Photography by Chris Osburn
For the second in our Best Chips series, we consider the French take on fried and chipped potato pieces. In the case of Relais de Venise L'Entrecote, these tasty bits are made of Bintje potatoes from France that are hand chipped daily on the premises using a bespoke chipper to ensure a signature 7mm thin slice of yumminess.
With two London locations - 5 Throgmorton Street (EC2N 2AD) in the City and 120 Marylebone Lane (W1U 2QG), Relais de Venise is a Parisian born phenomenon. Its original Paris bistro opened in 1959 by Paul Gineste de Saurs, who merely sought a place to serve his family's Château de Saurs wines. Opting for an especially short and traditional bistro menu of a simple salad (lettuce, walnuts and potent mustard vinaigrette), steak-frites with a butter-based secret recipe sauce of herbs, spices and condiments along with a few particularly moreish desserts (save room for the profiteroles!), the no nonsense bistro soon won fans for its quality over variety dining experience. It also won a reputation for its strict no reservations policy. Legend tells of married couples meeting on queue and of people securing their next job while waiting for their Frenchy meat and potatoes chow down.
Based on our lunch at the Marylebone Lane Relais (but without yet having the pleasure of visiting the flagship in Paris), we reckon the food's worth a bit of a wait. The flavoursome frites are out of this world, and the much speculated upon but never revealed secret sauce is a most delectable accompaniment. Here in London, the bistros serve Donald Russell steaks from Aberdeenshire beef (supplier to HM The Queen) for their entrecote steak (which they'll even serve blue).
An order of salad and main course is priced at £20 per person and yields a more than ample amount of food. Puds cost around £5. A glass of house red is £4.25. Vegetarians are welcome, and as a substitute for the steak a selection of cheeses is offered and a dessert is included for the same price of £20. Service is perfunctory and fast. Visit Relais de Venise L'Entrecote online at www.relaisdevenise.com.