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Café de Paris Butter

by Tim Hayward from Steak: The Whole Story

Transform a simple steak dish with this flavour-packed compound butter. Make a batch and pop it in the freezer to pull out when needed.

From the book

Tim Hayward


Café de Paris butter is one of those recipes that doesn’t have to be adhered to as holy writ but is instead a piece of restaurant cooking history. The Café de Paris was a nightclub on the edge of Leicester Square in London, which, when it opened in 1924, was a glamorous hub of theatreland. It was a place to be seen and not a venue famed for phenomenal cooking. The butter that carries the restaurant’s name is not an elegant composition designed to display the skills of a brilliant chef, but rather an expedient use of the ingredients of a well-provided mise-en-place, combined to create a stimulus for appetites jaded by cocktails and cigarettes, or distracted by the glamour and wit of one’s dining partner.

I probably wouldn’t use this butter on an extremely high-quality steak simply because, though it lubricates beautifully, it tends to stamp any subtle flavour out of existence. As you eat it you come to understand that the chefs at the Café de Paris were pretty damn clever. They must have realized that the glittering jeunesse dorée – the cocaine-dusted flappers and the cigar- smoking lounge lizards – might not have been the most discerning crowd and that ‘CdeP’ could make an average steak into an easy crowd-pleaser.

Vary this recipe as much as you like. The ingredients towards the top of the ingredients list add saltiness, sweetness, umami and that all-important lubricating richness. The stuff further down is easier to substitute. I would recommend you keep the curry powder in, though. No half-decent cook would use the stuff to make curry any more but it’s the powdered essence of London gentleman’s clubs and adds a wonderful sub-note of rakishness.

(Café de Paris butter is also claimed by a restaurant of that name in Geneva. As it’s a peculiarly undistinguished concoction, make of this information what you will.)

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2 anchovy fillets (the canned oil type)
1 garlic clove
250g (9oz) butter, softened
30g (1oz) tomato ketchup
1 tbsp English mustard
10g (¼oz) salted nonpareille capers, very finely chopped
1 shallot, very finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 bunch parsley, leaves chopped
1 thyme sprig, leaves chopped
3 tarragon sprigs, leaves chopped
1 tsp ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of sweet paprika
Pinch of Madras curry powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper


Mash the anchovies and garlic to a paste with the side of a knife.

Put the butter into a bowl and add the anchovy and garlic paste along with all the remaining ingredients. Using a silicone spatula, beat the ingredients into the butter until completely homogenous.

Scrape the butter onto a piece of greaseproof paper, then roll it into a neat log and refrigerate or freeze.


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