There can be beauty in simplicity, and comfort in consistency. One can easily get swept away in the panoply of new and exciting menu items from the plethora of cuisines represented by the multitude of talented chefs in NYC. And I just used several words that are synonymous with “many.”
But there’s something to be said for a simple yet perfectly executed steak frites meal from a familiar French bistro.
Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote is one of those French joints slinging such a classic meal. In fact, it’s the ONLY thing they serve. The menu is set: salad, fries and steak. The only choices you have are related to wine and dessert. Well, other than how you want your steak cooked and whether you want sauce, that is.
This kind of streamlined dining experience is awesome to me. One thing is for sure, though, and I can attest to it myself: If you’re going to focus on one thing (steak), you better damn well do it proud. Le Relais does. This is a great meal, and it comes at a great price to boot: $29.95 for the steak, fries and salad.
Let me start with the salad. It’s a simple plate of greens, nicely dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette and topped with walnuts.
It’s a great way to start, along with the sliced baguette table bread and dijon mustard (screw butter).
The steak and fries come out together.
Don’t be alarmed: A second plate of steak and fries comes out when you’re finished with this plate. I assume that’s why they call it “le relais,” or “the relay” in American: You’re getting a new steak “baton” handed off to you right after finishing the first. In round two, you get a similar amount of fries, and about half the amount of steak.
The sauce is a mustard- and peppercorn-based gravy. It’s really nice, especially with the fries. You can hold the sauce, or get it on the side, if you want, but I think this is one of the rare occasions where the sauce really makes the steak pop.
The steak hails from Cambridge Packing, and is a very nice, lean, tender strip loin cut. Pictured here is “rare,” but you can order “blue,” “medium” or “well done.” They even mark the table with your order preference as well.
That SOS means “sauce on side,” R means rare, and the M is medium. No sauce markings means that the plate will come out pre-sauced.
This steak is a solid 8/10, and the fries are incredible. Perfectly golden brown and crisp.
I’m not rating the joint on my full 100-point scale, because it’s too focused on the one dish to really be in the same ballpark as a full-menu steakhouse. However, I love the fact that this place is shameless in its offering of just one dish. It’s easily one of the best steak frites I’ve had in NYC, especially at that reasonable price point.
Now for dessert. There are so many to choose from! We went with a classic creme brûlée, and their house special, which is a layered tower of hazelnut ice cream and meringue, topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
The tower was the winner, as the creme brûlée was a bit eggy for my liking (though still very tasty).
This place is a home run, and anyone who has been here usually sings its praise any time steak is mentioned in a conversation. The best part: If you hate midtown, then you can go to the brand new location in SoHo. I’ll be heading there ASAP for sure.
LE RELAIS DE VENISE L’ENTRECOTE
590 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10022