With great excitement, I invited my father to join my husband and me for lunch at “L'Entrecote” on Saturday. My father has lived in France for many years and I thought this would remind him of home whilst on an extended business trip in London. I am sorry to say that this miserable place let him down at almost every opportunity.
We were shown to a decent enough table – all tables are small and close together, but not unreasonably so given the restaurant's popularity – and within about 10 seconds were asked how we wanted our steak cooked. I replied “medium rare”, only to be told “we only cook in the French way: blue, rare or medium”. Well why ask what I want, I thought, why not tell me what I'm allowed?
Salad and bread arrived. The salad was small, but I have to say delicious with a strong mustard dressing and a few walnuts. But when my husband asked for butter, the true nonsense began. The waitress replied that we could not have butter, as it's a French restaurant. He asked for the manager. The waitress explained the manager would say the same, but agreed to get her anyway. The manager said “this is a French restaurant, we do exactly what they do in Paris and so we don't serve butter”. When asked if the restaurant was in possession of butter, she replied, “Yes, but only to be served with cheese”.
Her manner was that of someone explaining an important and inalienable principle, rather than someone making a petty point of denying a paying customer's simple and reasonable request. At this point we would have left but for the fact that we were entertaining my dad and did not want to spoil the occasion.
The steak arrived smothered in a sauce which would have been nice were it not for the sheer quantity on the plate – and I say this as a lover of sauces of all kinds, and someone who oftens asks for more. The meat – delicious beef which I believe is from the excellent Donald Russell – barely stood a chance against the tarragon-heavy gloop. The fries were very nice, but rendered soggy by the aforementioned sauce, which was a shame.
The bill was £95 (which included 2 small glasses of wine and 2 small beers). Considering the constituents of the meal – lettuce, beef, potatoes, sauce – it seemed steep. But to be honest I don't mind paying that for a good, if simple meal, assuming all parts are well executed and the service good.
In this case neither was true, for even the good bits – salad and the meat – were spoilt either by their accompanying sauce or accompanying attitude and so I just felt ripped off.
If you've read this far then I'm sure you will not be surprised to read that I will never be going back to this ridiculous place. France is a country of wonderful food and extraordinary restaurants (some of which admittedly have service less gracious than one might expect, though in my experience nothing to compare to the lows achieved by L'Entrecote), and it's truly shameful for this restaurant to suggest it has anything in common with it.