When in Paris ..... Le Relais de Venise

After our Roland Garros adventure (see here), we were in the mood for a nice Parisian dinner before setting off for Provence early the next day. So, at my brother’s recommendation, we went to a restaurant called Le Relais de Venise just down the street from his apartment in the 17th arrondissement (a couple of blocks away from the Arc de Triomphe).

We arrived at the restaurant just before seven and it looked real promising - all French bistro charm, including the tables on the sidewalk. So far so good. Considering that the French typically don’t eat before 21:30 in the evening, to arrive at 6:45pm (we had been warned!) with the sun still blazing and to find a long queue already forming outside the restaurant was quite unusual. None of the restaurants around had any customers yet.

At seven the doors opened and the restaurant immediately filled up. We had been seated for – maybe – a minute when the waitress came to our table and said: “Bonsoir, how would you like your meat?” And THAT is what makes this Paris institution so different. There is only one item on the menu!!! An entrecote (rib-eye steak) served with chips and a secret green sauce. That’s all. No long list of entrees, no chef’s special of the day, in fact no menu. Just: so, how would you like your meat?

The service started with a salad with walnuts and horseradish vinaigrette (also no choice here), and by the time you have finished it, the meat is served from a communal platter that is set to rest above votive candles on stations near each group of tables. It is served with frites (lots of it!) and a green looking secret herb-butter sauce. Many newspapers and food critics have speculated about the ingredients in this sauce, but what even I can tell you, is that it has butter, butter and more butter!!

The dessert list is a bit more extensive (an actual menu!) and it seems that the most popular option is a meringue and hazelnut ice cream tower!

Now, this is not the best steak I’ve ever had. And the service is fast, maybe a bit too fast. But, the typical French brasserie look of the restaurant, the waitresses in their black uniforms with white aprons, the noise and aromas around you, the mob outside waiting for their turn, it all adds up to make your evening at Le Relais de Venise fantastic, if admittedly a bit surreal!

The restaurant opened new branches in New York, London and a few other venues. It even has a very interesting Wikipedia page with the history of the restaurant. You can read it here. To visit their website click here.

Image credits: All photography by me

1 comment:

  1. This Restaurant is amazing, I don't know many restaurants in the world that can survive and make a such a big success with only one dish at their menu. The key is the perfection, everything in this restaurant is perfect, the salad, the steak (not the best I agree but cooked perfect), the fries and many of the desserts. However I think the this that made this restaurant to what it is, it's the butter sauce.

    The ice cream tower is not the best dessert, it's the Potiforoles (hopefully spelled it right ;))

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