I have written about this restaurant before but it’s worth another mention.
Last night we took Sande and Mary to Relais de Venise, better known to all as L’Entrecote. Every time Bryan and I go there, we are still amazed at the success of the very simple business concept: no menu, only one dish, no changes, no reservations, affordable, only women servers, French maid outfits, buzzy ambiance. It’s a concept that makes L’Entrecote so popular in Paris, Barcelona, and London that it has an entry on Wikipedia, and a long overdue New York location is opening this spring.
This is how it goes:
Most likely (unless you’re with early birds like us), you queue/line up outside. In London, they have heat lamps. You look through the window at happy diners swilling wine and eating a meal of steak frites you can already taste.
A pseudo-French woman will find your party a table. The servers- young, adorable, standoffish, will ask if you have been there before, explain the rules and then ask how you want your meat cooked.
First you get bread. Don’t ask for butter or olive oil. They will not give it to you. I have asked for butter all five times I have been there, in a futile attempt to find a chink in their armor.
Then you get a lettuce and walnut salad. It’s very good.
Then you get your steak l’entrecote(a type of cut/preparation) with the delicious greenish sauce on top that remains a much-discussed enigma. The most incredible fries on the side. Skinny, crisp, flavorful.
As you chew, swallow, talk, rinse and repeat- you may observe your plate is almost clean. And you might think, well that was good but I wish I had one last bite… nah in fact, I am full. And here’s the kicker (spoiler alert): out of nowhere, a sexy French maid appears before you with a tray and she is divvying out SECONDS. SECONDS!! I dare you to think of a restaurant that serves seconds, sans a buffet. This moment had us speechless the first time we went.
Then you are actually stuffed.
You can choose dessert off a menu. This, and wine, are the only aspects of choice at L’Entrecote.
After a while you finally get up because you feel guilty about the growing line outside. And if you don’t, a no-nonsense server will bring you your coat. This is what in the English language we call a hint.
When you walk outside, the queue is even longer. And you waddle home. If you’re as lucky as we are and you fortuitously live up the street. Otherwise you hail a cab or jump on the subway. Cars are for suburbanites and Los Angelenos. And god bless it, L’Entrecote doesn’t do those places.