Located in the heart of St Jame’s, Maison François has opened their doors to eager diners. The brasserie pays homage to the grand brasseries of Paris, Lyon and Alsace whilst incorporating wider influences throughout its menu.
The François’ family shares a deep love of traditional hospitality. In 1980, his father Hugh O’Neill co-founded Brasserie St. Quentin with his cousin Quentin Crewe, who was the restaurant critic at the Evening Standard for almost twenty years. François then took the reins at the Knightsbridge restaurant in 2008, transforming it into the much-loved Brompton Bar & Grill. He then went on to work with Juan Santa Cruz where he first met Ed, who had risen through the ranks to become head maître d’ at Scott’s before opening his own wine bar, Verden, in 2014. Maison François’ head chef Matthew honed his classical cooking skills at The Dorchester before becoming head chef at Isabel, and he reached the final of Masterchef: The Professionals in 2018.
In keeping with their long tradition of hospitality, the restaurant promises something special from early morning until midnight. Maison François will focus on simplicity and seasonality, beginning each day with breads and patisserie fresh from the in-house bakery. Throughout the day, guests can watch the chefs at work around the floating pass in the open kitchen. Service at Maison François dissolves the traditional distinction between front and back of house: drinks are mixed at a dispensary bar, giving the restaurant an open feel, while both chefs and waiters bring plates to tables.
The menu offers brasserie classics such as Reblochon gougères and jambon noir de Biggore, céleri rémoulade sit alongside handmade pasta dishes like ravioli dauphine with Comté and black pepper. Whole fish and cuts of meat will be cooked simply over the wood-fired grill, with dishes including poulet rôti, frites and fillet of John Dory. Also featured on the menu, are vegetable dishes made with seasonal produce sourced directly from selected farms and artisans across the UK: ratatouille with pistou and seasonal roast cabbage with anchoïade. When it’s time for dessert, Maison François’ bespoke dessert trolley will wind its way through the tables, laden with classics such as layered gâteau Marjolaine, praline Paris-Brests and a daily selection of seasonal fruit tarts. Each and every meal promotes the convivial experience of the traditional brasserie with the influence of Francois’s wider selection of flavour influences.
Downstairs, wine-lovers will be drawn to the laid-back cool of Frank’s, Maison François’ rebellious sibling wine bar. There, the bar’s dedicated chef will serve slices of terrines and pâté en croûte, plates of charcuterie from a vintage slicer, glasses of wine from magnums and sherry poured directly from the cask. At Frank’s, guests can pair wines with bar snacks from the same region. The wine list runs to over two hundred and fifty bottles – small production natural wines from off the beaten track will be listed alongside bottles and magnums from legendary French producers and powerhouse domaines.
Interiors take their cues from Ricardo Bofill’s postmodern cement factory, with soaring twenty foot-high ceilings hung with art deco chandeliers. The walls are softened by mirror-filled arches and sheer, off-white drapery, while the focal point of the dining room is a 1970s-inspired clock in patinated bronze, which sits above the open kitchen. Tables are separated by latticed glass and warm wood panels and surrounded by curved banquettes upholstered in oatmeal linen. In this brasserie the space, the menu, and the atmosphere all conspire to welcome and indulge each guest.
François says, “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 – whilst also ripping up the rulebook when it comes to service. We’ll show great respect for the legendary restaurants we admire, whilst 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.”
34 Duke Street, St. James's, London SW1