Tag Archives: French bistros in SF

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

New York Steak – Steak Frites

New York Steak – Garcon, San Francisco

Grilled New York Steak, Garcon, SF CA
Grilled New York Steak, Garcon, SF CA

Garcon is sadly overlooked as a favored French bistro in San Francisco. But they should be more known because owner Jerome Rivoire and his crew at Garcon serve up some pretty great food. The grilled New York steak is one example. Appropriately rare and wrapped with a dripping coat of spicy green peppercorn sauce, it’s a great little steak frites. The fries, in this case, are crispy garlic-parsley potatoes. These, and some sourdough, and you’re well appointed to mop up the fantastic gravy that the steak doesn’t skate through. The third wheel on this plate is some sort of seasonal greens (either French beans or a salad). Described on the menu: Grilled New York steak, haricots verts, garlic & parsley potatoes, green peppercorn sauce.

The Grade: Great

The Damage: $23

The Skinny: Garcon
1101 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone: (415) 401-8959
Website: http://www.garconsf.com
Reservations: http://www.garconsf.com/reservations.html

Garçon on Urbanspoon