Entrecôte Café de Paris
One-dish restaurant specialises in steak in Juffair 2 Reviews
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The concept of the Entrecôte Café de Paris chain was born in Geneva in 1930 when Madame Boubier (or by some accounts her husband), owner of the original restaurant, developed a sauce to accompany the faux fillet steak – OK yeah, I had to check this out too, it’s the cut on the opposite side of the bone from the fillet or tenderloin.
Like superbrands KFC and Coke, the recipe for that sauce remains secret to this day, known only to François Vouillamoz, current owner of the Geneva restaurant which is now franchised around the world – the Relaise de Venise L’Entrecôte seems to be a different entity.
Suffice to say the idea proved popular, Madame Boubier began serving one simple dish – green salad, steak and French fries – and the idea really took off.
The sauce itself is definitely butter based and there’s clearly Dijon mustard, some sources say there are minced chicken livers, fresh thyme and thyme flowers – it’s certainly more than just butter and mustard but, of course, no-one can say for sure which, for me, adds to the attraction.
The Entrecôte in Juffair only opened a couple of months ago and, to be honest, half the people I spoke to didn’t even know it was there so it was unsurprising, but a little disappointing, to have the place virtually to ourselves.
That said, the lack of other diners did mean we got excellent service – no table hovering, which can be so off putting, but someone there when we needed them with plenty of offers of French-fry refills, as demanded with the Entrecôte brand.
On arrival we were offered a drink on the house, a nice way of making guests feel welcome and a good introduction to the French on the menu. And in a quirky touch, cooking instructions for our steaks were written on the table cloth, ensuring you always get what you ordered.
The salad with mustard vinaigrette was exactly as advertised, tasty, crunchy and fresh – not easy given that almost all produce is imported and so often a good salad is impaired with the addition of slightly wilting leaves or the odd browning stalk.
For steaks, there was a choice of either Australian grain-fed Angus or New Zealand grass-fed. The Aussie meat was described as marbled, which I took to mean slightly fattier. My companion went for this option while I chose the New Zealand.
In fact both cuts, served strip-style over a burner at the table, were excellent. If anything the Aussie version was slightly tastier – maybe there’s something to be said for that little bit of extra meat on the bones.
The sauce was plentiful and aromatic, bubbling away on the burner, and despite the rich ingredients, it was a perfect accompaniment rather than overpowering the meat.
And of course the authentic French French fries – stick thin and almost crunchy – just kept coming, irresistible but not so great if, like me, you’re still trying to shift those post-Christmas kilos.
The one place Entrecôte does offer variety is on the desert menu and it’s also the one area in which I have a little moan.
My companion chose the chocolate fondant, which the waitress dutifully informed us would take about 20 minutes. We agreed and it was worth the wait, delicate deep choc sponge filled with warm chocolate sauce mmm.
But for me, if there is crème brulee on the menu, then there is no choice. Described as ‘one of France’s great contributions to eating pleasure’ it’s one of my absolute favourite dishes and I am ever in search of the perfect version, which I’ve not found since the demise of the old Krumz restaurant in Adliya almost three years ago.
A good one should be the consistency of double cream, freckled with black dashes of vanilla pod and topped with the delicious burnt sugar which gives the dish its name.
Unfortunately this one was slightly grainy, suggesting over cooking, and seemed to be missing the vanilla pods altogether. Certainly not unpleasant, it was more reminiscent of an eggy custard with a topping not quite set enough to deserve the brulee name.
All in all though, that one blip aside, the food was thoroughly enjoyable and the service excellent.
The décor sticks to the bistro style, also borrowed from the Geneva original and though, for me, the venue is a bit too large to pull this off I’m sure that with a few more diners and someone to change the music (we heard the same songs four or five times during dinner) this could be a charming evening eatery.
As an added bonus there’s even a loyalty scheme – on your first visit you’ll be given a stamped card which entitles you to 10 per cent off your second trip, 15 per cent the third time you go and a free meal on your fourth visit.
The bill (for two)
New Zealand beef BD9.500
Australian Angus beef BD13.500
Extra salad BD2.500
Fondant chocolate BD3.500
Crème brulee BD2.400
Perrier water BD1.500
Time Out Bahrain,
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