Wandering through the plush postcodes of London will present you with plenty of fancy food opportunities. On this occasion, a St James’ stroll brings us to Francos’ – a landmark Italian restaurant sitting amongst some of the city’s most iconic buildings and attractions.
This buzzy bar, restaurant and cafe ticks all the boxes for trendy, tasteful dining. Locals are wrapped in blankets – sipping away under the canopy, while fine diners are feasting inside. It’s warm, inviting and has Italian charm written all over it.
Franco’s has been doing what it does best on Jermyn Street since 1945, and has been delivering a fine Italian service to the residents of St James’ ever since. It’s chic, it’s cosmopolitan and it’s a great spot for special celebrations or socialising over super.
Some say Franco’s was one of the first Italian restaurants to hit London – and its trusty following would suggest this statement is true. Loved amongst locals and visitors alike, it’s an incredibly well-established eatery focusing on a fusion of indulgent Italian flavours – served alongside some of the finest wines in the city.
In a prime position near St James’ Park, Franco’s is the perfect place to feast after exploring some of the city’s best-loved boutiques, private clubs, art galleries and historical landmarks – not to mention the luxurious hotels nearby – a base for culinary travellers from all four corners of the globe – all of whom should, of course, add Franco’s to their foodie to-do list when in London.
Classic Italian food comes hand-in-hand with interior decor, and Franco’s has cracked it. With its white tablecloth approach to dining, it’s fancy, but without being overly formal. There’s nothing intimidating about the place.
Having undergone a recent makeover, Franco’s is modern, but with Italian authenticity running through. You’ll find bright botanical wallpaper, plenty of mirrors and framed prints adorning the walls. There are no gingham tablecloths and chintzy furniture in here. Shabby chic Italian restaurant it is not – it’s all about clean and sleek contemporary style.
Whether it’s an Aperol Spritz under the canopy in the warmer months, a piping hot coffee at the bar during winter, or a wine and dine supper, there’s something for all groups and individuals.
We’re in for a late-night winter supper, so it’s a bottle of sommelier-selected wine for us. A robust red to go with our meaty main goes down a treat. The wine list is a bible of its own, so make sure you get the experts to guide you through the very best bottle to match your food.
This contemporary cafe-bar with a continental twist is open around the clock – so there’s plenty of opportunity to get a piece of the action. We do advise booking in advance, as this spot is, understandably, a favourite amongst locals and visiting foodies alike.
Franco’s serves up the good stuff from breakfast, all the way through to lunch and dinner – with small plates, snacks and canapés to keep hunger at bay all day long.
What we ate
A basket of warm bread with salted butter kicks off our feast. Simple yet oh-so pleasing – and the perfect appetiser as we work through the wine bible.
Our dinner date starts the feast with the parma ham (£16) – a healthy portion of Italian ham, dry-cured and served in a simple stack beside a bundle of oil-drizzled mozzarella. Delicious. We’re won over by the starter-size pasta dishes, opting for the pappardelle with porcini mushrooms (£16). Fresh, flattened pasta noodles topped with the tastiest sprinkling of truffle – always a winner! Porcini is a hero ingredient when it comes to Italian dining, and we can see why.
Our meaty mains are served in the form of a 250g beef fillet (£38) – served perfectly pink in the middle with a crisp, chargrilled coating. Just wonderful. Our juicy steak is served with spinach sautéed with garlic (£5), a bowl of rocket and parmesan (£6) and the fluffiest of roast potatoes (£5).
Our sweet feast comes to a close with a boozy amaretto crème brûlée (£8.75) and Sicilian cannolo with pistachio ice cream (£8.75). The perfect puds to seal the deal – served with sommelier-picked dessert wine.
We leave with big smiles, full stomachs and a top of the range restaurant recommendation for all our chums visiting or living in the city. Franco’s is something of a dining dynasty in central London. It has a story to tell, it serves some of the finest seasonal Italian food in town and it’s a wonderland for wine-lovers. We’ll certainly be back!