New in town and eager to be in the know, Ben and I have been in explore mode the past few weekends. Our petites sorties en ville have revealed a wealth of little restaurants and bars, lofty terraces and kebab stands that we will one day become “ours” to frequent and recommend to visitors. For now the rule is to never to eat at the same place twice until we’ve run out of options. There are just too many new places to try.
A colleague of Ben’s recommended Restaurant Lecarreau, a kind of sustainable-chic, farm-to-table joint where the cool kids sit at the bar. A beautiful entryway continues to a dining room with cozy booths, a wall of wines and a life-size chalkboard menu. We sat at a two-top and our waiter arrived within seconds to present our options. The menu is divided into creative small plates (duck heart skewer, salmon tempura), meat dishes (sausage, veal kidneys, steaks) and fish (grilled swordfish, sole Meunière) and a vegetarian wok comically positioned right above and in the same font as the Children’s Menu. And then there are desserts, and they look good too.
I’ll start by saying Lecarreau is a restaurant to which we will need to return soon and often. The dishes at neighboring tables looked carefully assembled, clever ingredient combos beautifully presented. They really showed off the imagination and skill of the chef. But we weren’t really in the mood for tapas on our first weekend away from Barcelona, nor were we looking for anything with more than 3 ingredients.
All we really wanted were a couple of juicy steaks and that’s just what we ordered. It certainly didn’t hurt that the restaurant was running a special deal that night: Order a faux-filet (beef sirloin) and bottle of Côtes de Bourg, get another bottle of Côtes de Bourg free. And out they came, with an unnecessary but appreciated side of frites and a salad. First, a thick sirloin with the fat cap on, grilled to “bleeding” and served “Bordelais” with shallots and a wine-butter sauce (or I guess that’s just “normal style” here). This is a man’s cut, tender but thick to require a strong jaw to chew it. It tasted like good steak should and was made even better by the wine sauce poured over the top. Also on the plate was a creamy potato puree… and another creamy white sauce. What is it with the French and all their creamy steak sauces?
Ben originally ordered the steak I ended up nabbing, a beautiful Uruguayan vacío also grilled bloody rare and served the same way. Unlike the thicker faux-filet, this meat cut like pure butter and broke down on my tongue after just the second or third chew. It was cooked just right, browned only on the exterior to allow the beautiful, grass-eating, happy cow to moo loudly in the foreground. The familiar shape of the cut brought back precious memories of vacíos in my past. I scraped off the pungent shallots to remember them better.
On a night where we wanted red red meat with red red wine and flawless service in an intimate setting perfect for talking Lecarreau fit the bill beautifully.