Short List: Steak frites

Steak frites is the quintessential French bistro dish: an inexpensive but flavorful slab of beef seared to medium rare, topped with maître d’hôtel butter and served with a pile of crisp, perfectly golden-brown frites. Traditionally, the steak itself was often onglet, or hanger steak, which is still often used in France, although you’re just as likely to see other cuts in modern versions: often entrecôte, a rib steak, in Paris; sirloin, ribeye or New York strip in American bistros. Here are three of our local favorites.

1535 S. Eighth St., St. Louis, 314.436.2500

Franco chef Matthew Abeshouse does steak frites big – 14 full ounces of fatty Illinois ribeye. It’s topped with a delightfully grassy sorrel butter (the featured herb is seasonal). The Soulard spot’s frites are truly classic: Idaho russets hand-cut into thick quarter-inch chunks and fried twice for an ideal texture. Dressed with only salt and pepper, they’re perfect.

Brasserie by Niche
4580 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, 314.454.0600

The Central West End restaurant’s tiny kitchen bucks tradition (and embraces practicality) by using frozen frites – no room for a fryer. Relax, traditionalists: They’re called Mega Crunch and executive chef Bill Fugitt said they beat out 11 other contenders in a kitchen taste test. “They’re the best in the country,” he said. The beef isn’t bad, either: 8 ounces of Nebraska pasture-raised New York strip glazed with a rich Bordelaise sauce.

Chez Leon
7927 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.361.1589

That enduring institution Chez Leon rounds out our list, and its version is as ultra-classic as you would expect. A 10-ounce, Illinois-raised New York strip is finished on the grill and arrives with a puck of maître d’hôtel butter. True to the French style, the Clayton restaurant’s frites are thick and skinless, dressed with only salt. But chef Colby Erhart isn’t done, piling on glazed carrots and haricots verts and, in the center, a little mound of red and yellow ratatouille.