|Saturday Evening Service at Le Relais de Venise NYC|
"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"|
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|
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.