We have heard about Left Bank Brasserie restaurants for awhile now but haven’t had a chance to experience their deliciousness until we were invited in to review the Menlo Park venue earlier this month. My only regret was not getting an opportunity to taste their incredible French onion soup so I’m adding it to the list for a future time.
If you’re not familiar with the symbolism of the Left Bank, La Rive Gauche (The Left Bank) is the southern bank of the famous River Seine in Paris.
“Rive Gauche” or “Left Bank” generally refers to the Paris of an earlier era: the Paris of artists, writers and philosophers. The phrase implies a sense of bohemianism, counterculture and creativity that existed at one time and there are still many brasseries in Paris which reflect this artsy creative time.
Below, you can see how Left Bank Brasserie tries to weave in the flavor of that era through its decor and ambiance throughout.
Left Bank Brasserie Menlo Park
As you’d expect from a French styled brasserie, they had authentic Hors D’Oeuvres, including Shrimp Provencale with Nicoise olives, basil, capers and Pernot garlic butter as well as Calamari, a Tarte Lyonnaise, which we would have tried if we weren’t trying to lay low on carbs and a delicious Cheese Fondue which they do with melted brie, blue and goat cheese and a Madeira wine. We have a fondue at home and can never seem to get it quite right.
They have the classic two salads you’d expect as well — Endive and Nicoise, however I was dying to try the Salad de Betterave au Raifort, aka, a roasted heirloom beet salad with spicy horseradish creme fraiche dressing.
They gave us a sherry dressing instead because of my dislike for horseradish, however I’d recommend getting it the way the chef prepares it if you’re a horseradish lover.
Apparently known for their cocktails as much as their wine list of French offerings, worth noting is a drink they call Rue Cler, which is made with lime juice, peach vodka, basil and apple juice. Sounds sweet right? Not a chance – it was so perfectly balanced that we could have drank them all night long.
My favorite of all the dishes we sampled has to go to their classic Escargots, which is made with the ever so rich Pernod garlic butter. They serve it with a buttered toast and like all French restaurants, there’s a big basket of bread on the table for dipping. It was perfect with the white Sancerre they paired with it.
I stayed with white through my main course, which was their pan roasted Loch Duart salmon, which they served with roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprouts petals and a vanilla saffron beurre blanc.
They had us sample their George Duboeuf Beaujolais flight with the Boeuf Bourguignon they wanted us to try, which the chef prepares with braised beef cheeks, bacon lardons (yum), baby carrots, mushrooms and pearl onions. Rich but divine!
On the Beaujolais flight was the Moulin-a-Vent Domaine de Rosiers, the Saint-Amour Chateau de Saint-Amour and the Julienas Chateau des Capitans, which was a tad light for a rich beef dish, but delicious nevertheless. Think raspberries, cinnamon, cherries and black currants.
Ready for dessert yet? We were pretty full at this juncture, but they encouraged us to try the Chocolate Fondue, which is also beautiful to look at — I’d recommend this as the perfect dessert to share if heading here as a group of four or more. Even better was their Pumpkin Cheesecake although they also offer a Creme Brulee, Profiteroles and a delicious Cafe Liegeois as well.
We loved the ambiance and given the time of year, they had pumpkins and other fall decor scattered throughout, which only added to the warmth of the restaurant.
In addition to Menlo Park, Left Bank Brasserie also has restaurants in Larkspur and San Jose. For more information, visit their website which also has their dining and wine menus.
Left Bank Brasserie
635 Santa Cruz Avenue
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Note: we were hosted by the restaurant but all opinions expressed are entirely our own.