I love steak tartare. I like the ingredients and ritual of them gobbling it together table side for you. Hard to find in the U.S. anymore, except at the occasional French bistro and I have scored it at the Pacific Northwest mini chain upmarket steakhouse, El Gaucho. My favorite place in the world to get it is at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Hong Kong. That might be partially due to the quality, but also to the mystique of the place, headquarters for journalists, spies, and various souls with nefarious intent.
My second favorite place is here in Paris, where it’s pretty easy to find. I have mixed feelings when I come to Paris, I lived here a couple decades ago, and it was a 50/50 proposition, half of my stay was glorious and half was hell, kind of like my time in Portland, Oregon. In Paris, I was partnered with a woman who couldn’t keep her pants on, which was great when she was home, not so great (for me) when she left the house. Some people have “gay-dar,” I’m cursed with having “cheat-dar,” I have a knack for picking women who are serial adulterers. But I’d have to define “serial,” wouldn’t I? Paris partner cheated three times in two years, Portland partner cheated on average, three times per week. So I guess whatever term would be more severe than “serial” would apply to cheating partner #2. Both still in their respective places, working their ways through the phone book. But enough of the fun stuff.
Steak Tartare is raw ground steak, mixed with onions, caper, worcestershire, seasonings and egg yolk, served with little pieces of toast to schmear it on. Incredible when prepared with great ingredients, I can imagine it could be terrible as well, tho I have never had a bad serving personally.
In Paris you can get a version called tartare aller-retour, which is mostly raw, but slightly seared on one side. That’s good too. “Cafe society” in Paris is great. Hardly anything, for me, is more enjoyable than sitting on the sidewalk at a bistro and whiling away the day with demi-tasses of espresso and chain smoking, reading the International Herald Tribune. (recently renamed as the “International New York Times.” It’s just not the same).
One of my favorite such places is Le Petit fer à Cheval, in La Marais (video below), not far from where cheater # 1 and I lived. And while it might not be the most “kosher” accompaniment, I do like some terrific pommes frites with my raw beef.
I have had a nice version, a coarser chop, at Fraiche, in Los Angeles, as well, but here’s a pic of today’s (above), and it was lovely. It was a glorious day for sidewalk dining in Paris – mid 70s, clear and sunny.
And by the way? If you’re married or partnered with a serial adulterer, pack and run. It’s symptomatic of much, much deeper problems that the individual most likely will never have a desire or courage to face. In life, sometimes people decide it’s easier and less painful to stay messed up than to do the work to get well.