Sitting in the bar at the Marylebone Hotel, we noticed a long line of people lining up in front of a restaurant. Now this wouldn’t be unexpected but the time was 930pm. The next night we were in the bar again, same scenario, long line, 930pm. This got us intrigued. As I needed to get some washing done I decided see what the fuss was about on my way back to the hotel. The restaurant was called Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote, a little Googling on the Ipad got us some more information on it so we decided to go.

Despite having a good lunch at Bread Street Kitchen we decided to go out for dinner. Thinking the restaurant would open at 600pm we walked over at 610 to find they were closed and the queue had started and we were the the fourth group along. Just before opening we found out that some of the groups ahead of us rotate who stands in line while others go to the pub across the road.

the queue about 610pm on a Saturday

Le Relais de Venise – L’Entrecote is based on a Parisian restaurant started in the late ’50’s by Paul Gineste de Saurs, who bought an Italian restaurant that was called Le Relais de Venise,ostensibly as a venue to sell his familiy’s wines. Already fitted out with a Venetian theme and with no restaurant training M. de Saurs decided to keep the operation simple, added a ‘L’Entrecôte’ sign outside and offered customers a no-choice menu of French bistrot favourites: a green salad with walnuts dressed with mustard vinaigrette, followed by classic steak frites with their secret sauce. The only choice you have is how you want your steak cooked. The children of M. de Saurs all run their own chains of restaurants under similar names but offering the same menu. If a recipe works why change it. The origianal restaurant in Paris’s 17th Arrondisemont and the chain in the UK and USA is run by Mme Helen Godillot.

The decorative windows with lacy half curtains, the red awnings  create an old school feeling. Upon entering we are greeted by predominantly French staff, smartly dressed in classic black with white crisply starched collar and apron. The room is a delightful soft sandy yellow, a large vase of bright yellow lilies sits on the back of the brown leather banquettes, dark wood chairs and panelling complate the decor. Bright Venetian themed paintings and antiqued mirrors line the walls and sparkly brass fittings and marble adorn the bar area. Light sconces with shades painted with images of gondolas and gondoliers are all around the room. Tables are topped with coloured cloths and then with butchers paper on which your desired doneness of steak is written.

Le Relais de Venise l’Entrecote interior
Light shades painted with gondolier scenes
Looking to the bar

The salad is light and tasty and the vinaigrette has a nice zing to it.

Salad with walnuts and mustard vinaigrette

The steak is bought out on a platter and sliced with half being plated then bought to the table along with some nicely salted crisp french fries. The other half is held back on a warming plate until you are ready for it and fresh fries are bought out. The sauce is still a mystery, but very tasty. There appear to be several attempts online to give a definitive recipe for the sauce but apparently they don’t quite get it right. The chips are cut daily in the tradition of the original, using Bintje potatoes and the beef is English with a minimum of 4 weeks aging.  There is a short wine list of mainly Bordeaux at extremely reasonable prices and very good quality.

Steak frites
Serving the second half of a steak

Desserts are another matter as there choice of 18, four of which are fruit sorbets, three types of ice cream and a cheese plate. The other desserts are a range of French classics. R settled on a Mont Blanc and I went for Vacherin de Relais. OMG can I tell you they were HUGE and delicious.

Le Vacherin du Relais and Mont Blanc(back)

After a fabulous dinner we left the restaurant to see the queue going around the corner. Is it worth the wait? You bet.

The queue around 730pm

Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote

120 Marylebone Lane