Anyone who is a steak lover will have noticed the current ‘steak frites’ trend that seems to have hit our city, with two new restaurant openings and one more to come, all specialising in this simple offering of steak and chips. Perhaps the most exciting of these, however, is the opening of Le Relais de l’Entrecôte, a branch of the original Parisian restaurant that first started this trend as early as 1959.
With branches in Paris, Geneva, London and New York, it was about time Hong Kong got its own branch. Although I have never been to any of the others, I have heard enough about them to know that I was desperate to try Hong Kong’s version.
In line with its original counterpart, Le Relais de l’Entrecôte Hong Kong, which has actually replaced one of my favourite French restaurants (Chez Patrick), is decked out like a casual French bistro, complete with brightly coloured tablecloths, vintage French posters and oak panelled red banquette seating, temporarily transporting you away from bustling Hong Kong to equally bustling Paris.
At l’Entrecôte there is no menu; whether you come for lunch or dinner, you will enjoy the same set menu of a simple salad followed by steak and chips, (lunch also includes dessert and tea or coffee). All you need to do is state how you would like your steak cooked.
The salad, though simple, is a delicious prelude to the meal proper. All it consists of is lettuce, walnuts and a light dressing, yet there needn’t be any more to it. I’m very particular about my dressings and often choose to go without, yet I loved this.
The sirloin steak comes doused in Le Relais de l’Entrecôte’s famous sauce that is known the world over. No one, other than the founding de Saurs family and kitchen teams of course, knows exactly what is in this sauce, but it has been rumoured to contain ingredients such as chicken liver, thyme, mustard and probably lots and lots of butter. Whatever is in it, it is delicious and you will no doubt enjoy mopping up every last bit of it with the accompanying homemade French fries. Fortunately, however, once you’re done with your first round of steak, chips and sauce, a waitress, dressed in traditional black and white uniform of course, comes round to give you a second serving. Admittedly it wasn’t the best steak I’d ever had, but it was simple, cooked just how I like it (medium-rare of course) and moreishly tasty.
Le Relais de l’Entrecôte has quite a number of desserts to choose from, as well as a cheese platter. It would have been impossible not to try the restaurant’s famous profiteroles, particularly after they came so highly recommended by the maître d’. Personally, I’m not always a fan of profiteroles, as I find the cream a little unnecessary. These, fortunately, were filled with ice cream, which was much more enjoyable, particularly when smothered in the molten chocolate sauce.
My favourite of the two desserts we tried was Le Vacherin d’été, an immense tower of meringue, vanilla ice cream, raspberry sorbet and raspberry coulis. Both the coulis and the sorbet were refreshingly tart, perfectly balancing the sweetness of the meringue.
The salad and steak set menu is priced at $288 per person. Between four of us, after adding on a bottle and a half of the house red wine from the founding de Saurs family’s own vineyard, plus our desserts, coffees and teas, the bill came to $550 each – not bad for a truly Parisian experience this side of Paris!
Note, Le Relais de l’Entrecôte does not take reservations; if it becomes anything like as popular as its Parisian counterpart, then you might want to arrive bang on opening time to guarantee yourself a table.
Le Relais de l’Entrecôte
222 Queen’s Road East
Tel: +852 2891 9080