Daily dilemma: What do you order in France steak tartare or entrecôte?

Daily dilemma: What do you order in France steak tartare or entrecôte?
It's fair to say that meat plays an important part in French cuisine, and vegetarians often find themselves something of an afterthought.

So we've raised the steaks (sorry) in today's daily dilemma – do our readers prefer a classic Entrecôte or steak tartare?

It turned out to be one of our highest voting polls, proving that readers of The Local appreciate a good butcher, but in the end there was a clear winner.


Despite the win, the steak tartare earned itself plenty of support in the comments.

Elisha Anderson said: “Cooked steak frites is my go-to, but I’m always up for a fabulous tartare!”

While Jules Morrison added: “Both are good but a slight lead for the werewolf chow.”

Despite its huge popularity in France, steak tartare is not actually French in origin.

It was introduced throughout Europe in the 17th century by Russian ships and is thought to come originally from the area covered by modern day Mongolia (hence the name tartare or Tartar).

In the early twentieth century it was more commonly known as steack a l'americaine before settling on its current title.

A classic steak tartare involves very fresh finely chopped beef served with onions, capers, pepper and other seasonings (often Worcestershire sauce) with a raw egg yolk on top.

Such is its popularity that the word tartare is often now used to simply mean anything raw, and tuna tartare or sea bass tartare and now frequently seen on menus.

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Entrecote is hugely popular in France, so much so that there's a chain of restaurants called L'Entrecote which serve nothing but steak (with chips). Queues can frequently be found outside.

A traditional entrecote is the cut of meat from around the rib area of the cow, usually translated as rib or ribeye in English.

Entrecote frites is one of the most-ordered dishes in French restaurants and the French themselves tend to like it quite lightly cooked.

As one reader complained on our Facebook site “entrecote and tartare are basically the same thing in France”.

That's not quite true but French chefs do prefer to send out their steaks with a little blood still oozing from the middle and there are tales of chefs refusing to 'murder' their meat by preparing it bien cuit (well done).

They're probably increasingly in a minority though – really good quality meat does not need a lot of cooking and will have more flavour if it's bleu (very rare) saignant (rare) or à point (medium rare) but if you really can't stand the sight of blood then order it how you like it. 

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