//Maison François, London SW1: ‘Sparks joy in the saddest heart’ – restaurant review | Grace Dent on restaurants

Maison François, London SW1: ‘Sparks joy in the saddest heart’ – restaurant review | Grace Dent on restaurants

A brief, intense, but thoroughly welcome moment of minor magic

Maison François is a new, Gallic-style, all-day brasserie close to Piccadilly Circus. In a godforsaken world, this feels like good news – or at least it does to me, because I consider the French all-day brasserie to be one of the high points of modern civilisation. It doesn’t live by earthly time constraints or dress codes; you can pitch up whenever, looking elegant or dishevelled. You can order a pichet of burgundy at 11am and the staff will treat you as if you’re Brigitte Bardot in 1973, taking a breather from feeding donkeys at La Madrague. The menu is generally vast, often flappy, laminated and will contain celeriac remoulade, four types of fatty spud and a decent paris-brest. I wish they’d made more of brasseries in the Tricolore 1 textbook, rather than its arduous passages on babyfoot table football and son et lumière.

Opening any sort of restaurant in central London right now is like willingly putting your head into a lion’s cage and hoping it might merely rearrange your fringe. Maison François has more of a fighting chance than most: Matthew Ryle, an ex-MasterChef 2018 finalist, is chef, having trained at the Dorchester and then worked at Isabel; the founder is the affable François O’Neill, formerly of Brompton Bar & Grill; and the rather brilliant Ed Wyand, ex of Scott’s and then Clapton’s Verden, is front of house.

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Read more: theguardian.com