Once upon a time, there was a restaurant on M Street in Georgetown called “Le Steak.” It served only a green salad with a lovely mustard dressing, a steak, cooked to order and served sliced in a mustard sauce, and wonderful, crisp, French fries. The price was $19.95 - then not inexpensive but not too pricey either. Wines, dessert and coffee were extra. The same menu is alive and well - and as delicious as ever -- in New York at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street. “Le Relais de Venise,” an offshoot of the same restaurant in Paris, has the same menu as Le Steak: the same excellent salad, mustard sauce, steak and fries. The price is $28, which remains reasonable considering the passage of years and augmenting costs. Wine (also reasonable with price per glass beginning at $7), dessert and coffee are extra.
“Le Relais de Venise” (590 Lexington Ave., New York, 212-758-3989) is a copy of the Parisian original. It looks like a French brasserie: comfortable banquettes, Venetian scenes painted on the walls, friendly black-clad waitresses, mirrors on the wall and a general, cheerful atmosphere. The food is delicious, beginning with the walnut topped salad, the tender beef and the hot tasty fries. French bread, of course. Desserts, especially the profiteroles, are equally delicious, if you still have room. Since there is no menu to ponder over, service is prompt and it’s a good place for lunch with limited time. Or you can linger over another glass of wine or cup of coffee.
Over on the West side of Manhattan, David Boulud’s Mediterranean restaurant, Boulud Sud (20 West 64th Street, 212-595-1313), is a good place for pre-theatre or pre-opera dining. Located less than a block from Lincoln Center, the restaurant offers a three course prix-fixe dinner for $60; three-course lunch is priced at $29. For diners not wishing to indulge in the three-course meal, dishes can be ordered a la carte in the bar-lounge. The food is excellent and presented beautifully.
Down in Greenwich Village, relative newcomer Rosemary’s (18 Greenwich Ave., 212-647-1818) is trendy and popular with the young crowd. The restaurant prides itself on its rooftop farm which supplies herbs and produce to the kitchen. The food is Italian inspired and pasta dishes are especially enticing. The drawback is that it is a noisy restaurant, even by New York standards. It’s better in the summer when Rosemary’s is open to the street. For quiet elegance in the Village, try Gotham Bar & Grill (12 East 12th Street, 212-620-4020) where the three-course greenmarket lunch is priced at $34. An irresistible dish is the seafood salad that incorporates several kinds of seafood with tiny bits of vegetables in a bright tangy vinaigrette.
New York is full of wonderful restaurants. These are just some to whet the appetite.