Cannes Culinary Showdown: The Steak Frites to Beat

9:00 PM PST 05/18/2014 by Gary Baum
COUBY’S CAFÉ (Above); NEW YORK NEW YORK

THR stopped by a pair of prime local bistros to judge how they've adapted the national dish.

This first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Cannes Daily on May 19.

Ah, steak frites, that most durable of French brasserie staples. It’s available all over Cannes, an easy draw for the unadventurous U.S. diner. And the past half-decade has seen a remarkable new wave of America-oriented bistros emerge, as besotted with the Yankee dining tropes of today as the New Wave auteurs were with cinematic ones half a century ago. THR stopped by a pair of prime local examples to judge how they’ve adapted the national dish — washing them down, appropriately, with Coca-Cola Classics.

COUBY’S CAFÉ

With Pharrell’s “Happy” piped in, and a vaguely bro-y aesthetic, this better-burger spot at 3 bd. de Lorraine wouldn’t be out of place in Santa Monica — if not for the fresh minced horse on the menu. The steak arrived adeptly cooked, unconventionally served with a strip of bacon and a sunny-side-up egg. It was playful and appropriate, but so wide of the concept as to nearly obviate it. Yet the frites were a marvel. They are wide, airy, properly crispy, totally satisfying and, most important, not excessively oily. You can’t ask for better. Price: €17 

NEW YORK NEW YORK

Holding a transatlantic mirror to Keith McNally’s Francophilic SoHo sanctum Balthazar, this paean to loft-y Manhattan (white subway tile, exposed metal ductwork, hardwood floors and pressed tin ceilings) a few steps from the Palais at 1 allee de la Liberte manifests a traditional rib-eye cut. Though the frites are merely adequate — limp and unnecessarily stubby — the steak is invitingly well-marbled and luxuriating in its juices. And the single still-skinned onion, nearly liquid when unsheathed, is the perfect accompaniment. Price: €19 

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