera House. In a neo-brasserie style that is chic and welcoming, complete with counter seats, an open kitchen and zinc tables, the food takes its inspiration from Parisian bistronomy to which a light British touch is added. With a constantly evolving seasonal menu and generous portions, his hits include bacon scones, roasted carrots with Vadouvan oil and foie gras with smoked eel, beetroots and horseradish, not to mention the bread and butter pudding. Delicious! Just how good can Greg get?
Frenchie Covent Garden
16 Henrietta Street
London WC2E 8QH
+44 (0) 207 836 4422
Tasting menu: from 55 GBP
Papilles, the Bobo gathering spot
Jonathan Dupont set up his wine and "frapas" bar (short for "French tapas") inside the old Eagle House School building in Shoreditch East, a neighbourhood in full transformation. The start-ups on and around Old Street quickly adopted his "coffice" concept ("my office at the café"). They now thank him for it.
You can work on long tables (complete with plugs!) while savouring excellent French grape varieties from small, organic winemakers – by the glass or carafe. Discover the owner's personal favourites: a 2014 Saumur Blanc Cuvée “La Pierre Frite”, a Réserve Joséphine from 2015, a Luberon rosé, and a Château Rahoul 2010 Graves wine, alongside other great wines produced by the French around the world.
If hunger strikes, cheese and meat platters combine homemade baguettes, camembert, maroilles and aged Comte cheeses, Auvergne ham, cured meats, foie gras, mini crêpes, pickles and olives. As for the mini-raclette, it is a house classic. Great options all around!
163 City Road
London EC1V 1NR
+44 (0) 754 022 3019
Frapas: from 5 GBP
Pique-Nique, the place to be
If the mere mention of mashed potatoes with "Bresse Chicken" (a Protected Designation of Origin or AOC in French) makes your mouth water, you must discover the "Made in France" menu at Pique-Nique. Thanks to the owner of the already famous Casse-Croûte bistro, a stronghold of French gastronomy just a two-minute walk away on the other side of the park, you will enjoy this new rotisserie of the Bermondsey neighbourhood.
If Pique-Nique is as authentic as Casse-Croûte (with just 40 seats), it is because its founder Hervé Durochat and his entire team went to work to renovate this small Edwardian-style pavilion, reminiscing of a cricket club. You can rely on the unbeatably simple ham and butter sandwich or the croque monsieur served with green salad. Regarding the wine, opt for the whites recommended by the house sommelier, young Alex Bonnefoy. To finish on a sweet note, indulge in a moelleux au chocolat, the chocolate fondant, a classic French dessert.
32 Tanner Street
London SE1 3LD
Menu: from 41 GBP
+44 (0) 207 403 9549
Éclairs, choux and chouquettes from Maître Choux
Greatness and conviviality describe charismatic chef Joakim Prat's brand new boutique in Soho. An inveterate creator, Joakim will surprise you with his Italian lemon meringue and bergamot éclairs, the milk chocolate and hazelnuts or Spanish raspberries ones, among many other ephemeral specialties. His creations are all based on a fresh choux dough with a great butter taste and a textured and striated surface, a real treat! Also enjoy the succulent hot chocolate, taking from his Basque grandmother's recipe.
Formerly Pastry Chef at Can Fabes in Barcelona (three Michelin stars), then at Joël Robuchon's L'Atelier in London (two Michelin stars), Joakim overflows with creativity and his savoir-faire knows no boundaries. "For me, any idea is inspiring: street art, nature, fashion or the internet.” It will be difficult not to succumb to temptation!
60 Dean Street
London W1D 6AW
+44 (0) 207 0734 3132
Contemporary energy at the Henrietta Hotel
The young French entrepreneurs that founded the Experimental Group have continued their creations in Paris, London, Ibiza and New York since 2007, including bars, beach clubs, hotels and restaurants. Together with Dorothée Meilichzon – the group's appointed designer renowned for her brass fixtures and gigantic headboards dressed in Rubelli fabric – they have now created an 18-bedroom hotel in an authentic Victorian building in the heart of Covent Garden. It is their first hotel in London.
The Henrietta plays on the bohemian-chic image of the 1970s with its pop colours (vermilion, navy blue, pale pink and emerald green), along with a discreet reminder of ancient Italian architecture consisting in various bas-reliefs, columns and pediments.
On the design side, you may notice the wink to Hollywood with a successful mix of white Carrara marble, silk, aluminium, wood, wool and terracotta. As for the restaurant (seating 80), the menu of starred London chef Ollie Dabbous offers a healthy cuisine, both intelligent and uninhibited. Don't miss out on the warm madeleines topped with whipped cream! At the Henrietta, the eye for detail has never been pushed so far.
The Henrietta Hotel
14-15 Henrietta Street
London WC2E 8QH
Rooms: from 250 GBP
+44 (0) 203 794 5313