Hot Plate: Six takes on steak frites you need to eat right now

Hot Plate: Six takes on steak frites you need to eat right now

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While its French name may elicit an “ooh-la-la,” steak frites is a humble comfort-food pairing of steak—typically a thin pan-fried cut—and fries, often accompanied by a savoury sauce, butter or gravy. When done right, however, this bistro and brasserie menu staple captures the understated elegance that makes French cooking so satisfying. Here are six steak frites you need to eat tout de suite.

Photo by Daniel Neuhaus
The traditional one

1 When Scale Hospitality and chef Ted Corrado revived Le Sélect Bistro earlier this year, their goal was to pay homage to the restaurant’s 45-year legacy, including its classic approach to French cuisine. For the steak frites, Corrado starts with an eight-ounce coulotte steak—a tender, pleasantly marbled cut that’s wet-aged for six weeks. An herby Café de Paris butter made with chives, tarragon, parsley and mustard seeds is brûléed on top of the steak before it arrives to the table, joining a side of supremely salty hand-cut fries. Ample bar seating and a timeless ambiance that holds the memories of many wonderful meals enjoyed over the years make this an inviting spot for a solo steak frites treat. $43. 432 Wellington St. W., 416-626-6262,

Photo by Amanda Biffis

The one with sweet potato fries

2 At Mira Mira Diner, chef Amira Becarevic breathes new life into nostalgic dishes like hot turkey sandwiches and seafood chowder. Her spin on steak frites updates the dish with a flourish of diner-style flair. Dry-aged AAA ribeye gets an irresistible char on the grill, then it’s served alongside skinny sweet potato fries tossed in a secret seasoning. These rich flavours are lifted up by punchy sides of chimichurri and a garlic–malt vinegar sauce. Although Mira Mira’s menu draws on a range of culinary influences, the beef-based dishes include other refreshing riffs on French classics that are also worth a try, like a tartare doused in XO sauce. $34. 1963 Queen St. E., 416-792-6472,

Photo by Renée Suen

The sous-vide one

3 A great steak frites relies on high-quality meat, so where better to get it than a restaurant co-owned by one of the city’s best butcher shops? Stock Bar occupies the second and third floors of Stock T.C., a project by Terroni and Cumbrae’s. For the steak frites, executive chef Giacomo Pasquini uses a picanha cut from the butcher counter on the building’s main floor. Cumbrae’s is known for its relationships with small, ethical farms, and Pasquini’s approach is to let the steak’s naturally beautiful flavours take centre stage. The meat gets the sous-vide treatment to further enhance its tenderness before hitting a cast-iron plancha. Hand-cut fries are cooked in sunflower oil rather than canola—which Pasquini says gives them an extra-crispy exterior—and paired with a paprika aioli. $35. 2388 Yonge St., 416-489-1020,

Photo by Paige Lindsay

The one at a brewery

4 Bellwoods Brewery recently expanded its footprint on Ossington, giving chef Jay Browne and his team the space needed to develop a more comprehensive menu for its brewpub. With dishes ranging from bratwurst to falafel wraps, the overarching theme of the globe-spanning menu is deliciousness—Browne describes it as “whatever we want to cook or whatever we feel like people want to eat.” His version of steak frites is cooked on a Japanese charcoal grill. The flatiron cut is best served medium-rare for maximum tenderness, according to Browne, so that’s the only way it’s cooked at Bellwoods. His take on Café de Paris butter blends in a classic assortment of herbs as well as dried mushrooms for a pop of umami. $36. 124 Ossington Ave., 416-535-4586,

Photo by Daniel Neuhaus

The one by a celebrity chef

5 Everything about chef David Adjey’s Dundas West restaurant, Bouffe, feels deeply personal—in part because the man himself is behind the pass every night. Adjey prepares the steak frites the way he likes to eat the dish, butchering every striploin by hand and selecting lean cuts with minimal fat cap so that, as he describes it, “every bite is steak.” He seasons the beef with salt, black pepper and herbs de Provence before searing it in a cast-iron grill pan. Adjey’s aptitude for eclectic plating is on full display in this dish, with the steak presented on the pan it’s cooked in, with mismatched side dishes holding house mayo, hand-cut frites and a demi-glace that takes four days to make from a reduction of veal stock and red wine. Speaking of wine, don’t skip the pairing—either a glass from Bouffe’s solid list of French wines or, for the full fancy comfort-food experience, a champagne-based cocktail. $45. 1173 Dundas St. W., 416-530-2522,

Photo by Daniel Neuhaus

The one with unlimited frites

6 J’s Steak Frites draws inspiration from a Parisian restaurant concept that has steak frites as the only main on the menu. For co-owners Jad Sfeir and chef Tara Tang, the goal was to take the fuss out of choosing what to have for dinner and to create a welcoming place where diners’ could enjoy a good meal at an approachable price. At J’s, Tang simply salts a certified Angus beef New York striploin cut that’s been aged for 28 days and tosses it on the grill. It’s offered as part of a set menu that also includes a candied walnut salad, house-made bread and unlimited (yes, unlimited) beef-fat frites. On the side: a Béarnaise-style sauce made with butter, tarragon, vinegar and wine. $49. 1198 Queen St. W., 437-995-9999,