With steak frites becoming a bit of an ‘it’ item in Hong Kong recently, newcomer L’Entrecôte de Paris (no connection to the famous French restaurants) has gotten its fair share of media attention – and not all of it has been good. I’m happy to say, whatever grievances people have had with the restaurant in the past have been resolved. This restaurant is incredibly well priced considering its prime location right above Lan Kwai Fong! Opened by long time friends Benjamin Pitet and Matthieu Lemoine, L’Entrecôte capitalises on each partner’s skills. At only 15, Benjamin began his career at Hôtel Crillonat, continuing on to work with some of the top chefs in Paris. Naturally, he takes the lead on the menu, and depending on the day he might even be cooking your meal! Matthieu, a passionate sommelier is in charge of the restaurant’s impressive wine selection, amongst other things of course. Together these two men have brought a homey place to HK, serving up simple, affordable food.
L’Entrecôte de Paris is a mystery to find, especially if you’re going by street numbers. Save yourself the embarrassment that I could not, and just head for Mama San, across from the LKF Hotel. Don’t be put off by the slightly sketchy building, once you’re inside the restaurant, everything is lovely and cosy, despite it’s massive size, with warm golden light and a classic brasserie feel (think wooden panels, red leather cushions and panelled floors). We were welcomed by co-owner Benjamin, which wasn’t just special Sassy treatment – both owners are actively involved with the restaurant, and it’s not surprising to see one seating customers or getting behind the bar to mix up some fun cocktails.
Benjamin was so friendly, we instantly felt like regulars – a rarity in trendy Hong Kong! I loved the blend of 1920’s Parisian elegance and glamour, especially the striking stained glass wall, real flowers and classic art nouveau; it really gives the space an authentic feel.
Breaking with tradition, L’Entrecôte offers more than the typical fare of a walnut salad and steak frites. They offer both a fish and a vegetarian option, in addition to some daily specials. When we were there, they had Pan-Fried Scallops with a Puree of Herbs and Linguini Calamari – our waiter’s favourite.
While we waited for our food, we happily munched away on a whole-wheat baguette and some samplings from their charcuterie platter: green olives, cornichons, and thin slices of cured meat. The full charcuterie platter also comes with pâté, pork rillettes and Dijon mustard, and changes each month. The baguette, the perfect combination of crunchy and soft, is imported directly from Paris, and is one of the few things on the menu not made in house.
Next up was the green salad with walnuts. L’Entrecôte sources their produce from an organic farm in the New Territories, something I love to hear! The dressing was on point, a perfectly balanced, creamy vinaigrette that was full of flavour. Unfortunately I found the greens themselves a little soft, but the dressing and plenty of walnuts helped!
The main meal was our favourite part of the evening – even the presentation was wonderful. All conversation stopped when the watiers arrived, holding silver platters piled high with steak and beautiful, golden fries. It took a lot of effort to not just take the platter of fries and run, but I’m glad I resisted. The steaks, sourced from Australia, were delicious. Tender and flavourful, they would have been good on their own, but the ‘secret sauce’ (Benjamin puts the kitchen on lockdown every morning to make it, not even the chefs know the recipe!) took them to a whole new level. Different to other steak sauces, this one clearly uses a lot of greens, making it stand out from other restaurants. If you’re looking for the smokey, chargrilled taste, you may be disappointed though… and our medium-rare steak was slightly overcooked. The chips, however, were perfectly cooked: crunchy and fluffy, seasoned just right and not at all greasy, and, best of all – you get a top up!
For dessert, we tried the highly recommended Paris Brest, a light and nutty choux pastry filled with rich praline cream, and the Chocolate Moelleux, one of Matthew’s mother’s recipes.
The chocolate was the table favourite by far, rich and fudgey and plated with sweet crème anglais, it was a decadent treat.
There is an extensive wine list here, thanks to Mattieu, and you can even ogle his special wine fridges up by the bar. We had a wonderful 2005 Chateau Beau-Site, available by the glass, that was full bodied and long with a very smooth finish – a great pairing for the steak. We also had a chance to sample one of Benjamin’s creations for Valentine’s Day. He wouldn’t tell us what was in it besides champagne and strawberry, but it was strong and sweet and we loved it! The bar has a great range of classic cocktails, and I have a funny feeling I’ll be back to try them all.
Our waiter, Sam, was energetic and knowledgeable, and truly cared about the experience of the customer. He was able to give us recommendations for all of the dishes and the wines, and we loved the way our order was scribbled on the tablecloth. It’s silver service at L’Entrecôte, so you’re served at the table from a platter, and you will never be so impressed by a serving of chips.
I really enjoyed my experience at L’Entrecôte and honestly can’t wait to go back for more of that secret sauce and banter. I’d like to say I’ll try a daily special next time, but there’s no way I’m not having that steak again! [Update: I have been back, and I did have the steak. No regrets.] L’Entrecôte is special in that you can bring your friends, your family, or your date and have a wonderful time without going bankrupt. For dinner, prices range from $180-$268 and for lunch they are $120-$180. With such a prime location, it’s the perfect place to go to before a big night out, or if you prefer, spend the night drinking cocktails and enjoying the relaxed vibe! While L’Entrecôte might be a little rough around the edges, the affordable price point definitely makes it stand out amongst the over-priced Central restaurants!