Everyone seems to have their favourite Relais de Venise Son Entrecôte somewhere in the world. A French friend rates the one in Paris; a colleague swears by the one in Montreal and my dinner date has had a good business lunch or two at the one in London. So we arrived at the new edition in Bahrain with a good idea of what to expect. In short: steak. Yes, vegetarians take note: there is only one main dish on the menu here and it doesn’t have your name on it. The chain was launched in Paris in 1959 to cater to the tastes of that red-meat-loving nation and to do it well by sticking to a menu of salad, steak and frites. Clearly, given its global expansion, the formula works.
The Bahrain version of L’Entrecôte (as it is called by those who know it) in Seef’s trendy new boutiquey L’Hotel is marked by a Parisian-style red awning that protrudes from the hotel’s white facade. Inside, rather than the expected bistro style, there’s a slightly quirky carnival-esque vibe thanks to tablecloths in contrasting primary colours and large vibrant paintings, tamed slightly by wood panelling and waitresses in chic little black skirts with white aprons.
Drinks delivered, we were asked how we’d like our steak, and our orders were written on the table’s white paper overlay (so far, so French). Minutes later, a small plate of salad was placed in front of each of us: lightly dressed green leaves topped with walnuts. Although small, it was a delicious couple of mouthfuls thanks to a perfectly balanced French vinaigrette.
Then came the main event: a piece of strip loin topped with a creamy sauce and a pile of skinny French fries. Not a manly meat-eater myself, I rejoiced at the small piece of meat on my plate, but felt concern for my dining companion who has a heartier appetite. A seasoned ‘Entrecôter’, he said not to worry, and nodded at the sideboard where the other halves of our steaks were being kept warm. The meat was tender and the butter-based sauce with a touch of parsley delicious. My companion thought it just like the sauce he’d had in London, but he didn’t think that the steak was the most tender in town. He didn’t wave away the second portion, though. I did, having found the first more than sufficient, but still found room for a palate-cleansing mango sorbet, while my partner opted for the light thin-crusted lemon and apple tart. This is an excellent option for business lunches, where the only break in conversation comes when you savour a mouthful.
The bill (for two) 2x Steak (188g) & frites BD22 1x Mango sorbet BD2.2 1x Lemon & apple tart BD2.6 1x Diet coke 800fils 1x Small water 800fils Total (including service) BD32.66