Food review: Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote
Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote
IN A NUTSHELL
Should be a perfect marriage: cut-above steak and chips delivered in style - and quickly - in a French brasserie setting.
So if Gordon Ramsay were here, in my nightmare, bellowing about my failing rest- aurant, he would be saying that 53 items on the menu is not variety, it's lack of confidence, and how could I possibly produce deep impaled garlic butter snails with a lettuce foam and wild mushroom and venison stroganoff with a thyme brush tickle out of the same kitchen with the same clapped-out crew?
And I would be all like, "I'm just burnt out, chef" and "we're just haemorrhaging money. We can't afford to cook fresh."
And he'd yank me out of the walk-in where I'm hiding and shout: "You can't afford not to."
Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote has the confidence and brio of Paris so it's not like that. It's the opposite of that.
It does one thing, it does it well, it does it all the time and if you don't like the thing it does then (a) you had your taste buds numbed by too many Zoom ice lollies or (b) you should take up finger painting or whatever because there's not enough joy in your life.
(Note how I'm filling for time. None of that "my companion plumped for A while I sampled the natty little B" schtick. Let's face it, we had steak and chips. That's kinda the point.)
Here's the big idea, which has worked well in the City, worked well in New York and has now come to Canary Wharf.
One set menu, one price (£21), no reservations, all done and dusted in under an hour. But not fast food - steady food, consistent food, loved food.
It goes like this: a green salad with walnuts dressed with mustard vinaigrette followed by steak frites with a secret recipe sauce - served half now, half later so the frites stay crispy and the steaks stay hot.
Yes, there are bits and pieces around the edges - wine, or dessert and coffee - but essentially it's a take-it-or-leave-it deal. Vegetarians are catered for but nominally because "entrecote" is a premium cut of beef, dummy, so veggies only need Babelfish and a brain cell to get the message.
It's all about the steaks - British, grass-fed, mature, aged for four weeks before cooking - and nestling, between demi-courses, on candle-heated silver trays. And - wow - if red velvet cupcakes evolved into happy ruminants, their meat would taste like this.
Brisk doesn't mean unwelcoming. Take the setting - the French brasserie interiors with wood panels, banquette seating and jaunty paintings.
Best of all, the uniformed waitresses, giving a Downton Abbey feel - it's an incongruous through-the-looking-glass antidote to zombie Wharf.
So who comes here? We're guessing you wouldn't take a new client - you'd want reservations and clean cutlery between courses to impress.
But when Bob's down from the Bolton office and you have some leeway on the expenses and Bob doesn't get into town that often then Bob's in for a rare treat.
I envy Bob.
Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote, 18-20 Mackenzie Walk, 020 3475 3331, relaisdevenise.com