NYCReview

photo credit: Kate Previte

Steak Frites image
8.0

Steak Frites

French

Hell's Kitchen

$$$$Perfect For:Eating At The BarFirst/Early in the Game DatesPre-Theater Eats
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Naming a place after a dish may seem lazy, but it’s actually bold. You have to be able to back it up, and Steak Frites does, serving textbook interpretations of classic bistro food—including a flawless version of its namesake dish. If you’re looking for something smothered in foam under a smoke-filled cloche, go elsewhere. If you’re looking for straightforward, satisfying French fare, go to Steak Frites. 

Appropriately, this Hell’s Kitchen restaurant looks like the end result of a director telling a set designer: “Build me a neighborhood Parisian bistro where we can film our meet-cute.” Worn wood furniture, distressed gold-framed mirrors, and vintage cartoon postcards make this place feel decades old. It’s bustling, loud, and cramped, with waiters constantly bumping into each other, and glasses getting knocked over about once every hour. If you come often enough, you’ll eventually break something too, unless you score a seat at the less chaotic bar.

Steak Frites image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Steak Frites image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Steak Frites image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Steak Frites image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Steak Frites image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image

Ordering here involves no major plot twists. Beef and fries are the leads, and they're what you should prioritize. There are four different cuts of meat, and while you could go for the côte de boeuf or chateaubriand for two, you'll do just fine with the $38 hanger steak. Order it medium-rare, and it comes out medium-rare, with just the right amount of salt. The fries are an equal partner in this marriage. They’re thin, crispy, and just fluffy enough.

Steak Frites' supporting cast shines as well. The onion soup, blanketed with a perfectly browned layer of cheese, and the salade Lyonnaise both look and taste like renditions you might learn to make at Le Cordon Bleu. And we prefer the very saucy gnocchi Parisienne—our favorite non-steak entrée here—to the well-known version at Frenchette

Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image
Steak Frites image

Most of the characters feel familiar, but Steak Frites isn’t without its charming quirks. The escargots “salad” has snails—sans shells— tossed with buttery chunks of baguette and, oddly enough, celery. It defies expectations, but works well. A few things (the jumbo shrimp cocktail, a gruyère omelette) don't quite match up to the higher standard set by the signature dishes, but they're easily ignored.

Should more restaurants start naming themselves after the dish that most defines them? Who’s really going to object if Via Carota changes its name to “Cacio E Pepe?” And if Katz’s suddenly switches all their signage to read “Pastrami on Rye,” we would all be like, “Sure, checks out.” Does Steak Frites live up to its simple but audacious name? Absolutely.

Food Rundown

Steak Frites image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Escargots De Bourgogne

Think of this dish as a panzanella with snails. It comes with chunks of baguette soaked in parsley-garlic butter, like saturated croutons. The addition of sliced celery isn’t traditional, and makes every bite a little less decadent. But we like it, and if you disagree, you can always pick the celery out.

Steak Frites image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Pâté De Campagne

Sure, you can pick up a slab of terrine at your local fancy grocer. But you’d have to put in a lot of work to prepare all the accoutrements (red radish, cornichons, raspberry coulis, and toasted bread drizzled with a ton of oil) that come with this dish. Make sure this is one of the starters on your table.

Steak Frites image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Salade Lyonnaise

So many elements have to be just right for a very good salade Lyonnaise. The egg has to be perfectly poached, the lardons thick and not too crispy, and you can’t drown the frisée with too much sherry vinaigrette. The kitchen here nails everything, and they also toss in chips made from fingerling potatoes, which is a nice textural addition.

Steak Frites image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Gratin De Gnocchi À La Parisienne

The velvety, mashed potato-like consistency and crispy exterior of these gnocchi are reason enough to order this entrée. But it also comes with mushroom fricassée, and no shortage of mornay, so make sure you have plenty of complimentary sesame sourdough and baguette on hand. There are zero things wrong with this dish.

Steak Frites image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Hanger Steak

If it was 1952, we’d come to Steak Frites in the middle of the week for lunch, get this steak with a martini, smoke a cigarette, and go back to work. If for some reason you don’t get the default order here, you should still go for a side of fries and one of their sauces (like au poivre or béarnaise) for dipping.

Steak Frites image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Dry-Aged NY Strip

Much bigger than the hanger steak, this cut is a good alternative if you’re really hungry. It’s a thick, juicy steak—the kind you’d order at a traditional steakhouse—and comes with a slab of butter.

Steak Frites image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Éclair À La Noisette

Your server will try to push the chocolate soufflé (partially because it takes about 20 minutes to make, so they need a heads-up). We prefer this éclair though. It’s covered in a crackly caramelized layer, stuffed with whipped hazelnut cream, and topped with dark chocolate sauce. Do chocolate and hazelnut ever not taste awesome together?

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