Friday, January 2, 2009
LEFT BANK...THE FRENCHEST PLACE IN CONTRA COSTA
Left Bank in Pleasant Hill is one of the few restaurants in Contra Costa County that serves authentic French food. There are a few other French restaurants in the area, but none compare in food and ambiance to Left Bank.
I love Left Bank's elegance in that haughty way that the French can be. If I didn't hear English being spoken around me, I'd think I was in a Parisian Brasserie.
So, after the movies in Downtown Pleasant Hill last Saturday, we had dinner at Left Bank.
The restaurant always celebrates some region or holiday and this time it was Burgundy. We started with the Butter Lettuce Salad which we shared. The kitchen split it into two servings of this very generous size.
Jim couldn't resist the special Burgundian Beef Bourguignon. I went for one of my favorites, Steamed Mussels and Frites (French Fries).
Since my last visit to Left Bank, they've added small dessert servings to their dessert menu. Wanting just a little something sweet to end the meal, I ordered the small serving of three Financiers.
Financiers are tiny almond cakes...really little loaves. I often buy them in bakeries in France, but until last Saturday at Left Bank, the only place I get them in the States is in my kitchen when I go to the bother to bake them. What a treat!
All the seafood served at Left Bank is sustainably harvested. The Charcuterie is from Fra' Mani, the Berkeley company that handcrafts is salumi from pork raised with no antibiotics and vegetarian food. Other dishes which I recommend and which are regularly on the dinner menu include Coq au Vin, Cheese Fondue (lovely to start or end a meal), Roast Chicken, and Steak Frites.
There is live music in the Pleasant Hill Left Bank lounge weekend evenings...a nice place to linger over a drink after dinner or to just drop in for a light bite to eat.
In about a year or so, Left Bank has plans to leave Pleasant Hill to a new site in Walnut Creek in the Mercer condominium complex. This is a loss for Pleasant Hill which doesn't have any other restaurant as nice as Left Bank. The good news is that the Left Bank group is keeping this attractive property and will have another restaurant with a different concept...maybe American Bar & Grill?...in this same location.
There are other Left Bank restaurants in Northern California in Larkspur, Menlo Park, San Jose, and San Mateo. Chef Roland Passot, who started the Left Bank group as a casual French dining alternative to his more elegant La Folie in San Francisco, is still attracting crowds to La Folie for that special night out. Chef Passot also operates Tanglewood, an upscale American restaurant in Santana Row in San Jose.