The Lowdown on Le Relais de Venise - L'Entrecôte
- Excellent food and service
- Attractive, friendly, and relaxed surroundings
- Very good value for money
- Only one (meaty) main course choice-- vegetarians abstain
- Service feels rushed
- Long lines are common
Le Relais de Venise - L'Entrecote Practical Information
- Address: 271, Boulevard Pereire Sud, 17th arrondissement, Paris
- Metro: Porte Maillot
- Tel.: +33 (0)1 45 74 27 97
- Reservations: N/A
- Languages spoken: English spoken by most staff
- Payment Options: All major credit cards accepted
Review of Le Relais de Venise: Getting Settled in and the Fare
When you arrive at Porte Maillot-- an upscale neighborhood to the West of the Arc de Triomphe – you’ll recognize l’Entrecote by the line snaking around the corner of the Boulevard Pereire. Try to see the wait as part of the experience. This is an ideal spot for people-watching.
Once seated, you’ll it won’t be long before you’re asked how you’d like your meat prepared. This, and a selection from the wine list, is the only choice you’re getting for now.
Some minutes later, the warm and friendly staff arrive with a simple but well-dressed salad and a basket of bread. The mustard vinaigrette may still be piquing your palate when the steak comes fanned out on a plate and dressed with the aforementioned legendary sauce. It wouldn’t be Paris without frites (French fries), and these are served onto your plate until you say “when”. And unlike most restaurants in Paris, you can get the servers to bring seconds from the kitchen-- again, served fresh.
Hold on to your hats, choice freaks - here comes the difficult bit. Having gone through a meal without any thinking, or any breaks in the conversation, it’s time to make up your mind. Damn, the desert and cheese menu has a lot to offer. Having chosen the profiteroles, my eyes go a slight shade of green when my companion’s tarte au citron appears. I’m strangely displeased by the resurgence of choice in my life. Perhaps I should have passed on dessert.
A Saucy History
A little background on the restaurant's famous formula is in order. The story goes that in 1959, Paul Gineste de Saurs - a Toulousien with a vintner's training – bought himself an Italian restaurant in Paris's 17th arrondissement. He decided to keep the name, Le Relais de Venise, and to retain the Venetian décor, but to Frenchify the menu. It was here that the secret sauce was conceived, as an alternative to the classic Roquefort or pepper sauces favored by other Parisian restaurants. According to the restaurant's website, the sauce contains “various herbs, spices and condiments”, which seems pretty self-evident. Suffice to say it is truly delicious and unique. Vaguely reminiscent of pesto, if I were to approximate, but my advice is to taste it yourself.
The secret is now in the hands of Hélène Godillot, the daughter to whom de Saurs handed over responsibility for the restaurant. The success of the Porte Maillot establishment has been repeated with openings in London, Barcelona, and New York.