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Mar 31, 2007 08:43 AM

Steak Tartare in Paris (and France in General)

My wife and I are going to Paris in two weeks and enjoy eating steak tartare here in the U.S. (esp. in French-type Bistros in NY and SF). We read that much of the tartare in France in horse meat. Is this the "norm"? Can you get tartare au bifstek? Not too sure we want to go for raw horse meat. I know, when in Paris....

Any rec's for beef tartare?

Thanks in advance and have found all the previous Hound posts for Paris and France to be a major source of information and inspiration.

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  1. I have not heard that. Most restaurants are quite particular about stating the source of their meat. I had heard than many years ago horse was sometimes substituted for steak but it is now illegal and horse needs to be labelled.

    I also understood that many horse butchers were closing as tastes had changed. However I came across the attached recently:

    My advice is to choose good reputable restaurants and you won't go wrong - in fact it sounds as you may actually have to be "lucky" and pay more for horse...! My wife had a "superb" steak tartare at the "Cafe de l'Homme" for lunch yesterday (and she eats it a lot). This is the cafe in the "Musee de l'homme" which sits just accros the Seine, opposite the Tour Eiffel. It has a nice terrace and thus has a great view for a relaxing lunch (it is quite fashionable at the moment).

    As you say it is definitely something to enjoy - interestingly I saw a 10 year old girl order it for lunch last week and wolf down a large plate full. The french start food appreciation young...!

    3 Replies
    1. re: PhilD


      Thank you for your feedback and for your suggestion. Glad to know we won't find ourselves being surprised in a not-so-good way. I have noticed that you currently live in Paris and so I also appreciate the current information that you provide.

      I saw that a negative remark about a reader's bad experience with Steak Tartare has been removed and upon reviewing the rules, I understand why.

      But this brings up another topic and that is the overall safety of the steak tartare found in France. Without mentioning any names (unless in a positive way) have readers found this to be a safe dish to order?

      I have been eating it here for so long I forget that it is still just raw meat and as such carries the possiblity of causing problems if not handled with care (hope this topic makes it past the admins...) Thank you.

      1. re: parker30

        Interesting question. We have not really heard of any specific issues related to steak tartare. However, in our two years in Paris we have had our fair share of "gastric complaints" which we put down to the "laisez-faire" food hygine standards. Having lived and travelled in Asia extensivley we have had more "problems" in France than there which surprised us - and we ate lots of interesting food in interesting places.

        However, the great thing about France is that they have not gone overboard with food hygine laws. Un-pasturised cheese is the norm, food is cooked for flavour not to satisfy a microbiologists paranoia (meat is rare not well cooked). Food packaging is minimal (less landfill and carbon) and people handle produce in order to select the best. But, I don't think this means the French are any less diligent about more serious aspects of food safety like BSE in British beef, preservatives in wine etc.

        We love it it and simply shrug our shoulders and take the pluses and minuses in our stride.

        1. re: PhilD

          Current FDA regs on pasturized cheese is one of the saddest aspects of the US culinary experience.

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