Le Relais de L’Entrecôte
Steak and chips specialist opens in Dubai Festival City 11 Reviews
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Dubai is a city of plenty, which may explain why so many of its ‘international’ restaurants attempt to offer something for everyone on their menus. Very few succeed and instead render themselves as jack-of-all trades establishments where no dish truly excels. This attitude makes an entrecôte restaurant all the more appealing in a city such as ours. These restaurants don’t just specialise in one cuisine, but one dish: steak and fries.
Granted, I’m oversimplifying the tradition of l’entrecôte, which originated in France in the ’30s. Yet this simple concept is certainly a welcome arrival in Festival City, which is fast reinventing itself as one of Dubai’s premier culinary destinations (Jamie’s Italian and Hard Rock Café are scheduled to open this year). Situated on Marina Festival Walk, opposite the InterContinental, Le Relais de L’Entrecôte is a classic French bistro – inside it’s all, brass fittings, frosted glass windows, colourful tablecloths, dark-wood furniture and classic French advertisements framed on the walls. It’s the outside seating area, however, that really evokes the Parisian feel, though views of the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine are substituted for the creek and glittering Khalifa in the distance.
On our visit, my date and I were greeted by a pleasant waitress with a sing-song voice who offered us a drink. As much as a glass of red would have been a perfect way to start the evening, Le Relais was not yet licensed when we visited, though we were assured it would be in a matter of days. We settled for a Perrier each and allowed our hostess to further explain the concept of entrecôte: the steak is coated in a unique butter-based sauce, the recipe for which has traditionally been privy only to the Gineste de Saurs family, who founded Paris’s most famed entrecôte restaurants. Incidentally, it was one of the daughters of Paul Gineste de Saurs who founded this very restaurant in Dubai. Once diners polish off their steak and fries, they’re served seconds and then, if the appetite still persists, more fries still.
At Le Relais, the main course is preceded by a simple salad consisting only of lettuce leaves coated in a light Dijon sauce. While this didn’t look much when it was placed in front of us, the simple combination proved delicious and piqued our palates without filling us in slightest.
As with the starter, the entrecôte main didn’t look entirely appetising either – a small serving of steak covered in what looked to be some sort of pesto sauce, accompanied by a generous helping of golden (if not slightly dry-looking) French fries. I was also surprised (perhaps because I’m not overly familiar with entrecôte) that the main was served on a small, nondescript platter and was to be eaten without a steak knife. My surprise turned to delight when the dull blade I was given sliced effortlessly into the perfectly cooked cut of meat, which was complemented wonderfully by the butter-based sauce. Similarly, my initial misgivings about the fries were dispelled by their crisp texture and full taste. So simple, so effective, and so much – after polishing off the steak and the lion’s share of the fries, our waitress arrived with second helpings. As full as we were, it was impossible not to finish the contents of our plate just as quickly as before.
Our watchful waitress refused to acknowledge that we were done for the night, and insisted that we at least try a dessert. After having only one option for our main course, we were overwhelmed by the wealth of dessert choices. Still, we were in no position to refuse her charms, nor the temptations of profiteroles doused in thick chocolate sauce, or raspberry sorbet served with fresh raspberries– an indulgent, wholly unnecessary but excellent crescendo to the meal.
As good as it was, the meal could have been improved had the restaurant managed to secure its licence. If and when this happens, Le Relais may offer one of the best meals there is to be had this side of Garhoud Bridge. But the real litmus test will be whether the quality lasts once the French franchise owners return home. If what we experienced is anything to go by, the signs look good and Festival City could well have a jewel in its culinary crown to rival even the imminent arrival of Jamie’s Italian.
The bill (for two)
2x Entrecôte and fries Dhs250
1x Chocolate profiteroles Dhs38
1x Raspberry sorbet Dhs36
2x Perrier Dhs24
Total (including 10 per cent service) Dhs348
Time Out Dubai,
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