Deconstructed: The Bavette at Petite León

Petite León is chef Jorge Guzman’s restaurant in Kingfield, where he’s known for putting big flavors together in new ways. His Yucatán heritage plays base, but he riffs comfortably with a wide range of culinary tricks in his repertoire. If you need to break out of the steak and taters rut, his steak is inspiration.

This is not his grandmother’s dish. “No, this one is just us, playing around with what flavors we like and which ones shouldn’t work together on a plate but then somehow do,” Guzman says. “This steak has been on the menu since we opened, and it’s a favorite in the neighborhood.”

The Cut

Named after the French word for bib, the bavette cut is known in butchers’ circles as the flap steak. The flatter, highly flavored, and loosely textured cut is close to the more familiar flank steak. You don’t see it often at the market (word is the butchers keep it for themselves), but it’s been making appearances on local menus for a while because it’s both affordable and, in the right hands, tasty. 

Pick of the Peppers

The bright orange swish under the cut is a piquillo steak sauce. “We have so many piquillos around in other dishes, so it made sense to use them,” Guzman says. “But honestly, the goal is to make it taste like Heinz 57, which is, as you know, so good.”

The Method

“We cook it sous vide until it hits 118 degrees and then char it on the grill,” Guzman says. Not only does it make it easier to get the inside temp right for the guest, but it saves time for a small kitchen putting out a lot of plates during service. It’s more of a sure thing than a touch test, because the meat on these steaks can be springy whether they are under- or overcooked. 

Feeling Tejas

“There’s a marinade that I’ve been using since 2009 at Tejas,” Guzman says. It’s pretty simple: ancho chilies, pasilla peppers, black garlic, beer, sugar—and that’s it. They rub the steak with it and let it sit in that marinade until they’re ready to cook it. 


Garnish your steak with a fruit? Yes, especially when it’s an avocado boosted with togarashi. The Japanese spice seasoning adds a little sesame, a little crunch, and a bit of umami to the plate. The charred jalapeño is there to bring an added kick if you so choose. 

Potatoes Are Boring

Petite León doesn’t force you to have a potato with your steak. “We like minimal, simple. None of our entrees have sides,” Guzman notes. “Instead, you can choose your own and take your own path. You want beets or broccolini? They both go great with steak. Instead of assuming potato, we give people options.”

Petite León, 3800 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-208-1247 

Stephanie March

Food and Dining editor Stephanie March writes and edits Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s Eat + Drink section. She can also be heard Saturdays on her myTalk107.1 radio show, Weekly Dish, where she talks about the Twin Cities food scene.

Read more by Stephanie March

July 5, 2022

11:28 AM

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