By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov
House-made chicken liver mousse with truffle shavings is Executive Chef Brendy Monsada’s signature dish and a big draw for regulars here, at Left Bank Brasserie in Menlo Park. Garnished with watercress, olives, cornichons, whole-grain mustard, and dry fruit compote, and served with baguette crostini, the silky pate can easily become addictive. No wonder on a Sunday night, this spacious yet cozy restaurant decorated with oversize antique posters was rather busy with local families, groups of friends, and romantic couples basking in its special atmosphere.
Southern French/Northern Italian influences abound in Chef Brendy’s cuisine, redolent with pungent flavors of stewed tomatoes, roasted onions, pickled olives, fresh wild arugula, and anchovies, like in his famous Fougasse a la Tomate bread.Another little masterpiece is a seasonal Tarte aux Figues with translucent slices of Serrano ham, goat cheese, and fresh figs, house-marinated in port and ginger.On the main course menu braised lamb shank is an undisputed star, judging from the amount of plates passed from the kitchen to the tables in one evening. Browned to perfection on the outside, and succulent on the inside, it came with fingerling and purple Peruvian potatoes, wild mushrooms, and olives in a fragrant herbal reduction.Wild Alaskan halibut was served over juicy ratatouille in basil sauce, and covered with olive crust.Delicate desserts included panna cotta with fresh berries, and strawberries marinated in Grand Marnier and covered with pistachios. As always at Left Bank Brasserie, the wine list is well thought-through, and features excellent finds, like Sancerre sauv blanc 2009, Alsace pinot blanc 2008, great French rose, and Russian River Valley zin 2006. Located at 635 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, CA; 650-473-6543, www.leftbank.com