Friday, December 16, 2011

Parisian Favorite Comes to New York City

Saturday Evening Service at Le Relais de Venise NYC
Recently, upon the recommendation of a trusted co-worker and friend, I was excited to dine at
"Le Relais de Venise "L’Entrecôte", a Parisian restaurant she had first stumbled upon while traveling in Europe. She told me of how an extravagantly long line and the fierce aroma of fresh steak drew her in to the restaurant's original location in Paris. When she learned of a new New York branch, she did not dare dream that it could hold a candle to the original, but she found that it was just as hearty and fulfilling. Of course, WGINY had to give it a try... 

First Course = Salad 

The handful of worldwide locations of "L’Entrecôte," as it is often referred to, all have no menu. No menu is necessary as the only meal served is steak and frites. As soon as you walk into the New York branch, your senses are overpowered by the satiating scent of sizzling steak. (Don't worry vegetarians, there are some exceptions made for you...). Your first course is a simple salad mixed with walnuts and topped with a mustard-vinaigrette dressing that has just enough kick to keep it interesting. 

"Steak and Frites"
At some point, a waitress, who is most likely a young, pretty female styled in "French Maid" attire, will visit your table and ask each member of your party how s/he likes his or her steak cooked. There are only three options -- rare, medium or well -- no in betweens allowed. Although the restaurant says that the main course of "steak and frites" is served in two portions, it is really more like one regular-sized plate of steak and frites followed by a very small second helping of steak and some more frites. Nevertheless, the steak is absolutely superb. Entrecôte is a French term meaning a "premium cut of beef" (Source: Wikipedia), and there is no doubt that this steak is of premium quality.

As you bite into each tender morsel of the sliced steak, what will really make you swoon is the "secret sauce." That's right, according to the restaurant's maitre'd, the sauce is made from a true secret recipe known to only four living persons in the world. I did try to ask a variety of waitresses if they could reveal any ingredients, but each one responded that she herself did not know how the sauce was made. Apparently, the base of the sauce for all for all of the restaurant locations is made in France, shipped out to the other branches, and then finally mixed fresh at each individual location. You will definitely want to lap this sauce up by the spoonful, even when the steak is all gone. It also makes a good dipping sauce for the frites, which, while served traditionally thin and crispy, could use a touch more salt and/or pepper. There is also homemade mustard on each table. Add a dollop to your steak every so often if you like things spicy.

Wine and Coffee Bar 
While enjoying your meal, be sure to also check out the wine list. Although the options are fairly limited, each bottle has been chosen to pair perfectly with your dinner, and since full bottles start at only $23.95, there is no excuse not to order one.

Finally, you will also want to peruse the 16 or so dessert options to round out your Parisian dining experience. If you don't speak French, call over a waitress to describe the desserts for you, as the printed list does not include English descriptions.

After much debate, my dining companions and I settled on two sweets -- a classic creme brulee, and what we were told was the house specialty, "Le Vacherin de Relais," a tower of meringue layered with vanilla and hazelnut ice cream, drowned in hot fudge and topped with whipped cream. The latter was actually a bit too rich for my tastes, but the creme brulee was divine. The caramelized top tasted like the crispy skin of a freshly roasted marshmallow, and the thick, sweet cream underneath the sugar-coated top was heavenly.

I can honestly say that my friend's recommendation for Le Relais de Venise "L’Entrecôte" was spot on. I enjoyed a wonderful, fun meal in an atmosphere that sought to transport me to Paris from the moment I arrived. 

Note that "L’Entrecôte" does not accept reservations, so plan accordingly. The New York branch of Le Relais de Venise "L’Entrecôte" is located at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 57th Street. A full meal of salad and two portions of steak and steak and frites costs $25.95 per person. Drink and dessert options can be found here


  1. So glad that you wrote about this place. We had a blast when we went there.