There’s an old adage about doing one thing well as opposed to doing a few things averagely, which would have been very apt for this post, but despite trawling the whole interwebs I can’t find it. Oh well.
So last night our fiends Charlotte and Mark introduced to us this restaurant called Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte. It seems it’s a bit of an institution, but somehow never made it onto my radar. It’s on Marylebone Lane, right opposite the awesome Golden Hind fish and chip shop (which deserves a post all of its own – all in good time), and is a great example of the benefits of the ‘do one thing well’ mantra.
At L’Entrecôte there’s basically no menu. You sit down (after a lengthy queue if you arrive at peak times) and get served a lettuce and walnut salad with a lovely mustardy vinaigrette, followed by steak frites. The steak comes served thinly sliced, covered in the restaurants own special sauce, the recipe of which is closely guarded. And that’s it. Kind of.
The story of the sauce, and the restaurant itself is quite an interesting one. In 1959, a guy called Paul Gineste de Saurs bought an old Italian restaurant in the 17th arrondissement of Paris. He decided that he was going to serve a very simple menu, which remains unchanged to this day, and instead of serving his steaks with the traditional herb butter, he created his own sauce. Everyone went mad for the sauce, and the restaurant was a hit. There are rumours of a family fallout between Monsieur de Saur’s kids, but one of his daughters now runs the restaurant, and is responsible for opening other locations in London, New York, Barcelona and bizarrely Bahrain. She is also the guardian of the secret sauce recipe. The waitress told us that it is still made in France and shipped over as a paste, where it is finished in house with butter, parsley and shallots.
The venue is a bit Disney does bistro, but the quality of the food more than made up for it. The salad was very simple but tasty, and the steak tender, flavoursome and cooked to perfection, the frites excellent, and that sauce. WOW. It tastes a bit like a pesto remixed with extra Parmesan, butter anchovy and no pine nuts. You can understand why those Parisians went so crazy for it all those years ago.
The portions aren’t huge, but they do come round with seconds, which is a nice touch. The house wine was also pretty decent, and there is a menu for cheese and dessert, both of which were also good. But to be honest, what you’re really here for is the steak and sauce, and I for one will be going back for more soon.
Apologies for the quality of the photos. I only had my iPhone on me.