Secrets are meant to be kept. But when a secret is as good as Le Relais de Venise “L’Entrecôte” then it’s a secret that needs to be shared. Celebrating 60 years, people worldwide have tried and failed to imitate the no menu formula of steak, fries and secret sauce. With restaurants in New York, Paris Mexico and London, Relais de Venise is the first and original steak-frites restaurant.
In 1959, Paul Gineste de Saurs purchased an Italian restaurant called Le Relais de Venise in Paris. He retained the Venetian décor, added a ‘L’Entrecôte’ sign outside and offered people a no-choice menu of a salad starter followed by steak-frites. Whereas most restaurants served steak-frites with herbed butter, he served it with a secret recipe sauce. This same recipe has spellbound visitors to Le Relais de Venise for 60 years.
Décor is elegant with Venetian artwork and striking flower displays. Today in all their branches, brightly coloured linens and even cutlery are original from their mother restaurant in Paris. No reservations can be made (apart from the London Soho branch) and there is no menu – simply tell the team how you would like your steak cooked! With so few ingredients used, suppliers are hand-picked for absolute quality. Beef is supplied by Donald Russell and potatoes (variety of potato is also a secret) from France are hand cut every morning.
To start, a salad dressed in a tangy mustard vinaigrette and crushed walnuts comes with French bread. The main course of steak and frites is served in two rounds so don’t be surprised when you are offered more. You are also welcome to ask for extra fries and sauce.
Steak is tender and moist, even if you have it well done. Fries are crispy and golden. Now the star attraction – THE SAUCE. The recipe is a family secret and even the Chefs don’t know what is inside as sauce is prepared at one kitchen in Paris. It’s hard to describe but the butter base carries a complex combination of herbs and spices. Many have tried to replicate but nobody has succeeded. I personally think one of the secret ingredients could be anchovies. Once you taste, you will be hooked for life.
To go with this feast, a select wine list makes choosing easy. We recommend a house red, bottled especially for the restaurant. Save room for desserts which are classically French. Our favourite were chocolate covered profiteroles and a mysteriously named Le Gateau du Relais, a dreamy chocolate cake two ways. One piece is a soft brownie and the other, a fondant of chocolate.
So the secret is out. If you are looking for an elegant setting and the luxury of not having a menu, Le Relais de Venise ticks all boxes. Their secret sauce is revered and celebrated all over the world so treat yourself and head down to the holy grail of steak-frites.
Branches in New York, Paris, Mexico and London.
To find out more, visit: www.relaisdevenise.com
By Mark Captain