Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > France >
Jul 5, 2007 11:24 AM

Steak Frites at Cafe vs. Restaurant vs. Bistro??

I have had steak frites at a few Paris restaurants with an average price of about 30 euros. I have seen people order them at casual cafes and they smelled terrific. I'm wondering how the quality and taste at each type of establishment differs? Is it like the difference between Morton's and Western Sizzler in the U.S.?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Nope, not in my opinion. It's just too hard to generalize. Depends entirely on which restaurant, and which cafe. Cafes are spottier propositions in general, as the quality of the kitchens usually isn't high, but there are cafes that can knock your socks off. There was a recent NYTimes article on the best steak frites in Paris, but I thought it missed some of the best. My pick would be either Chez Denise or Relais de Venise (aka l'Entrecote). But there are so many good 'uns.

    2 Replies
    1. re: veneto

      Depends entirely on the café and its cook, IMO. You can be lucky as you can be terribly disappointed despite the terrific smell. The steak/frites at La Rotonde, a café/brasserie in Montparnasse is pretty decent as are the other dishes.
      Go for the filet or the entrecôte Saler (usually of good quality).

      Personally, I wouldn't go for a steak/frites anywhere. Often you'll get an entrecôte which is sort of a shoe sole.

      The NYT article from April 2007 mentioned by veneto is right here. However, I believe, you need to register to be able to access it:

      1. re: Dodo

        Would totally second La Rotonde, and its georgeous 400g entrecote (if that's a shoe sole, we're talking platform shoes), that is however usually served with a gratin dauphinois, melty, tasty, crispy on top.

        Great 400g entrecote also at le Petit Riche. True that good entrecote cannot be cheap, and it needs to be thick.

        Strongly recommend le Gourmet de Ternes, Metro Ternes, Bd de Courcelles, one of the best steacks in town, so tender you don't need a knife, can be served just grilled, with a sauce au poivre, with os a moelle (bone marrow). Good fries too, and don't miss the baba au rhum in dessert.

        L'Entrecote-Le relais de Venise's main appeal is its famous sauce, but it is indeed not bad if you don't mind waiting in line. (on the bd Pereire, next to Porte Maillot). Can also consider nearby Chez Georges, as well as Georges - le jeu du Mail, rue du Mail.

        Should also mention, as always, expensive and delicious l'Ami Louis for its cote de boeuf and fries. Le Severo, rue des Plantes, focuses on meat, which he buys from the top notch butcher nearby, Desnoyer (as do Gagnaire, Pacaud and l'Ami Louis...).

        And I would agree that you can have excellent steack frites in cafes, but quality change with cooks and bosses, who change often. I like Lou Mazuc, rue Lecourbe, in that category.

        La maison de l'Aubrac serves excellent beef 24/7, rue Marboeuf. In general, if you refer to the map of parisian bistrots in this board, you have a good list of usual suspects, even if not all of them offer steack frites.

    2. I've been browsing this board looking for recommendations for steack frites, but I mostly find posters talking about faux fillet and entrecote steacks. I might be wrong, but I've always seen steack frites as being something different, and usually served in cafes and cheaper bistros rahter than the more high end places. I've always thought that the French use a cheaper cut, one we don't have in the UK, in their proper steack frites, which is usually thinly sliced, as it is not the tenderest cut, but is very tasty. Does anyone agree with me? Does anyone know what the cut is (I think it might be bavette)? And does anyone know good places in Paris to eat this very basic but delicious (when it's done right) dish?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Theresa

        When I worked in Paris my colleagues would take me to local cafe's and brasseries in Neuilly for lunch on a regular basis. They would point out the ones that were good for steak frites etc. Generally this was based on where they got their meat from - the butcher, the region and breed (no doubt the name of the animal if they could!). Often quite basic ordinary places would have lots of details about the meat and its origin on the menu.

        And I think you are correct the cuts are different - from memory it is called Onglet (Hanger Steak), a thin steak with lots of flavour served fairly rare.

        Sorry I can't remember the names but maybe the places mentioned in the 2nd to last para of Souphies mail will hit the spot.