The entrecote with its secret sauce - one half of what you would eventually get (photo by Krista)
Seeking out a place to have lunch is always a tricky business at Canary Wharf. It is not for the lack of choice but too much of it - if we take out all the eating or food places within 200m of One Canada Square (that's the tall pointed building right in the middle), you would probably end up with just Boots.
For that reason, I like Le Relais de Venise, simply because it offers no choices. One menu is all you get and the only thing that you have to worry about is whether you want your steak blue, rare, medium or well done (I was told quite bluntly that they don't do medium-rare). Once the choice is made, the waitress scribbles it on the paper tablecloth according to the seating arrangement - they even did away with a writing pad.
Tucked in a tight corner of the wharf area, Le Relais de Venise has a rather sparten interior for what it is. Neither does it have any views to speak of. Not that its customers mind to be honest because they come for one thing and one thing only - its tender entrecote steak. That and its secret sauce. So closely guarded is its recipe that the kichen refused to even let a pregnant acquaintance of mine know whether it contains unpasturised dairy products when asked (she had the sauce anyway).
After confirming how long you want your steak to spend on the stove, the starter is the only thing that stands between you and your entrecote steak. Greens with mustard vinaigrette and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts is served.
One annoying thing about having steaks is that the meat starts to harden as the temperture drops. I would often find myself struggling to have a decent conversation without letting my steak goes cold on me. Le Relais de Venise solves this by serving its entrecote steak on a pre-heated plate ("Careful, it's hot," I was warned.) and in two batches.
So what you have is half a steak (sliced into bite size) and a healthy serving of frites. It is said on the website that the frites are cut onsite into size exactly like those acriss the Channel. Deep fried with just the right stiffness but still retain a certain fluffiness within; They are the once-you-start-you-can't-stop kind of good.
My medium entrecote with the ever so slightest pink in its centre is marvallous. The cut of meat between the ribs is impossibly tender, the knife handcrafted in France sliced through it effortlessly. Why would one resort to veal I do not know. The creamy sauce has a certain grit with a hint of spice in it. It has a full bodied flavour and doesn't come across as overwhelmingly salty, which is more than I can say for some steakhouses.
The funny thing is that you can't quite remember that there is a second serving after you are done. Unless you made the rookie mistake of stuffing yourself with the bread (which is really nothing to shout about), you would be more than ready for the second helping. This time round, it gets a bit messy - the remaining of your steak is unceremoniously chucked onto your used plate and frites shovelled in until you say when. I guess the £23 price tag doesn't warrant another clean plate.
As if to keep up with appearances, Le Relais de Venise has a vegetarian option as well. Instead of entrecote, you get a selection of cheese. All at the same price. Seriously? That is what happens to vegetarians in a steakhouse.
The lack of choice is an obvious reason why Le Relais de Venise is not for everyone. That said, it is an easy place to eat in and the service is prompt. Sometimes that is all we look for after a stressful day at work.
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Tuesday, 6 August 2013
Le Relais de Venise entrecote (Canary Wharf) - no fuss menu