Steak and Beef in Paris


Onglet / Hanger steak - common find in local markets in Paris

Steak in Paris is lean, well cooked and flavourful. Breads of cattle are often displayed and cuts like skirt and hanger are very common. The culture is to have the steak cooked ‘saignant’ which means ‘bloody’. Contrary to what others might tell you, à point is not exactly what medium-rare is to Australia – à point is slightly less cooked than medium-rare in real life results. Oddly enough, the first 10 pages on Google search for the internal meat temperature for saignant (pretty much meaning rare) in french  is 60-63 C!! This is completely and utterly wrong. Let me set this straight in terms of what the words and temperatures should be below.  The numbers are the final internal temperature of the meat. Unless you are cooking sous vide, you need to remove the meat and let it rest for 5-10 minutes in a warm place before you serve. A rough guide is to remove the meat 5 C before the desired final temperature if you want to put it in a warm oven at about 60 degrees. If you place it near your stove, it is usually cooler there compared to an oven so taking it off 3 degrees below and let it rest.

Bleu = less cooked than rare: <50 C (A quick sear on both sides and serve. Usually best on a thinner cut of steak. Inside is essentially warm and raw. I don’t think measuring temperature here is useful)

Saignant = rare: 52-54 C

À point = medium rare: 56-58 C (Rose – a term often reserved for veal, duck and game at this temperature)

Demi anglais ( a term not usually used) = medium: 60-62 C

Cuit  =  medium well: 64-66 C

Bien cuit = well done: >68-70 C – essentially no pink colour remaining.

French people in Paris seem to be overly proud that they don’t like meat cooked past medium. It is not the first (or the second) time that I have heard something to this effect – “we (French) think eating bien cuit is no no no”. But really, there many people outside France who would agree and and think that to cook a steak beyond medium is a sin. I have to say though, ordering steak saignant or à point in France gets pretty consistent results. In Australia, the number one fear of ordering steak at a not so expensive restaurant is getting overcooked steak. No, it’s not ok.

Overall, I do enjoy leaner steak but I have grown more accustomed to a bit more marbling. Not overly marbled like 11+ wagyu, but something like a score of 3-4 which gives it a juicier taste than lean steak. Too fatty and the steak looses the meaty bite.

Steak from Le Severo with a sear on the outside that is full flavour and almost crisp. The blood pudding here was out of the world. Don't get the steak tartare - it is about 400 g of raw beef.

Le Relais de Venise - L'Entrecôte - a chain serving up perfectly cooked steak with a special green sauce. It comes with fries and a walnut salad. Nothing else savory on the menu (what menu?). The steak is served to you twice to ensure the meat is warm - a pleasant surprise when you wish you had one more bite. We think the sauce contains some anchovies, green peppercorns and liver.

Steak tartare - found in nearly every bistro or brasserie. This one chopped coarsely with sun-dried tomatoes

Line outside Le Relais de Venise - L'Entrecôte

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  1. #1 by dorotheo on April 30, 2012 - 7:00 am

    The steak cuts looked fantastic and made my mouth water, also you can have a great deal by sending a free text at http://www.textme4free.com/

  2. #2 by Cat on June 7, 2012 - 2:19 am

    I was in Paris just last week and we actually went to Le Enterocote based on this very blog post of yours! Yes, there was a line extending out onto the road too!

    Just out of curiosity, we ordered it a point but really, it would have been better ‘medium rare’. How do you say that in French SVP or is that not kosher in Paris?

  3. #3 by Cat on June 7, 2012 - 2:24 am

    Oops, just re read your post. A point you said is medium rare but the waitress at Le Enterocote said it meant medium? To us Aussies, the meat came out more like medium and we would have loved it just a less well cooked…
    The frites were yummy though!!!

  4. #4 by tzuyen on June 24, 2012 - 1:26 am

    Hi Cat, I just came back from a short trip to Paris and ate there again! I think you are right in terms of the terminology. I think I was trying to think of the actual results you get on the plate. I remember in Australia, unless you are in a good steak restaurant, medium rare is inevitably too over cooked. Times have probably changed.

    Interestingly, I ordered ‘saignant’ and got something I would think is less cooked than medium rare – at least half of the interior still looks raw (not pink). My friend ordered ‘a point’ and got something I would say is medium – there was no raw colour, only the pink and brown hues. I think that mine should be a bit more cooked and my friends a bit less cooked given that the two words are next to each other on the scale. Fine details I suppose. But the variability on the day and the steak you actually get is too much.

    Did you eat at other nice places? I love soaking up the sauce on the plate with the thin fries.

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