Dozen Best Sauces For Steak
“Beef is the soul of cooking,” famously said Marie-Antoine Careme, one of the earliest authorities on French cookery. Even in these inventive times, steaks are never far from the hands or minds of great cooks. But they face a paradox. If the steak is the very finest available, should a sauce get in the way of its natural flavors? If so, what sauce could possibly enhance such a steak?
Many answers have been found. Here we advance a list of the best sauces currently being served atop excellent beef. But before we get started, it must be noted that the most opulent and best sauce of them all is currently missing from regular menus in New Orleans. It combines demi-glace, Madeira wine, truffles, and foie gras, among other things. Its variants are steak Perigourdine, beef Wellington, and tournedos Rossini. All of these turn up as specials on the menus of a few restaurants. But they’re complicated and expensive to make, and come from the dimming light of classic fine dining. If you find a steak with this enhancement in a place that has otherwise proved its abilities, get it. Chateau du Lac, Dickie Brennan’s Steak House, Le Foret, the Grill Room, and Le Meritage are some of the restaurants where I’ve found the treasure.
1. Chateau Du Lac. Old Metairie: 2037 Metairie Rd. 504-831-3773. Brittany native and chef-owner Jacques Seleun brings more great steak sauces to the table than any other restaurant hereabouts. He makes textbook versions of bearnaise, sauce au poivre, bourguignonne (most of that goes over the snails, but it’s great on a steak), and a few more. He has foie gras in the house all the time, and with a little advance notice he will make tournedos Rossini with it. Or even beef Wellington.
2. Redemption. Mid-City: 3835 Iberville St. 504-309-3570. This restaurant is in the antique church that once was Christian’s. That restaurant’s fabulous filet mignon Bayou la Loutre has been revived, and those are glad tidings indeed. Demi-glace is at the center of the intense brown sauce, which is slathered over the steak after a few oysters have been curled in it. Other oysters are stuffed into the steak itself. Oysters and beef? A natural combination of flavors.
3. Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Metairie: 3633 Veterans Blvd. 504-888-3600. ||CBD: 228 Poydras (Harrah’s Hotel). 504-587-7099. Is sizzling butter a sauce? It works like one. Everywhere I eat steak, regardless of its quality, I come away thinking that it could have been better with sizzling butter. Ruth’s didn’t invent the idea–that we owe to the Crescent City Steak House–but nobody makes that one ingredient more exciting.
4. K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen. French Quarter: 416 Chartres. 504-524-7394. Twin beef tenderloins with debris is the dish, created by Chef Paul Prudhomme during his days at Commander’s Palace, and one of his many signature dishes ever since. Steak meets roast beef poor boy is the essence of it, but that makes it sound less classy than it actually is.
5. Brennan’s. French Quarter: 417 Royal. 504-525-9711. Filet mignon Stanley sounds ridiculous, but it’s terrific. Two sauces: a marchand de vin with mushrooms, and a horseradish cream sauce. On the side: a halved baked banana.
6. Arnaud’s. French Quarter: 813 Bienville. 504-523-5433. Most steak sauces are some shade of brown. Bearnaise sauce–which I nominate as the world’s most delectable–is a brilliant yellow-orange, the color coming from eggs emulsified with butter. The green flecks are tarragon, chives, and chervil. It’s always perfect at Arnaud’s.
7. La Crepe Nanou. Uptown: 1410 Robert. 504-899-2670. The French bistro style would not be credible without a steak with creamy peppercorn sauce. And here it is.
8. Keith Young’s Steak House. Madisonville: 165 LA 21. 985-845-9940. Most steaks here emerge from the kitchen naked, and stand up well on their own. However, you can get it with sizzling bordelaise–the New Orleans version, which is essentially garlic butter. What an aroma!
9. Antoine’s. French Quarter: 713 St Louis. 504-581-4422. Filet mignon marchand de vin–the sauce made with red wine and a roux–is the old restaurant’s most famous additive to its excellent steaks. Occasionally, they also make sauce Medici, a similar sauce with a Creole flavor.
10. La Boca. Warehouse District: 857 Fulton. 504-525-8205. More different cuts of beefsteak are served here than in any other New Orleans restaurant. The South American inflection brings chimichurri to the table. That’s a room-temperature slurry of herbs–one of which is mint. It’s almost too good on a steak.
11. Clancy’s. Uptown: 6100 Annunciation. 504-895-1111. Filet with port wine sauce and Stilton cheese. The latter is inside the steak, but it blends with the lightly-spicy sauce for a unique meeting of sharpness and sweetness.
12. Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse. French Quarter: 716 Iberville. 504-522-2467. The house filet is essentially a steak version of the old Brennan classic chicken Pontalba. It’s covered with a hash of potatoes, ham, and mushrooms, then topped with bearnaise. To make it a man’s meal, a half-dozen or so fried oysters are scattered about.