590 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10154-3301
About two years ago, a friend of mine took me to the Paris branch of this restaurant, and I loved it. Many businesses seem to create a good business by standardizing, simplifying, and perfecting. This seems to have worked for Southwest airlines, which flies only domestically in the United States using Boeing 737s, and for McDonald's.
Relais de Venise seems to have the same idea. There is no menu for an appetizer or a main course. The appetizer is a salad in a very nice dressing with walnuts. The main course is a steak that is sliced, served in their "secret" sauce (cream, tarragon, and Dijon mustard). So the choice is bleu, rare, medium or well-done. (Ask for medium-rare, and they will repeat the options: bleu, rare, medium or well-done).
I chose bleu, and my wife chose medium. Both were cooked exactly as ordered. They arrived promptly with a generous portion of frites (french fries). As we were finishing the dish, the server offered us more. (The set menu of the salad and the steak frites costs $24.) Certainly not inferior meat, but don't let me raise expectations too high. This was a French steak frites.
For dessert, there was a selection. We chose to share a cheese, which came with a glass of port for about $9.50. A nice variety of cheese, including Brie, Camembert, a blue cheese, and a Comte.
We had a house wine -- a Merlot-dominated Bordeaux. $11.50 for the half bottle. Nothing exceptional but perfectly acceptable.
I thought it was a very nice lunch, and I'll certainly return to this restaurant. But I did wonder how much it would suit an American clientele. We started our meal at about noon, and the place was practically empty. I also noticed that many of the customers were Europeans. But within about half an hour the place filled up. So perhaps it will appeal to New Yorkers after all.
This restaurant does not take reservations.
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