This is an updated review from one I wrote in 2006, as we always go a few times a year. The only difference these days is there is no smoking inside anymore. Also of note: The Relais de l'Entrecote is a chain with four restaurants in the Paris and one in Geneva, Switzerland. We prefer the one in Saint-Germain at 20 Rue Saint-Benoît. We never make reservations, there's usually only a short line to be seated. I don't know if they even take reservations.
Before deciding on going to a steakhouse in France, it's important to know that the French entrecote is really the eye of the rib--but French cattle are bred differently and all French beef (this IS a big beef-eating country) are different than in the USA. You are not going to get an oversized, aged piece of USDA Prime meat--French beef is not as fatty, nor do the French eat gargantuan portions like in American steak houses.
But, if you want a great French entrecote, the Relais IS the place. No restaurant is simpler. You'll only have a few choices to make as there is only item on the menu:
1. How do you want your meat cooked? Seignant (rare) or a point (medium)?
2.. What do you want to drink? Their house (rouge) red is terrific--you can order a half or whole bottle--and of course water--bottled, gassed, or tap water.
3. Would you like dessert--if you don't read French, stop in the front of the restaurant and peruse their desserts before you sit down to dinner--they are wonderful.
4. And finally, do you want coffee or something after dinner?
One caveat, unlike most French restaurants, this is a fast-paced place. As soon as one is seated, a very efficient waitress will bring you a salad, a basket of bread, and a wine menu. She will ask you how you want your meat...and then all you do is sit back and enjoy the repast. Your inch-thick steak will be sliced vertically, and covered in a light dijon sauce. There will be a spicy Dijon mustard available along with salt and pepper for condiments. You will be served hot, freshly cut French fries..and when your plate is empty, your server will replenish your fries and steak from the serving dish which is kept warm near your table.
It's not fancy, but it is fun, and particularly good for taking a family including those with limited palates.
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