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[Bay Area] Left Bank brasseries


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Guest Aaron T

Had dinner a couple of months ago at the Left Bank in San Mateo. Despite it being a chainy kind of place, the food was actually good. I stuck with simple things. App of Salade Verte: butter lettuce, herbs, mustard vinaigrette. Followed that with STEAK TARTARE: chopped natural beef, quail egg, capers, shallots, Dijon mustard. All in all enjoyable. Not a destination in any manner but a fine placeholder.

 

Had a work dinner at the Menlo Park branch earlier this week. They did a nice set up for 20 of us for drinks outside and then dinner in a private room inside. They poured the wine and bottled water with the heaviest pours I have ever experienced. There could be no doubt they wanted to sell as many bottles as possible. Yikes. I don't want my wine glass that full. We had the choice of a legume salad, which did not include any beans, which I thought very odd. The other app choice was a veggie soup, which was fine. A puree of asparagus (I forget) or some similar green veggie with cream.

 

Entree was a steak with some beans and mashed potatoes. We ordered fries in addition. Steak was of low quality. Perhaps a hanger steak, was thin and very long, not flavorful at all; felt like a very cheap cut. The french fries were the best item I had.

 

I didn't note the wines, as they were not on the table. I much preferred my experience in San Mateo.

 

Link to a thread referencing this chain is here on the Scott Howard thread. I agree with the sentiment that this is not the kind of chain I can imagine a serious chef working in.

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I think, and I may be wrong, legumes is generic for vegetables in French.

Yes, as in legumes aromatiques (seasoning vegetables such as onions, garlic, carrots, added to stocks etc. -- inescapable in French cookbooks) and even more memorably, the idiom grand(e) legume, big or great vegetable -- for a person. Like big cheese or big wheel in English.

 

Anyway. Left Bank has some local history, and after multiple experiences with multiple sites, I posted various comments on those experiences such as this nutshell summary:

 

... should credit also the Left Bank chain, which offers something along [brasserie] lines, though has shown limitations. Several meals of different sizes at each of following locations produced consistent high results at the San Mateo site in the young instant-village complex there (northern analog of SJ's Santana Row). Good results at the older, Menlo Park location; spectacularly and relentlessly inconsistent results at the Santana Row (SJ) location which however has a beautiful setting with outdoor dining in good weather, arbor with outdoor chess area adjacent. 6-8 meals that location. For a business dinner where we brought in wines, server brought glasses to the table and it fell to me to point out that they were covered with dust and greasy fingerprints. Large meeting and dinner for a well-known international food-wine group, with European dignitaries, was a comedy of service errors. But random visits for a glass of wine, onion soup, delicious apple tart have been fine. Strange tension between the menu cards, pointedly in French, and the servers, who have sometimes not been able to pronounce much of it. (Why not either train them, or translate the menus to the more practical, local, language, English???) And then a highly respected Bay Area chef stopped there, ordered the offered sauce Béarnaise, received a Hollandaise, remarked at the difference, and had server argue to him that it was actually a Béarnaise. (Malaise!)

 

 

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