If I were a Zagat guide, cobbled together with snappy one-liners from
sub-editors diners, I might use some of these to describe ‘Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote’, or The Entrecote as I’ve always called it. This is that place where the only meal is a Parisian walnut and mixed leaf salad, drowned in mustard gloop, and then steak and chips. And the gimmick is that; there’s no menu and you’re only asked how you like your steak. Then of course, there’s the irony of a compendious dessert offering. And it seems to be a love-hate place.
So, to declare early, I’m in the ‘love’ camp. The salad I’m not bothered about, but I think the steak frites are great. Nice rare slices of bavette/onglet, drenched in a mystery sauce which is more like chip shop/Chinese curry sauce than anything French I can discern. And completely inundated with hot, crunchy fries, some of the best around. If you like chips, this is the place for you.
Especially if you’re a vegetarian, where the menu on offer is the same, but with extra chips and no steak, and dessert thrown in. The sadist in me loves the lack of concession there.
The venue itself is a pastiche of a Parisian bistro - even though it started in Paris, it’s still a cliché. I’m not sure about the ‘Venise’ element except for the rather horrendously ugly artwork of Venetian scenes which pollutes the walls like 360 degree projectile vomit. I think smoky mirrors and old French adverts might have been a bit better.
Service is efficient verging on strict, but you get what you need and the whole process is expertly juggled. The maid-uniformed waitresses are experts at serving up the two servings of steak, frites and sauce with their masterful spoon/fork tonging, and are coquettish enough to exonerate a touch of attitude.
Desserts are fine, probably pre-made and frozen but nobody cares. The house wine is drinkable and the atmosphere is quite upbeat. There are hordes of tourists, rich ex-pats with spoilt children and all sorts of other people you might only mix with in airports, but it’s all pretty harmonious. And it never fails to deliver, as the frequent queues attest.
Food – 8/10
Drink – 7/10
Service - 6/10
Value – 7/10 (salad & steak is £21 but the bill can creep up with booze)
Tap water tales – 6/10
Staff Hotness – 8/10