Do you ever play the menu game, when you try to guess what your dining companion will order?
Being able to accurately predict what someone else will choose for any given meal is a sure sign you “get” them and that your connection is deeper than mere acquaintanceship.
People’s food preferences are incredibly revealing; there is no better ice breaker than questions along the lines of “what is your food heaven and hell?” or “What would you choose for your last meal on earth?” (NB: my heaven is pomegranates and hell is offal, and I’d die happy after a plate of spaghetti alla vongole, in case you wondered).
I never tire of learning about people’s unique food quirks: the buzzwords that are guaranteed to make a dish irresistible and others which are a total turn off (NB: the words “smoked” or “pickled” on a menu make it almost impossible for me to order anything else, whereas “polenta” is practically anathema).
But sometimes it is wonderful to remove the paradox of choice and let the food just come.
Le Relais de Venise, “L’Entrecôte” is the original one dish restaurant, with an extremely streamlined and offering of green salad and steak frites, served a la maison or not at all.
There is strictly no ordering off menu; even condiments are restricted to Dijon mustard.
L’Entrecôte’s menu is a Francophile’s delight: it starts with a simple green salad, every leaf coated with a punchy mustard vinaigrette and topped with walnuts.
Of course the real draw is the eponymous entrecôte steak accompanied by the famous green sauce, which remains a closely guarded secret recipe. The taste is hard to pin down but there is definitely copious amounts of butter, parsley, tarragon and possibly anchovies?
The only say you have in the proceedings is how you would like your steak cooked. Even then there are no half-measures; you may choose blue, rare, medium or well done – no medium rare allowed!
The steak is served sliced thinly with the green sauce spooned on top, plated up by the charming waiting staff who exude pure Gallic chic with their French maid inspired outfits, perfect chignons and red lipstick.
Cleverly, each portion is served in two helpings, so you always enjoy deliciously fresh, hot steak frites.
The wine list is simple, yet refined – you can’t go wrong with the house red, Le Relais de Venise.
Although the concept could be seen as strict and even spartan, the rich decadence of the sauce, the charming service and generous portions elevate L’Entrecôte to a fun and memorable experience.
Amusingly, after relinquishing control over the starters and mains, the many choices on the dessert menu stumped us. So our group ended up ordering a selection of classic French dishes to share.
Profiteroles with chocolate sauce…
A slightly mad meringue tower thing…
Selection of cheeses…
Limiting the choice of your diners is a brazen move which means that restaurants like L’Entrecôte must execute their chosen dish perfectly; there is no room to hide shoddy food and service. So if you fancy a classic French steak frites that won’t break the bank, L’Entrecôte is a smart place to head.
I was invited to dine at “L’Entrecôte” Canary Wharf which is currently offering guests discounts of 25% on lunch and dinner on weekdays and 30% discounts on weekends to celebrate Bastille Day, until the 31st July 2014.