With its neighbour Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote closed for refurb, 108 Brasserie has cheekily stepped in to fill the steak/frites gap
Of course 108 has big shoes to fill. I first went to Le Relais around ten years ago and it was brilliant. Since then the queues outside have remained a constant landmark. No mean feat in London, a place where initial success, and packed tables, often fades away as the fickle London foodies move on.
108 Brasserie must have gazed wistfully out of its windows at those queues, but in fact 108 is a very good restaurant in its own right. It has a warm and welcoming interior that feels very upmarket without being up itself. There’s a lovely high ceilinged, daylight-filled lower section and a more intimate rear section with well-padded seats and banquettes.
We went to the back part, darker and sexier, and waved away the menu because we’;dcome for that cheeky special – steak and chips and salad with Bearnaise sauce in a jug and a glass of red wine for £29. Sound familiar?
It’s not an exact clone, mind you. The salad here is served with the steak, not before, and there are no walnuts in the salad. It’s made up of green leaves, some avocado, rocket etc and the dressing is good, but not French enough for me.
I assume Venise serves entrecote steak, given its name, but 108 serves a 6 oz Bavette (Flank) steak. Bavette, like its close cousin the Onglet, is a steak for grown ups. 108 ask how you want it cooked, but you don’t want to go past medium rare. This steak works best when it’s left pink and will toughen up if overcooked.
It comes pre-sliced, which is a good idea as it can be a tricky cut. This is a steak with more muscle and fat than most and while fat means flavour, it can be a tussle with anything but a razor sharp knife. Bavette also has more open fibres, which means the Bearnaise sauce gets absorbed. It’s a good sauce, it could be a bit thicker.
Frites were good, a few more might have been generous, and the unknown red wine was fine. Nothing at all to complain about. We cheerfully chomped our way through and didn’t need dessert.
As a midweek lunch option, this is a good deal and hopefully will get people to sample the main menu which looks very eatable.
You have to commend 108 for being a bit cheeky with this meal deal, it makes good sense and I am sure many a tourist will be turning up at Venise not knowing it’s shut and so will be pleased to go next door and not leave Marylebone empty handed.
108 Marylebone Ln, London W1U 2QE