By : JOHN GRANVILLE
14 August 2019
Seldom does a restaurant in Bangkok achieve fame and fortune through selling almost only one dish, but the concept is well known to the French, as indeed is the main dish at Le Boeuf, steak with fries.
This is almost the only item on the menu. The magic touch is the sauce in which the steak swims, for it is a recipe that was devised in Geneva in the 1940s, in a restaurant named Café de Paris.
David Perrot is perhaps best known for Crepes & Co, and before that he was a very experienced hotelier. He understands that in a crowded market, tastes can change rapidly, so along with his star item he has a small but select choice for guests who would prefer to sit out the beef.
Le Boeuf is located some way down Lang Suan, about halfway between Ploenchit and Lumpini Park. By a happy coincidence, the architectural style is French; a standalone structure in the forecourt of the Marriott Executive Apartments, the restaurant is a Parisian glass conservatory.
A light and airy spot for lunch, and cosy in the evening with the red tablecloths and glowing lamps, the restaurant is a perfect city-centre diner. There is a bar at one end. The kitchen is underground, the staff continually disappearing and appearing via a stairwell behind the bar.
Café de Paris sauce is a butter-based sauce that is served with sliced entrecote, or rib-eye steak, and since those early days more than 70 years ago it has travelled internationally, partly under licence in its original form, and partly in similar forms emanating from other restaurants, most notably a Parisian restaurant named Le Relais de Venise.
The version at Le Boeuf is essentially that of the original Café de Paris recipe, and has sixteen ingredients. The recipe is such a closely guarded secret that David mixes the sauce himself.
The waiter writes your order on the tablecloth, as is the practice in many French restaurants. Feeling in a particularly French mood, one of us had six escargots served in a ceramic dish with a persillé sauce made from blue-veined cheese (280 baht) while the other had a small tub of salmon rillettes (190 baht).
There are several beef sizes available, and there is lamb, and there is salmon. All served in Café de Paris sauce. There is a grilled meat platter, for those who don’t want the sauce, but there is little point in coming here if the Café de Paris sauce is not to your liking.
One of us is very partial to lamb, and so ordered a three-chop, 300-gram serving of les cotes d’agneau (1,280 baht). The other, who had been eagerly awaiting the beef fix, ordered a 250-gram serving of Wagyu beef (1,690 baht), which like all the beef here is from Australia. There are less pricey cuts, starting from 699 baht, and perhaps we should point out the salmon steak version is only 890 baht.
The steak arrives as fine pink-centred cuts wallowing in golden-green sauce, the dish kept warm over an individual little burner. Fries are served in unlimited refills and a green salad with walnuts is also included.
This is enormously good value, and service is very polite and efficient. The place was packed, and convivial, with just about every type of customer: locals, tourists, business people, couples, and groups.