Sunday, January 3, 2016


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Prinseneiland, Amsterdam, January 3, 2016—
BISTRO FOOD. They call it a brasserie, but tonight we ate bistro style: salad; steak-frites.

There used to be a chain of restaurants called l'Entrecôte. We first met one in the 6th arrondisement in Paris, in the mid-1970s I would say. It served nothing but a green salad dressed with mustard vinaigrette and including walnuts; the entrecôte and its french-fried potatoes, and for dessert a sort of tarte Tatin. There was a joke that instead of a menu the waiter asked two simple questions: saignant ou au point? blanc ou rouge? But the latter, at least, can't be true, because I don't think there was any wine but red.

We subsequently ate at a l'Entrecôte in Amsterdam, at least twice; and I think we once visited one in New York. Then, it seems to me, they fell away from the restaurant scene, which of course had evolved considerably in the meantime.

Tonight, it being Sunday, and New Year's Sunday at that, restaurant options were scarcer than usual here; but a dependable one was available. And on its menu, lo and behold, "Formula Entrecôte." The same green salad, with walnuts, dressed with mustard vinaigrette; the same entrecôte, the same frites. The same mayonnaise for the fries. A similar béarnaise sauce for the meat, though greener than I remembered, and sharper with both tarragon and vinegar — in fact, tarragon-infused vinegar, I think. But tasty.

The L'Entrecôte history is interesting: you can read about it on Wikipedia. I don't know how this restaurant is connected to the original; perhaps it isn't — though, like the original, it's tied to its own French vineyard, and perhaps exists only to move those wines. Down the street, by the way, there's a second restaurant owned by the same woman, and it's called L'Entrecôte et les Dames, or something of the sort.

In any case it was a comfortable, pleasant, nutritious, tasty dinner, unremarkable but very pleasant, and I'd go back any rainy night I was in the mood…

Côtes du Rhône Villages, "Le Graillas," Cave des Vignerons à Sablet (Vaucluse), 2011
•Brasserie Van Baerle, Van Baerlestraat 158, Amsterdam; +31(0)20 679 1532
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

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