Category Archives: Steak Frites

Steak Frites (Monk’s Kettle, SF)

Steak Frites

Steak Frites - Monk's Kettle, SF
Steak Frites - Monk's Kettle, SF

A good steak frites is the French man’s answer to hungry lunching. It’s a simple dish, the French bistro take on meat-and-potatoes, get-the-job-done. Monk’s Kettle serves up a very tempting steak frites, with a giant leafy forest of greens.

This skirt steak’s a juicy little Angus (Nature Well), cooked to order (medium-well or bust), and nicely portioned. But red wine shallot butter and demi-glace give the beef quite a pronounced pounce. This steak frites has a bit more attitude than most; it’s an excellent version. The fries are thin and crisp, nicely done, reminiscent of the addictive, McDonald’s variety.

Steak Frites (thick detail) - Monk's Kettle, SF
Steak Frites (thick detail) - Monk's Kettle, SF

The Spot: Monk’s Kettle

Aside from a lovely steak frites, Monk’s Kettle is one of the best places in San Francisco Bay Area to sample an astounding array of beers. Their 24 draught taps change 3 to 5 times weekly. The beer menu itself is 6 legal-sized pages listing (and explaining) a worldwide variety of familiars and odds, with prices that range from your low-budge suds (PBR and such) to party-like-a-rock-star froth (including champenoise-style beers that set you back between $45 and $60 for 12 oz.). The staff is authentically friendly, very knowledgeable about the beers they have, and enjoy helping folks match their flavor palette or dare into new territory. If you’re no pork chopper, just go by for a beer sometime.

Get your Belgian beer on: Monk's Kettle
Get your Belgian beer on: Monk's Kettle

The Grade: Excellent

The Damage: $21.50

The Skinny: Monk’s Kettle

3141 – 16th Street, San Francisco (between Valencia & Guerrero Streets)
Phone: (415) 865-9523
Website: http://www.monkskettle.com 

Steak Frites – Flatiron Steak

Chez Maman, San Francisco

Flat-iron Steak Frites

A friend was enthused to take me to get steak frites at Chez Maman, the legendary Potrero Hill grill and one of San Francisco’s tiniest restaurants. Because capacity is maybe 14 or so people, there’s always a wait and the warm kitchen sizzles heighten the anticipation. Supposedly, many people warrant Chez Maman to have the best steak frites in town. For me, that’s a tall ladder to climb as there are many other French and Belgian restaurants (and other restaurants) who dole out a mean steak frites. So I went with low expectations, a good policy when approaching anything with its own hype parade.

Flatiron Steak Frites, Chez Maman SF
Flatiron Steak Frites, Chez Maman SF

The meat for Chez Maman is the flatiron steak, which is a lower-end cut of beef that’s great for searing and serving up simply with fries or a simple veggie side. It’s perfectly seared with “X” or 45-degree angle sear markings and comes out on the plate beautifully juicy. The French fries are excellent, and the green peppercorn sauce is marvelous. My flatiron steak was rare–I don’t like overcooked beef–and it was savory, juicy and satisfying. Not surprisingly, though, it didn’t live up to the ‘best ever’ level of mythology that preceded it like a Roman Emperor’s red cape and dragoon squad. Despite that, it’s a very good steak, not a bad deal at $19 (for this city), and Chez Maman is a really fun experience. Just be prepared to wait for it. 

The Vibe: Chez Maman

Chez Maman has a small grill and, appropriately, use old flatirons to sear the beef, about 3 feet away from you if you get the right seat at the long, narrow counter. Good exhibition, good olfactory and aural teasing, a cool little gem of a place, and a good place to get in from the cold if you like to be near kitchen heat. For San Francisco, it works.

Detail, Chez Maman Flatiron Steak Frites
Detail, Chez Maman Flatiron Steak Frites

The Grade: Very Good

The Damage: $19

The Skinny: Chez Maman

Chez Maman on Urbanspoon