Ordering Steak Frites Like The French

L'Etoile 1903: Steak Frites
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It is night time in Paris just off the Champs-Elysée.
You’re sitting in a bistro which is still decorated with some
Christmas decorations even though it’s January.
Your waiter approaches and you order the steak frites.

Waiter: “Quelle cuisson votre viande? Bleu? Saignant? A point?”

You freeze.

Steak dinner at L'Etoile 1903 Paris, France
Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris from Foodtravelist.com with me at L’Etoile 1903 in Paris, France.

Last year I had a delicious dinner with fellow travel bloggers Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris from Foodtravelist.com. We ate at L’Etoile 1903, a classic French bistro located a stone’s throw away from the Arc de Triomphe. I ordered the steak frites—-yes, steak with fries. I know enough French that fortunately I didn’t freeze when the waiter asked me this question. [ In this post I have two infographics which you can download as PDFs or save in Pinterest.]

Ordering Steak In France

Steak à point
Steak à point

Here’s an infographic on how to tell your waiter how you want your meat cooked. It might be helpful on your next trip.  [Note: The French tend to serve meat a little more rare than we would expect, so keep this in mind].

Your waiter will ask: “Quelle cuisson votre viande? Bleu? Saignant? A point?”

Translation: “How do you like your meat cooked? Blue? Rare? Medium Rare?”

What these terms really mean and to understand the “tenderness”, check out this infographic:

Steak: How would you like your meat cooked infographic
How Would You Like Your Meat Cooked?

Sauces To Accompany Your Steak

Steak Frites at L'Etoile 1903 in Paris, France
Steak Frites at L’Etoile 1903 in Paris, France

The steak (entrecôte) I ordered was accompanied by two sauces (Graine de Moutarde and Béarnaise) and it reminded me of the three sauces I learned how to make at École des Trois Ponts, a language/cooking school west of Lyon. [My experience is detailed in the post, Ecole des Trois Ponts].

If you are travelling to France and want to have something special, be sure to get a steak WITH at least one of these sauces. Yes, they are rich, but delicious and perfect accompaniments to steak.

Sauce #1: Bernaise [Ingredients: vinegar, shallots, tarragon, white pepper, butter, egg yolks]

Sauce #2: Bordelaise [Ingredients: red wine, shallots, butter, veal stock]

Sauce #3: Graine de Moutarde  [Ingredients: white wine, mustard, cream]

Here’s an infographic in case you are interested in making one of the sauces.

How to make 3 French sauces to go with your steak.
How to make 3 French sauces to go with your steak.


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  1. Super handy post, Jan! I don’t speak French so this post will help me avoid nodding to “Saignant” next time I’m ordering steak!

    1. I translated the recipes as best I could. We learned mostly thru demonstration, so I hope they work for you!

  2. The photo of us dining together brings back such fond memories Jan. Can’t believe it’s been almost a year. I hope we get to share a steak frites in France again soon. Viva le France!

  3. I don’t eat very much meat but being a Francophile I do appreciate the fabulous breakdown you offer here in explaining the various ways to order it and the accompanying sauces. Bravo.

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