By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov
It’s spring, and at the Left Bank Brasserie in San Jose, located in the bustling Santana Row shopping district, special cocktails turn all shades of green.
The Specialities des Cocktails front runner, Rue Cler, served in a martini glass, combines all things green – apple, basil, lime, and agave on top of peach vodka, while a newcomer Green Loire is redolent of basil and ginger over rum and St. Germain, and topped with lime-ginger foam.
As for blue cheese, it plays very nicely with goat cheese and brie in a melting pot of the restaurant’s signature Fondue aux Fromages – an addictive mixture served with bread and toasts.
Spring tastes and colors grace even the most meat-centered section of the menu – Charcuterie Maison – with red radishes and baby arugula offsetting rich silky chicken liver truffle mousse and crunchy julienned pig ear in Salade d’Oreille de Cochons.
Light and refreshing Montfaucon rose (2010 Les Gardettes) comes as a great accompaniment to spring-themed starters, but the heavy-hitters are found on the classic Vins Rouges list and Les Plates menu, for which Left Bank Brasserie is known among the Bay Area Francophiles.
2009 Frederic Magnien pinot noir from Burgundy is a wholesome and full-bodied compliment to any meat course, or even a hearty fish stew in tomato broth.
At the suggestion of our knowledgeable server, I chose this Espelette-spicy Basque dish containing juicy morsels of various seafood and house-made chorizo – a real body- and soul-warming experience on a cool spring afternoon!
My dining companion also followed her suggestion for a dark-meat-only coq au vin, marinated in red wine, cooked with pearl onions, baby carrots, and button mushrooms, and served over buttery fettuccine.
At the end of our meal I felt rather satisfied, or in other words, could hardly breathe, but was not able to resist a scrumptious dessert – an apple cake with apricot glaze and vanilla crème Anglaise.
A glass of tokaji from the Hungarian Royal Tokaji Wine Company was as sweet as a spring breeze.
On Sunday, April 1, all three Bay Area Left Bank Brasseries, headed up by Master Chefs Roland Passot and Joel Guillon, will celebrate the French tradition Poisson d’Avril (April Fish). The special poisson du jour will be French turbot from the Clean Fish Company. For each diner ordering the French turbot, Left Bank will donate 10% of the proceeds to the Watershed Project, a non-profit working to protect and restore the San Francisco Bay Area watershed.
And if you are interested in the historical roots of Poisson d’ Avril – it is suspiciously close to our April Food Day. Children stick a paper fish to the backs of their friends and when the prank is discovered, yell “Poisson d’ Avril!” The origins of this prank are said to date back to 1582 when France was the first country to switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar which caused the beginning of the year to move from April 1 to January 1. Some people did not hear about or accept the change of date, and they continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1, which made them look like fools among their more advanced friends.
For Poisson d’ Avril, in addition to the regular a la carte menu:
San Jose location will serve pan-roasted turbot with clams marinière, spring vegetables and lobster nage ($26.00)
Larkspur location will serve oven-roasted turbot and aromatic spring vegetables with coriander, virgin olive oil and Meyer lemon ($26.00)
Menlo Park location will serve poached turbot with grilled white and Delta asparagus, morel mushrooms, citrus emulsion and fresh basil ($26.00)
Left Bank Brasserie Bay Area locations:
San Jose, 377 Santana Row, San Jose, CA 95128, 408.984.3500
Larkspur, 507 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur, CA 94939, 415.927.3331
Menlo Park, 635 Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025, 650.473.6543
More information and reservations at: http://www.leftbank.com/.
Green Loire and Blue Fromage at Left Bank Brasserie San Jose
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