25, rue Marbeuf, in the 8th Arrondissement.
01 40 70 09 99. Daily, noon to 11:30 p.m.
Here’s an address for steak frites with South American style.
Sure, you can have béarnaise sauce with your steak at Charbon Rouge, but one look at the menu and you’ll know that this isn’t a classic French steakhouse.
It’s a concept restaurant, really, and the concept is simple: high-quality aged beef from good sources around the world—Charolais beef from France, Wagyu raised in New Zealand, Angus from the United States and Argentina—cooked over a charcoal grill.
For starters I considered the seviche and gazpacho, but then I hastily ordered the entrée du jour before realizing that it was perhaps not the best idea to have a salad with duck breast before having a big piece of steak.
But when it arrived, a fat portobello supporting rosy slices of grilled duck with a scattering of greens and red onions, I no longer cared. The dressing was bold, with bits of lardoon, herbs and almonds. I could have stopped there.
I’ve heard good things about the burger here, and the mother and daughter across from me were certainly enjoying theirs. But steak seemed like the way to go. Priced from 19 to 73 euros (that’s for the Wagyu), the meat is grilled to your preferred cuisson and served with different sauces: a bright herb-based chimichurri, béarnaise, or charbon rouge, a red pepper–based sauce with mild heat. You have a choice of sides: grilled vegetables, fries, or a Caesar or green salad. There is also a choice of knives, serrated or non. I recommend non.
I had an American flank steak and, naturally, fries. The fries were not bad but I’m skeptical that they were fraîches (fresh), as advertised. As one of the last lunchers in the place, I think I may have gotten the dregs. The steak itself was fantastic, perfectly cooked and well seasoned, and I loved the spice in the red sauce.In the name of professionalism I had dessert, too, a verrine made with dulce de leche that was bogged down by a pasty chocolate tapioca and a lace cookie about to go limp.
The whole place is pretty slick, all wood and leather in shades of brown and black and red, with a lovely tiled bar area (great for solo dining) and bovine-themed art all around, in case you forget what you’re eating. The restaurant is large, with two levels and a bathroom that dwarfs my apartment. The crowd is well heeled, with plenty of suits, but full of friendly energy, which is surely in part the effect of a gracious staff.
In a nutshell: Charbon Rouge is a concept restaurant where you can have your steak and eat it, too, South American style.
Price check: Reasonable, especially considering it’s located near the Champs Elysées. Two-course menu at lunch, 23.50 euros. A la carte, first courses from 8 to 12 euros; main courses from 16 to 73 euros; desserts from 7 to 9 euros. Wines at every price point.
If you’re craving red meat but Charbon Rouge sounds too sleek for you, visit the more traditional Maison de l’Aubrac, just down the street:
La Maison de l’Aubrac
37, rue Marbeuf, in the 8th.
01 43 59 05 14. Open daily.