The menu card came in a sturdy folder made of imitation leather. We browsed through it and were particularly interested in the page presenting a delectable grilled meat selection. ‘Onglet’, ‘Rumsteck’, ‘Filet’, … The landlord definitely knew were to get good beef. There was one cut, however, that caught our attention: ‘faux-filet’. This was something we had never heard of. When the landlord came to take our order, we asked him what it was. His answer, however short it was, convinced us to try this noble cut of meat.
The faux-filet was grilled on the open wood fire filling the whole dining room with its tantalizing aroma. It came, medium rare, with a generous helping of spicy garden beans and a soft creamy sauce with coarsely grated white pepper corns. It was one of those utterly delicious meals that one never forgets. I even remember drinking a red Passetoutgrain’ with it. Passetoutgrain is a ‘light-hearted’ Burgundy made of at least 1/3 of Pinot noir grapes which are typical for the Burgundy region, and 2/3 of Gamay grapes. The latter are used to make the fruity Beaujolais wines. The grapes are fermented together and result in a rather ordinary, yet very fruity and easy-to-drink wine.
As for the faux-filet, it took me years and years to find a similar cut here in Belgium, where it is sold as ‘contre-filet’. It’s the second most noble cut of the beef; the filet being the finest morsel. Its ‘Belgian’ name is very appropriate as this piece of meat is located ‘contre le filet’ (next to the filet). It distinguishes itself by its shape, its texture, its tenderness and its taste. The texture is similar to that of the entre-côte, but the contre-filet is smaller and contains less fat.
The story goes that the English King Henry VIII liked the faux-filet or contre-filet so much that he even gave it the title of ‘Sir’. Hence the ‘loin’ became known as ‘Sirloin’.
According to the internet the Montmartre restaurant still exists. You’ll find it on the corner of the Avenue de la Porte de Laon and the Avenue de Verdun, in the tiny village of Bruyères-et-Montbérault, some 7 km south of Laon. It has probably changed hands since our visit in the 80ies, though …
And now it's time to rush into my kitchen to prepare Sunday lunch. On the menu: pork roast with boiled potatoes and cauliflower in bechamel sauce!