Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > France >
Sep 28, 2009 01:42 PM

Ordering steak American medium rare ?

How do I order a steak in France cooked American medium rare?
I understand "À point" is rare by American standards.
Is "Bien" the right term or is there another term to use that will get me a steak just the way I like it ?

Example in photo shows what I mean:

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. According to chart you have shown, the first four in order are bleu, saignant, à point, bien. l will admit it is more difficult to get a steak especially a cote du boeuf for two cooked à point. You may have to send it back, but no one seems to mind. Had to do it with a onglet cheval a few days ago and when it reappeared, it was perfect. Bien may also be a bit more cooked than medium.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

      The tricky part of it is that sometimes a restaurant will simply assume you like your meat less rare than the French. As a result they automaticaly notch it up a level, so I am afraid it is a bot of a lottery. Follow DCM's advice above, it can always be cooked somemore.

    2. A point means medium rare -- it means to the exact point when the whole meat is cooked but no more than that. Note that:
      - It is very difficult to obtain with any meat as most restaurants don't master cooking and follow your instructions, here like in other countries, and especially when they're not standard. So when you order "à point" and get "rare" it's not a linguistic misunderstanding, but plain old incompetence or lack of seriousness.
      - Beef in France and beef in the US are two very different things, the name might be misleading. French beef is less aged, always grass-fed, usually lean but often with some fat on it, the taste is very different. That is also the reason why French tend to eat their steak more rare -- it is a very different experience from a rare American steak.

      3 Replies
      1. re: souphie

        No. "A point" means medium.
        We had this argument before :)

        Now, I agree with you ordering the right cooking is a bit of a lottery because the cooks are not always good and because patrons do not always know the right way th express it.

        See reference in french (where they seem to use the same pictures btw):

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            Everybody's right. :-)
            à point does mean medium, but I understand that what is considered "medium" in France is rarer than "medium" in America. Therefore if you order "à point", you get medium rare.