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Dec 3, 2010 06:13 AM

Paris - Foie Gras - Steak Frites

Hey there,

my first post but I've read a number of excellent reviews before to wanted to add a specific question.

Going to Paris for a quick Valentine's break (tres fromage, je sais) ... and looking at where to eat.

We have two nights so was thinking of some French classics while we are there. Steak Frites one night - and as much Foie Gras as we can get the second night. (three courses out of 6 at the Belle Rives in Juan Les Pins for example were Foie Gras based).

I am looking for recommendations for either of the above. My girlfriend and I have done quite a few tasting menus in the UK (Galvin at the Windows, Maze, Atelier, Waterside Inn etc...) so open to that route - but as we can do them pretty much anywhere wanted to throw out a question about these specific 'elements'.


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  1. Have you already done some search here?

    Steak-frites just like foie gras are being discussed pretty regularly here on this board.
    A sure bet is La Rotonde, for both IMO.

    Some other suggestions for steak-frites:

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dodo

      Les Gourmets des Ternes would still be my top choice, but you need to be really hungry. Their best steak, with a slab of Foie Gras Maison, could feed two. Slightly more expensive than La Rotonde (58 vs 50 Euros).

    2. Foie Gras, chaud au froid ?
      Steak Frites- L'Ami Jean, L'Ami Louis, Le Grand Pan, Chez Denise

      6 Replies
        1. re: JonVortex

          Chez L'ami Jean, where an entire lobe comes out flaming, the size of a football. Perfectly roasted.

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            DCM, didn't we have a slab of mi cuit poëlé at our marbelous messy lunch there.
            We also had foie gras for pre-starter, foie gras for starter, foie gras for in-betweener, foie gras for main, foie gras for sub-main, foie gras for next in-betweener.
            I remember even the tables and chairs were made of foie gras there.

            1. re: Parigi

              What do you know, you were covered with duck blood. No we did not have the football, that was when we were made to feel our menus were a useless appendage.

            2. re: Delucacheesemonger

              what's the tarriff for that indulgence?

              1. re: jock

                As of 11/10 it was 80 euros, served four easily.

        2. Real steak-frites isn't just a great piece of steak with good frites. It is a homogeneous dish in which the steak and the fries should interact and harmonize together. A sauce does help. I know only one place in Paris where this landmark dish is really done the right way: L'Entrecôte/Le Relais de Venise, at Porte Maillot.

          All the other places may serve the most perfect steak or côte de bœuf with outstanding frites, but that won't be steak-frites.

          19 Replies
          1. re: Ptipois

            Really Pti? Severo bis doesn't make the cut?

            1. re: John Talbott

              It is not a matter of quality. I am talking about cuisine, not food. Steak-frites is a recipe in which the three elements - steak, sauce, fries - create a harmony that makes the dish. That is specifically French and L'Entrecôte is (AFAIK) the only place left that does it right. A côte de bœuf with French fries, however perfect, is not necessarily steak-frites.

              I love both equally but they are not the same dish.

            2. re: Ptipois

              Interesting. Le Relais at Porte Maillot should be a mandatory Paris experience, but it is too formulaic for me. The steak reminded me of those that I had eaten in the US, prepped with tenderizer, the fries were cold. The secret sauce? An ersatz Bearnaise? Seconds seemed gratuitous and dessert perfunctory.

              When I think of steak frites, I recall those that we've enjoyed at village cafes. Usually a properly cooked if chewy steak with sometimes extraordinary frites. Of course, I swear that the quality of frites depends on the mere seconds from fryer/strainer and plate. Time is not friendly.

              1. re: mangeur

                Manguer - you must have been unlucky. I stayed at Le Meridian Hotel just around the corner for a couple of months when I was moving to Paris, and therefore I ate at Le Relais numerous times. We never had a bad meal, frites always hot, decent steak and a very enjoyable sauce. Nice cheap wine and generous desserts. The place is packed, tables turn quickly and service is matches the style of the place i.e good value and not a place for lingering.

                1. re: PhilD

                  I second that. For decades, I never had a bad experience at Le Relais de Venise. It is really one of my favorite restaurants. When I take someone there I know everyone will be perfectly happy. One of the safest addresses I know of. And I love those silly desserts.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    We ate there several times. The problem is probably not with the house but with us.

                  2. re: mangeur

                    I'm with you on that - I think the more traditional steak frites dish (still served in towns and villages across France) is/was frites with a thin piece of onglet or bavette, usually cooked perfectly and generally tender enough (for us Europeans anyway). I have never thought of it as being a more expensive cut like entrecote or faux fillet nor do I expect it to be served with a sauce. Are times changing? I have found "village cafe steak frites" harder to get these days, even in rural France - it seems that Entrecote is served more often.

                    1. re: Theresa

                      Maybe Ptipois can answer this.

                      I wonder if the "traditional steak frites (still served in towns in villages across France)" i.e. without sauce is in fact a non-traditional dish with bars and bistros dropping the sauce in order to simplify the dish and produce it more economically (the sauce probably went at the same time the frites came out of the freezer)?

                      Thus the collective memory actually memory has reset expectation of the dish based on a modern (economic) interpretation whilst the true qualities of the dish are lost.

                      I personally find simple chips and steak quite boring and would be disappointed not to have a sauce to integrate the dish - even a simple compound butter will do.

                      1. re: PhilD

                        Many if not most of the village places I'm thinking of do offer a sauce, usually a choice of several. Shallot, red wine and roquefort are ones that come immediately to mind. I don't often eat steak, so If the meat has good flavor and is properly cooked, I rather enjoy it on its own.

                        It's interesting. Most of these little places, often dives, offer three things: a plat du jour, a house specialty with regional roots and steak frites. Hard to go wrong.

                        1. re: PhilD

                          There's really not enough philosophy or semiotics on these boards. As it's Christmas, I'm going to take the opportunity that this thread offers to add this:

                          "Just as wine becomes for a good number of intellectuals a mediumistic substance which leads them towards the original strength of nature, steak is for them a redeeming food, thanks to which they bring their intellectualism to the level of prose and exorcise, through blood and soft pulp, the sterile dryness of which they are constantly accused."

                          “la frite est nostalgique et patriote”

                          Roland Barthes.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              Yeah! And I bet you don't know what "mediumistic" means.

                              1. re: vielleanglaise

                                OK let's say mediumistic was the only thing I did not know the meaning of.

                            2. re: vielleanglaise

                              It is quite true that a good steak-frites is beneficial to the intellectual activity; to all sort of activity I believe, hence its traditional status as the ultimate worker's (intellectual or manual) dish in France.
                              I understand "mediumistic" (wonder what the french term was) as food serving as a medium, the eaten transmitting its essence to the eater, as in China where eating snake will help you being faster in everything.
                              I am not sure Roro was spot on about frites, though. La frite est céleste et universelle. It is not typically French. It is also Belgian and Greek. Situationnist writer Yves Le Manac'h wrote back in the 70s that "la frite est bretonne", with convincing historical sources to prove his point.

                            3. re: PhilD

                              Yes, many offer a sauce, but I think in the past it was more usual to find places serving steak frites without sauce and with a cheaper cut of beef - I find it difficult to find places which do this now. I really love plain steak and frites with a salad - when the steak tastes great, I don't think it needs anything else.

                              1. re: PhilD

                                The answer is simple: steak-frites is traditional whether you find it in its simple, everyday popular aspect (the sliver of bavette, faux-filet, poire, merlan, araignée, etc., served on a lettuce leaf and frites on the side) or in the more elaborate "cuisiné" form (such as is served at L'Entrecôte) with the sauce and thin fries that make it a true landmark of cuisine française. They are actually two versions of the same dish, in two social levels of preparation. Both are equally traditional and (as far as I know) can be traced to the late 19th century.
                                Two remarks:
                                - The more plebeian, corner-café "steak-frites" often has a simpler version of the sauce in the form of a slice of "beurre maître d'hôtel" or "beurre café de Paris" (the latter more common in Switzerland) placed on the steak just before serving and melting there while you're eating it. The more elaborate version has a whipped, warmed version of the butter served as the sauce. The "secret sauce" at L'Entrecôte is a refined version of "beurre café de Paris" and clearly puts the dish in the category of steak-frites. So, to answer your question, I think nobody dropped the sauce but there are two versions of the dish, a bourgeoise one and a proletarian one.
                                - Le Relais de l'Entrecôte serves noix d'entrecôte, not entrecôte. Entrecôte is the whole rib steak cut which is called côte de bœuf when the bone is still in, and the noix is the defatted, pared version, which technically puts the cut in the "bifteck" category. So, in spite of the name of the restaurant, there's a definite difference between the cut of meat served there and entrecôte properly speaking.
                                You will never be served an entrecôte with frites as "steak-frites". On the menu it will read "entrecôte-frites". Same with "côte de bœuf". Steak-frites is more definite than it seems.

                                1. re: Ptipois

                                  That's really interesting - thanks!

                          1. re: Ptipois

                            Pti, you need to revisit Gourmet des Ternes then. When?

                          2. I've not been there, but Lebey's Guide "Where to eat What" talks about Beaujolais d'Auteuil in the 16th for the top Steack Frites to be had in Paris...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: menton1

                              I did not do well there shortly after it opened.

                            2. I do also recommend le Relais de Venice at Porte Maillot. Have been going there for over a quarter century. As the matter of fact, we were in New York last week and we had dinnner for 3 nights straight at their NY location.