Where are the best steak frites in St. John’s?
Try these three options — one of them may surprise you
GABBY PEYTON email@example.com @gabbypeytoneats
Imagine a restaurant that serves unlimited French fries. Well, dreams do come true — last fall, I visited J’s Steak Frites in Toronto and indulged in the fantasy as piles of hot, crispy potatoes were shovelled onto my plate. The restaurant is modelled after the classic entrecôte style restaurant in France where they only offer one prix fixe menu, serving salads to start and steak frites as the main. And with the Parisian institution Le Relais de Venise L’entrecôte opening a new location in New York City a few weeks ago, I’ve got steak frites on the brain. WHAT ARE STEAK FRITES? Though it’s the Belgians who lay claim to the simplistically divine combination, it’s the French who perfected steak frites — steak with sauce and fries — and I’ve long lamented the lack of a French restaurant in St. John’s. Personally, I feel a menu of heavy, heart-warming dishes with copious amounts of butter and garlic would do quite well in the city — pedestaled bowls of French onion soup, savoury coq au vin and, of course, steak frites. SOME GOOD OPTIONS LOCALLY Despite the absence of a quaint corner entrecôte (and the unlimited fries), there are some great places in the city to find great steak frites — and one that may surprise you. Note that this evaluation weights the fries and the steak in the dish equally, and while there are some great steaks in this city, as well as some fantastic French fries, it’s the two together that make it count. Here’s where to get the best steak frites in St. John’s. BASHO RESTAURANT & LOUNGE 283 DUCKWORTH ST. Those in the know understand that Basho, famously known for their sushi, is the best place in the city for a great steak. This restaurant put sushi on the dining map here in St. John’s when it opened in 2005, with recipes by the famous restauranteur Nobu on the menu, great martinis and the best nigiri in town, but I go back repeatedly for the steak frites. There are two different steak entrees at Basho, but it’s the dry aged striploin of beef ($48) that hits the right steak frites notes, perfectly cooked and served with a prosciutto cream sauce. The best part is the half truffle French fries and half salad side combination. The fries are true frites — extra thin and extra crispy and would stand up alone if served solo, a true testament to a good French fry. THE MERCHANT TAVERN 291 WATER ST. Merchant knows its beef. I’ve long claimed they have the best beef tartare in the city, a staple on the menu since the place opened in the spring of 2015. But they’ve pretty much always had an iteration of steak frites on the menu, too. Sometimes it’s a sirloin bavette with chimichurri, other times it’s served with cafe du Paris butter and red wine jus. Right now, The Merchant Tavern is serving up ribeye frites ($48) served with broccolini and a classic sauce au poivre. One thing that doesn’t change is the quality of the French fry at Merchant — thin, but not scrawny, and well-cooked just to the edge of browned, they’re very moreish. THE KEG STEAKHOUSE 127 HARBOUR DR. Hear me out on this one. If you read my CBC rant a few years back about the chain restaurants, you understand my preference for local, but I’ve since changed my tune when it comes to chain restaurants and their contribution to our dining landscape. Chain restaurants have their place, and while there are many places to get a steak in the city, some are inconsistently cooked or prohibitively expensive (as of late, I saw a $60 steak frites, not meant for sharing). Something is comforting and effortless about steak frites at The Keg: You always know what you’re going to get. I love to sit in the bar area, order a giant glass of cabernet sauvignon and dig into an eight-ounce sirloin ($39) with a side of French fries and béarnaise sauce. Consistently delicious. The French fries here are The Keg fries, which are hot, crispy and perfectly adequate, on the thicker side, but not quite beefsteak size. For a short period, they offered a frite-like potato offering in the bar which resembled a Mcdonald’s fry in the best kind of way; I miss them.