Succulent steak and a secret sauce

The meat at L’entrecote de Paris in Herzliya Pituah is decidedly a cut above.

L’entrecote de Paris (photo credit: Courtesy)
L’entrecote de Paris
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When Nicholas Zaoui decided to open a high-class kosher restaurant in Herzliya Pituah about seven months ago, he started with a certain advantage. His father had owned a franchise of the famous L’entrecote de Paris 30 years before in Marseille, and he had grown up in the business.
“I worked as a waiter and also in the kitchens, learning all the tricks of the trade and absorbing the atmosphere,” says the 36-year-old Zaoui, who made aliya at age 19.
L’entrecote de Paris was established in 1959 in Paris, and the gimmick that has made the chain famous is the secret sauce invented by the original owner, Paul Gineste. It is served with the famous steaks, which are the piece de resistance of the restaurant.
Zaoui thought long and hard before deciding to go into the restaurant business. With degrees in economics, he worked in marketing here and abroad, and by the time he became the father of two small children, he decided he didn’t want to be away from home so much and that opening a restaurant would be the answer.
He saw the need for a high-end kosher restaurant and liked the idea of closing on Shabbat and being able to spend the day with his wife and children.
“Also, although I'm traditional, not Orthodox, it’s a cultural feeling, a need not to work on Shabbat.”
On a balmy evening recently, my husband and I sat on the glassed-in terrace of the elegant place on Shenkar in Herzliya Pituah poring over the extensive menu and wondering how to choose from the many attractive possibilities.
The table, laid with a white linen tablecloth and matching cloth napkins, the soft lighting in the patio and the French accents of the hovering waiters all held the promise of a great meal.
While we perused the menu, a tasty black olive tapenade materialized with crispy home-made baguette slices.
For the first course I chose ceviche (NIS 49), which the waiter assured me was made with the freshest of fresh sea bream. It came beautifully presented – a mound of avocado, tomato, carrot and raw fish cubed and bound together with a mint and lemon sauce and garnished with a lemon water lily. It was delicious and light enough to leave plenty of room for the main course.
My husband chose the house goose liver with pear chutney on toast (NIS 95). Naturally I had to taste this, too.
It had a creamy texture, but the rich taste of pate de campagne and the sweet pear chutney was an unusual accompaniment. A few eggplant crisps for garnish were just right.
There was not so much hesitation over the main course, as it obviously had to be the trademark steak and secret sauce. (NIS 109). The side dishes were carrot soufflé and an authentic ratatouille. We drank a few glasses of a Yaron blended red wine (NIS 48 a glass).
The steak was tender, melting in the mouth and easily sliced. I was sure I would detect some of the secret ingredients, and Zaoui said he would reveal two of them after the meal. It was a fascinating taste, perhaps partly because of the mystique around it, redolent with herbs with a slightly sweet and sour undertone. Of course, there was no way we were going to discover the 50-year-old closely guarded secret. The two ingredients the owner was prepared to reveal were salt and pepper!
In any case, I have no doubt that the kosher version, missing out cream and butter, is nothing like the original – although it certainly made a change from the usual steak dish.
The chips (fries) were the best I have ever tasted. Normally I just nibble a few, but these were irresistible. Very thin, slightly curved. Zaoui explained that the chips are machine cut and then soaked in ice water for two hours to remove the starch.
Other main course choices were spring chicken in diablo sauce (69); beef Bourgignon with pasta (69); sea bass (110); and several vegetarian options.
For dessert we were brought a large selection of the menu offerings. Both the chocolate mousse and the lemon mousse, served in small glasses, (NIS 35) were delicious. My only complaint in the whole meal was that the dessert spoon was too big for the glass.
The restaurant serves business lunches – a two-course meal for NIS 55, and parties are catered, with seating for 170 indoors and outside.
L’entrecote de Paris is a very welcome addition to the few really top-class kosher establishments in the central area.
Food, service and ambience were all first rate, and I highly recommend this restaurant.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

L’entrecote de Paris
Kosher, Herzliya Rabbinate
14 Shenkar, Herzliya Pituah
Tel: (09) 951-4509