Carnivores, francophiles, the indecisive and Canary Wharf workers, rejoice. L'Entrecote Le Relais de Venice may have a long complicated name (normally shortened to Entrecote by those in the know) but boasts one of the simplest dinner menus either side of the Channel. In fact, the savoury menu consists of two items.
Salad and Steak Frites is their obsession. Cooked and served in the same way for over 50 years both in the original Parisian restaurant, and through their UK branches, time has honed their art.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of L'Entrecote, but my (many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily visit own dime - and have done so several times when that red meat urge hits.
Our lovely French waitress, dressed in a traditional maids outfit and a slash of red lipstick greets us with a smile, before asking Red or White (wine) and Blue, Rare, Medium or Well Done (steak). It's a simple as that.
Before we know it, we are presented with our starter: green salad with mustard vinaigrette topped with walnuts. The vinaigrette clings beautifully to each crisp leaf, just the best side of piquant, topped with walnuts crowning the plate.
Vegetarians look away! (And be warned, if you visit Entrecote, dinner is a salad with cheese - tasty but not quite in the same league.)
No half measures for this restaurant, the trimmed "Porte Maillot" Entrecôte Steak, a matured cut of beef reared by British farmers, is served sliced in delicate slivers doused with their special butter sauce, a family recipe coveted for years) and served with a heaping pile of crisp French fries. One third of your steak frites meal is kept aside, warmed until you have cleaned your plate, then presented with aplomb.
It isn't your typical gourmet meal, cossetted and trimmed to within an inch of it's poncy life, but a hearty meal to be enjoyed with good friends. A typical red-blooded kiwi, I like mine served rare, and one thing to bear in mind is that they serve steak in the French vein, so medium is itself quite pink.
Then, comes the only real decision of the evening. Dessert.
With teeteringly full tummy (even saying no to a second helping of fries much to our waitresses horror) the crème brulee is ever a sweet choice (naturally gluten free to boot) Whilst towering confections of chocolate, whipped cream and red fruit appeared on my neighbours plates, I happily enjoyed my crème brulee, the satisfying crunch of the sugar crust marrying with the sweet cream centre.
I was ever curious to see how the Canary Wharf branch would stack with Marylebone's far more intimate setting where devotees queue for up to an hour outside. The owners have carried over the sense of their Parisian street market chic, with small intimately placed wooden tables, but scaled up to meet the banking world's hunger pangs.
Service is quick and friendly, and if you find yourself in Canary wharf, Entrecote is a perfect place to sate those red-blooded cravings - even over a lunch hour. Their busiest times at the moment are Thursday & Friday lunchtimes and evenings, and the Thursday evening we visited the hubbub was pleasant. It also wasn't full of city boys, unlike the pubs close by. The best of both worlds, sat side by side, within 15 minutes tube of Central London...
Entrecote, you make it rather easy to while away the hours...
Psst: As part of the festivities, "L’Entrecôte", which is situated in Canary Wharf overlooking the water, will be offering its guests weekday discounts of 25% from their lunch or dinner, from the 14th to 31st July; excluding weekends, which will have 30% discounts for lunch and dinner from 14th July to 31st August.
Twitter | Google+ | Facebook | Bloglovin' | Email