Tuesday, June 24, 2014

French Eats: Le Relais de L'Entrecôte

Guys, I made a huge mistake. I started writing this blog post on an empty stomach and now it's growling and whining so hard. So, if you're hungry, you might want to step away from the computer. Or, maybe you like surfing food porn on an empty stomach, in which case, stick around!

If you're ever in Paris, I strongly suggest you go to Le Relais. There are several locations, two in the 6th and one in the 8th; I happen to prefer the Saint Germain one. What's so special about Le Relais? Well, there's only one thing on the menu: steak frites and they do it so well.
We spent the afternoon walking around, sightseeing at Notre Dame and the Louvre so it was an easy walk to Rue Saint-Benoît.

The restaurant opens at 7PM for dinner but I suggest you get there at 6:30 because a line will form quickly. It was raining when we got there so there were only a handful of us there at 6:30 but around 6:45, a long queue of people appeared all of a sudden.

There's a menu posted in the window but all you'll is one starter and main course and the rest are drink options and desserts.
The restaurant is packed with seats and the waitresses wear cute little black dresses with white peter pan collars and aprons. Since the restaurant is always crazy busy, you'll be shuffled into your seats rather brusquely and as soon as you sit down, your server will toss a plate of salad in front of you.
The salad is quite simple. It's just green leaf lettuce and frisée with toasted walnuts tossed in a mustard dressing. I love this salad because frisée is friggin' awesome and I love the pungency of the spicy mustard.
You can certainly take a gander a the wine list, but might I suggest the house red? When the waitress asks you for your drink order, just say, "Maison rouge." I'm not a fan of red wine - stupid tannins - but this red is pretty mild, not overly dry, and it's a perfect accompaniment to the red meat you're about to be served.
Cheers!
Once you're settled in with your wine and salads, the waitress won't take your orders. Instead, she'll simply ask you how you want your steak cooked. Your choices here are saignant (sen-yahn, rare), à point (ah pwehn, medium), or bien cuit (bee-ehn kwee, well done). There's no messing around with medium rare or medium well. I always ask for medium, à point, which is French for "on point" or "perfectly cooked." On point? Perfectly cooked? That's persuasion enough for me. I saw a table with "BC" written on their table. It made me so friggin' sad.
Hurry up and finish your salad because it's about to get really, really good.
Oh... my... STEAK! The beef itself is a cheap cut of meat; entrecote is a name for several different steaks but I think this is sirloin. It's precut against the grain so every bite you chew is tender. The fries are crisp and perfect. But, really, this whole meal is all about the sauce. Normally, l'entrecote is served with an herb compound butter but here, your plate is slathered in a rich, buttery, thyme and mustard based sauce. I don't know what the secret of this sauce is, but I tried to make it once and I failed. I mean, the sauce was still yummy but it wasn't as good as the real stuff.
By the way, don't be super American and ask for ketchup. Dip your fries in mustard! I love the way mustard dipped fries taste with the steak. I think the sweetness and acidity of ketchup would contaminate your tongue and you'd lose the flavor of the steak.
One of my favorite parts of the meal? Once you've finished your plate, the waitress will come with round two! She'll slap another three pieces of steak onto your plate along with heaping spoonfuls of the sauce and then come back with more fries. It's awesome.
After dinner, I recommend you get some dessert. We shared the vacherin d'été, which was meringues stacked with ice cream and berry sorbet drizzled in a berry sauce. Mwah! *Kissing fingers*
We also got profiteroles. I shoved an entire profiterole in my mouth before I realized that they were filled with ice cream. Brain freeze! I should mention that these profiteroles were somewhat stale. I think they're premade and then frozen and doled out as orders come in. Personally, I think my own profiteroles are the best.
And my favorite dessert of all time? Crème brûlée! Creamy, vanillary, and delicious.
So, what do you think? You up for a fantastic meal and amazing desserts? Well, fly to Paris, then! FYI, if you're unable to get to Paris anytime soon, you have an alternative with Relais de Venise (a different chain serving pretty much the same fare) which has locations in London and New York City.
xoxo.

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