Le Relais de l’Entrecôte, the iconic Parisian bistro, opened its doors on the very stylish Boulevard, Downtown Dubai on Wednesday 14th January.
Relais roughly translates to a small retreat that you might be stopping over at when on a road trip, and entrecote is the French word for a boned steak cut off the sirloin.
Le Relais de l’Entrecôte’s unique concept and quality cuisine go way back to 1959, when the descendant of a winemaking dynasty in the south of France, Paul Gineste de Saurs, decided to only serve steak and fries at the restaurant.
With people still lining out the door at its original Parisian location, the popular restaurant has since opened outposts in several other cities including Geneva, Hong Kong, Doha, Riyadh, Bahrain, Beirut, Kuwait, and now Dubai.
The branch in Doha was recently featured in the Guinness Book of Records for serving the biggest crowd in one night; a total of 480 very keen Parisian steak fans!
How often have you dined at a restaurant that only has one option for the mains? It’s brings to mind Henry Ford’s statement “You can have any color you like, as long as it is black”. I think this is the epitome of confidence in a dish. Le Relais de l’Entrecôte have been serving the same dish of steak and fries with their signature sauce for 56 years and still manage to draw in the crowds.
The French are very particular about their sauce. If you are an avid ‘My Kitchen Rules’ fan, you know how finicky Manu is about his sauce: ‘Where’s the sauce?’ has become his quote of quotes!
Le Relais de l’Entrecôte’s secret sauce recipe is top secret, and only two elderly Parisian ladies know the details. The sauce is imported from France.
Interestingly, so is everything else at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte. All the fixtures, the cutlery and even the store tiling have all been imported directly from France.
We visited Le Relais de l’Entrecôte last week. You have the option of sitting out on the terrace and take advantage of the beautiful weather and stunning views of the Boulevard, but all the seats were taken and we were escorted indoors.
The interiors are cheerfully Parisian with the colorful tablecloths in red, blue and yellow (a quirky twist to the brand’s patriotic hues). The waitresses look very chic in their maître d’ style black and white outfits complete with a frilly apron.
An order of the mains includes a generous serving of French bread and butter, a delicious green salad with walnuts, and two helpings of the signature steak and fries for AED 130 per person.
They also have a children’s option with a smaller steak serving for AED 70 which includes a fresh juice.
We were served a plate of bread along with whipped butter for starters along with their famous green salad.
The homemade mustard vinaigrette used in the salad was divine! I cleaned up my plate in no time. The walnuts added the perfect amount of crunch.
For drinks, we ordered glasses of fresh orange and strawberry juices. These are definitely not the bottled variety, and tasted fresh and rejuvenating.
My hyper toddler was kept preoccupied with a bucket of crayons and a scribbling pad. She also got rewarded a balloon when she finished her meal. Le Relais de l’Entrecôte is definitely a family-friendly destination.
And then came their signature steak and fries. Le Relais de l’Entrecôte steaks are premium Silver Fern Farms New Zealand beef.
For the mains, you actually have three choices; you can have your steak rare, medium rare or well-done. I went for medium rare, and mine was cooked to perfection. It was just the right shade of pink on the inside, and the outer layer was grilled a succulent deep brown.
The steak is cut into strips, and is drowning in the Le Relais de l’Entrecôte signature green sauce. You really need to taste this sauce to understand why it is such a rave. It has a delicious hint of butter, a freshness of parsley and other secret herbs, and just a dash of lemon tartness. I could have this sauce all on its own, and was very tempted to lick the plate!
The sauce has to be served at just the right temperature, so the complete dish is warmed over tea-lights before it is brought to the table.
My hubby is an ardent potato fan, and he actually said the Le Relais de l’Entrecôte fries were the best he’s ever had. They don’t use frozen fries, but cook freshly bought organic potatoes that go through a special process of de-starching before they are deep fried to a crunchy golden brown. The fries have the distinctive earthy taste of fresh potatoes, and best of all, they lack any greasy aftertaste.
You also get a cute little pot of Dijon mustard on the table, and we found this enhances the overall taste of the meal even further.
If you are a regular at steak-houses around the UAE, you might be a tad bit disappointed when you first see your portion size. The serving size looks petit in comparison to many a carnivorous feast. However, remember you get served twice. The reason behind this is that the staff want to ensure the sauce is served at just the right temperature throughout the meal.
Then came desserts. No one does desserts like the French, and isn’t it ironic that Le Relais de l’Entrecôte serves only one kind of main, but has a thick menu of options for dessert?
The most ordered dessert on the menu is the Le Relais de Venise Vacherin. This is a decadent tower of berry sorbet, vanilla ice-cream and very French, crunchy sweet macaroons. It comes in a chocolate variation as well, but I went for the berry.
If you think this image is drool-worthy, let me tell you it tastes even better! Here’s my tower broken down for you to inspect further…
The sorbet was berryliciously good! Cool yet creamy, and loaded with full-on berry flavor. The subtle sweetness of the freshly made vanilla ice-cream married in well with the berry tartness, and the crunch of the macaroon made it a delight to spoon into.
We also ordered the perfectly Parisian profiteroles. If you are a lover of all things decadently dark chocolate, this is definitely your go-to dessert. Given the Vacherin was a fruity treat, the depth of the dark chocolate sauce that flooded the plate of profiteroles had our sweet-tooth cravings satiated to the fullest.
We ordered strawberry ice-cream for my daughter, but when she saw how pretty our orders were, it was hard keeping her spoon off our share! I finally had to help her finish her ice-cream. Sure it was overshadowed by the Vacherin and profiteroles, but as an ice-cream it tasted lovely, a perfect spoonful of strawberry and cream.
Talking of cream, all Le Relais de l’Entrecôte desserts are served with generous dollops of Elle & Vire whipped cream, another French icon.
The list of fine steak-houses in the UAE is endless. However, Le Relais de l’Entrecôte is a unique concept in itself. Their iconic secret sauce continues to elude the taste-buds of millions, and the marked simplicity and French flair of Le Relais makes it a must-try for every foodie worth their steak! And did I mention their desserts are to die for?!
Le Relais de l’Entrecôte is located on the Boulevard, Downtown Dubai and is open daily from 12:30 to 23:30. Bon appetit!