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bavette, minute steak, flank steak, garde manger

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eatwell Jul 28, 2010 01:08 PM

Help!! I noticed Garde Manger has bavette(minute steak and frites(fries) on the menu at exorbitant prices! I will be having dinner there on Thursday night. Hopefully this is not a bad omen(i.e. their menu perhaps, I am fearful, serves ordinary fare, translated into French at inflated prices!)
I am a humble, prairie girl who only remembers bavette(flank steak) to be a very cheap cut of meat(minute steak, london broil, flank steak). Why is it so elevated here ? Please , could someone explain why the french think such a cheap cut of meat is worthy of exorbitant prices?

I noted that Garde Manger serves it as, bavette and frites, please ! I have memories of my mother serving it quite regularly because it is/was a very cheap cut of meat!! It was ok, she ran it over a broiler quickly, splash of wine, carmelized onions and mushrooms, fine , but cheap! Now, I will not even go into how disappointing another cheap cup of meat , hanger steak at L Express was, yuk!!

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  1. cherylmtl RE: eatwell Jul 28, 2010 01:13 PM

    A well-prepared bavette or onglet is truly a thing of beauty...being a former Prairie girl myself, I can assure you that what you recall as minute or flank steak should in no way resemble a bavette that's been properly cut and prepared. And bavette isn't actually either of those - I can't recall the exact name (is it hanger steak, perhaps?) but it's not a cheap cut here (although not as expensive as filet, obviously...)

    1. m
      mtlmaven RE: eatwell Jul 28, 2010 06:01 PM

      My friend had it last week and found it to be quite tasty. It was perfectly cooked and the fries were delicious. She also said that it was quite a hefty piece and that for the price it was well worth it. In fact, Everything we had: The tomato, avocado and fried cheddar salad, the salmon tartare, the seafood risotto and the "cote de boeuf" was exquisite. It took me a long time to go but I will get back there as soon as I can!

      12 Replies
      1. re: mtlmaven
        e
        eatwell RE: mtlmaven Aug 1, 2010 03:55 PM

        Well, bavette is indeed flank steak, yes it is, confirmed by my local butcher. Also hanger steak is different, however, still a cheap, tough, cut of meat. He agreed that it (flank,bavette)is popular with the French and those who aspire to be frenchies! Compared to other places in Canada, it is very expensive because of the gourmet status it receives locally, but does not deserve . He said it is trendy to pretend to like it in Quebec , not a great cut of meat, but trendy! Also he remarked that butchers here were laughing about its inflated price in Quebec, yes laughing all the way to the bank. The consensus on this board seems to be that if any food is not French it is crap!!
        He also shared with me that he feeds it to his dogs! After 35 years in the business he still is amazed how meats come and go in fashion, not unlike the clothing industry(he claims).
        We did enjoy a wonderful dinner at Garde Manger, centred on seafood, no trendy french items, wow, it was fabulous.

        1. re: eatwell
          carswell RE: eatwell Aug 1, 2010 04:16 PM

          Well, your butcher is a fool. Hanger steak is quite possibly the most flavourful cut of beef and has long been referred to as a butcher's cut -- one of the "morceaux du boucher" in France -- because the butcher would often set it aside for himself (and not to give to the dog). The last time I bought a hanger steak, a week ago at Atwater Market's Boucherie des Tours, the butcher expressed amazement that people would pay a premium for flavourless cuts like filet when they could get an onglet for so much less. And speaking of price, it wasn't at all expensive: IIRC, a 280-g steak -- enough for two servings, since there's no bone and little fat -- cost me under $6.

          After years of thinking that bavette was flank steak (a misconception propagated by several dictionaries, cookbooks and meat cut manuals), I now agree that what most local butchers call bavette is sirloin flap, as claimed by mtlalex in an earlier thread on this subject. See http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/612519 for details.

          «The consensus on this board seems to be that if any food is not French it is crap!!»
          Right, which is why there's so much raving about Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Greek, Turkish, Mexican, Peruvian, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Indian, Lebanese, Syrian, Northern African, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and other "ethnic" restaurants and markets here. Look over the thread listing for the last week or two, especially threads started by locals (visitors come to Montreal mainly seeking French food). Some consensus there, eatwell!

          If French cooking gets the most time in the spotlight, it's because we live in a French city with a high percentage of French restaurants, especially the restaurants that visitors inquire about. D'oh!

          1. re: carswell
            b
            BLM RE: carswell Aug 1, 2010 06:33 PM

            The way I read it, eatwell was saying that his/her butcher commented that bavette is over-rated by the French(not the hanger steak).

            1. re: BLM
              carswell RE: BLM Aug 1, 2010 06:49 PM

              You may be right. Or maybe the parenthetical clarification was edited in while I was drafting my reply. No matter, nearly all my points about hanger steak also apply to bavette: it's one of the "morceaux du boucher," is one of the most flavourful cuts of beef, is all meat (no bone and little fat) and, while not the bargain that hanger steak is, is still worth buying. And it's NOT flank steak (which leads one to wonder about a butcher who says it is).

              Of course, like everyone else who buys bavette, I'm only pretending to enjoy it. I was pretending when my mom cooked it when I was a kid and I've been pretending for the last 25 years I've been cooking it as an adult. Guess it's clear I'm a wannabe frenchie. (Oh, the shame! But thanks for the insight, eatwell!) Plus I've got to do my part to help my butcher meet his yacht payments. Besides, if it's not French food, it's crap. And no other culture eats sirloin flap, you know. They feed it to the dogs!

            2. re: carswell
              t
              The Chemist RE: carswell Aug 2, 2010 05:06 AM

              Agreed, both bavette and onglet are my favorite cuts. I must be pretending too! =D

              For a well prepared an inexpensive example, I find that the McCord Cafe prepares a great bavette with their lunch special. I have to go there quite a bit for business and I never get tired of it.

              As for the OP, most restaurants charge about triple the price of the raw ingredients for items on their menu. This is because, in addition to the ingredients, you are paying for the service, the rent, the utilities, the dishes being washed, insurance, the expertise of the chefs, the other various wages, and the profit (which is the incentive for the people running what might be the most stressful and uncertain business venture you can think of). When a restaurant has a certain reputation for excellence, you also pay for that. Especially when it is a small place with few tables and huge demand... such as Garde Manger and APDC.

            3. re: eatwell
              ScoobySnacks20 RE: eatwell Aug 1, 2010 05:39 PM

              Flank Steak is NOT bavette alhtough it comes form the same muscle. Bavette is the very tip of the flank (and attaches to the lovely hanger steak too).

              Along with a nice ribeye, they are favorite pieces of steak. (and I love all of them)

              Price is just a question of offer and demand. My toughest challenge is to find a butcher who still prepares hanger steak.

              Most "general" butchers treat me like an alien when I ask for it... Sad but true.

              1. re: ScoobySnacks20
                i
                ios94 RE: ScoobySnacks20 Aug 1, 2010 09:04 PM

                I'm always confused with these particular cuts/names myself. What about "skirt steak", is it the same cut but different term as flank?

                1. re: ios94
                  carswell RE: ios94 Aug 3, 2010 06:35 AM

                  «What about "skirt steak", is it the same cut but different term as flank?»

                  What I know as skirt steak (the outer steak as per NAMP's description) is a different cut, though from the same general area of the animal.

                  "In the United States, the NAMP (North American Meat Processors Association) classifies all skirts steaks NAMP 121.[1] NAMP 121 is further subdivided into the outer (outside) skirt steak (NAMP 121C) and the inner (inside) skirt steak (NAMP 121D).

                  "The outside skirt steak is the trimmed, boneless portion of the diaphragm muscle attached to the 6th through 12th ribs on the underside of the short plate. This steak is covered in a tough membrane that should be removed before cooking.

                  "The inside skirt steak is a boneless portion of the flank trimmed free of fat and membranes."
                  - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skirt_steak

                  In French, the outer skirt steak is called *la hampe*, *steak de hampe*, etc. Or so it seems. There's a doctoral dissertation waiting to be written on French vs. English vs. U.S. vs. Canadian cuts of meat, in particular beef.

                  1. re: carswell
                    r
                    RachelRo RE: carswell Aug 6, 2010 07:53 AM

                    Has anyone watched the 2 part video series "How to Butcher a Side of Beef"? It's still available on the Gourmet website. Very informative: it really helps to understand where all those meat-bits live on a whole cow.
                    (Warning: it's a little graphic... I mean, it _is_ a butcher shop)
                    Part 1 http://www.gourmet.com/food/video/200...
                    Part 2 http://www.gourmet.com/food/video/200...

                2. re: ScoobySnacks20
                  t
                  thomasein RE: ScoobySnacks20 Aug 2, 2010 06:37 AM

                  At least in NYC I believe that bavette is called tri-tip steak. Descriptive in that it is roughly triangular in shape and the tip of the sirloin. Incidentally, there was an article in the NY Times a few weeks back singing the praises of this particular cut.

                  As for the bavette at Garde Manger, I found it excellent and think they prepare one of the best in the city.

                  1. re: ScoobySnacks20
                    m
                    Mr F RE: ScoobySnacks20 Aug 2, 2010 03:16 PM

                    Latina on St-Viateur/Waverly has onglet, how regularly I don't know.

                    Don't remember the exact price, but it's consistent with what Carswell reports for the Atwater Market.

                  2. re: eatwell
                    hala RE: eatwell Aug 3, 2010 10:12 AM

                    Since moving to montreal, bavette has become one of my favorite cuts of meat. If prepared properly it is amazing. This is why we are willing to pay extra to eat it at a nice restaurent because the chef is able to take something humble and turn it into a work of art. How is that not worthy of our time and money?

                3. afoodyear RE: eatwell Aug 2, 2010 10:26 AM

                  As should already be evident, the cut you mentioned is a favorite of many, French or otherwise, and is a classic bistro menu item (steak frites). In general, the cheaper cuts are also more flavorful and require more expertise (and in some cases, time) to cook well. The price is reflective of that, like how a perfect demi-glace would not be determined by the cost of humble meat bones. While eating at a place like Garde Manger, you're also paying for location (Old Port is not cheap) and the celebrity status of the chef coupled with the demand that arises because of that.

                  If you're put off by ordering these cuts, simply order something else off of the menu? L'Express, for example, has a diverse menu - why order the hanger steak if it's not to your liking?

                  P.S. menus written in French, in a French area, don't have necessarily have that sort of posh, price-uplifting allure that you might get from a restaurant serving Frenchified items out west. It's just simply the language that is spoken here.

                  -----
                  L'Express Restaurant
                  3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M4, CA

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: afoodyear
                    t
                    The Chemist RE: afoodyear Aug 2, 2010 10:51 AM

                    That's a good point. Often a menu item in Quebec will say: "Pork chops" when they could say "Sous vide pork 'rib eye' served with foie gras and truffle sweet potato puree, spring vegetables, sauce espagnole", for example. But simplicity is sometimes best.

                    1. re: The Chemist
                      l
                      LeRique RE: The Chemist Aug 2, 2010 01:08 PM

                      carswell, that was one of the greatest, to the point retorts ever!Thanks for your vigilence!

                      1. re: LeRique
                        hala RE: LeRique Aug 3, 2010 10:14 AM

                        agree!

                  2. k
                    kpaxonite RE: eatwell Aug 2, 2010 03:47 PM

                    'exorbitant prices'? Its 25 dollars for bavette frites at garde manger which is pretty much on par with other restaurants of that quality

                    1. carswell RE: eatwell Aug 2, 2010 07:32 PM

                      Purchased an 180 g bavette today from Boucherie Atlantique (a place not known for bargain prices). What'd it come to? Under $4. (If I recall correctly, $21 or $22 a kg.) Exorbitant? Hardly.

                      1. s
                        sixteenbiticon RE: eatwell Aug 4, 2010 04:02 PM

                        A quick question for you eatwell: Where did you see the menu posted for Garde Manger? At the restaurant itself? I'm curious as I just made reservations there for when we visit in a few weeks and am dying for some intel on their current menu offerings. Thanks!

                        BTW I love Hanger steak. At a recent BBQ I had a friend of mine picked some up at a very reputable butcher here and brought it over. It was already marinated we just threw it on the smoker and my friends decimated it. Wow. Beefy flavor to the max. Loved it.

                        1. m
                          mtlalex RE: eatwell Aug 16, 2010 10:09 AM

                          Great thread. And time to quote a classic article:

                          "Solving the Mystery of French Steak"

                          "I was immediately struck by its ropy, not-too-tender but not-too-tough texture and its strong, almost kidneyish flavor. This was not your generic slab of sirloin or rib-eye or pallid filet mignon."

                          http://partners.nytimes.com/library/d...

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: mtlalex
                            j
                            johnnyboy RE: mtlalex Aug 16, 2010 02:17 PM

                            Just adding to the chorus - I love bavette, it's essentially the only beef cut I buy to prepare at home, and it's not that expensive. I love it not because i want to pretend that i'm french, but because it tastes of something, unlike your grain-fed filet mignons or other expensive cuts, whose main appeal appears to be soft texture, at the detriment of actual taste. I'm not interested in cutting my meat with a spoon - don't know about you, but I own a few knives as well as a set of teeth, and I like to use them.

                            1. re: johnnyboy
                              SnackHappy RE: johnnyboy Aug 16, 2010 02:26 PM

                              I buy it often too, but in my case it's only so I can pretend to like it because I'm a wanabee Frenchy.

                              1. re: SnackHappy
                                e
                                eat2much RE: SnackHappy Aug 16, 2010 03:59 PM

                                I like to order it in restaurants but only because I enjoy overpaying for dog food in "see and be seen in" trendy spots.

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