By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri KrasovLeft Bank Brasserie is a Bay Area institution which remains true to its fresh seasonal French-inspired cuisine through thick and thin.
The original location in Larkspur, Marin County, frequently visited by the founder, celebrity chef Roland Passot, never fails to entice its patrons with old favorites and new menu choices alike.Chef Fabrice Marcon who recently joined the brasserie, brings in his acclaimed international and American experiences spanning from European venues in Cannes, Lyon, Geneva, and Stockholm to Napa Valley and San Francisco, where he currently resides with his family.
At Left Bank Brasserie Larkspur, Chef Fabrice, always smiling and exuding joie de vivre is now charming his way to the hearts [stomachs] of the restaurant’s regulars with subtle upgrades to the menu reflecting his Southern French upbringing and tastes.Of the many things I’ve tried on a recent visit, it would be hard to pick a favorite – the new chef seems consistently good on everything from aperitif to dessert.
Peruvian lantern scallops ceviche looked rather picturesque, served in a scallop shell on a bed of rock salt and peppercorns. Not a big fan of scallops, I had to admit that these lightly marinated morsels were the most delectable pieces of seafood I’ve ever tried, creatively garnished with diced pickled melon, locally-grown heirloom cucumbers, and lime, ginger, and coriander vinaigrette.Crimini and portobello mushroom potage du jour in a mini tureen was thick-brown, fragrant, and drizzled with truffle oil – an ultimate mushroom lover’s delight.
One of the most coveted house-made charcuterie items on the menu is delicately spiced lamb sausage, accompanied with a little boat of bolder and spicier piment d’Esplelette mustard and a fresh salad of arugula, fennel, tomatoes, and Nicoise olives. Arriving in a toy skillet, the juicy sausage was sizzling, and bursting with flavor at first bite.Realizing that the new chef knew his way around lamb, I proceeded to L’épaule D’agneau entrée, while my dining companion ordered Magret De Canard Aux Pêches.
Slowly braised lamb shoulder, seasoned with garlic, mint and rosemary, came on a plateful of flageolet beans and was topped with whole baby carrots, presenting a hearty old-fashioned stew, too generous to be consumed in one sitting.
Roasted duck breast slices were perfectly medium, interspersed with grilled peaches, and garnished with chickpea fritters, and honey/balsamic gastrique sauce. Despite the fact we were rather well fed by now, we couldn’t spare a speck for a doggy bag.
And then the luscious desserts arrived, rich, beautiful, and hard to ignore. Airy house-made beignets were served with a cup of dense coffee crème. Eggy clafoutis, usually made with seasonal fruit, contained fresh apricots, and a nutty nougat log was complimented by distinctively fresh-berry raspberry sauce.Choosing from the well-selected Left Bank Larkspur wine list is never easy, however, our knowledgeable server made some wonderful suggestions, of which I felt especially fond of Louis Bouillot Blanc de Noir cremant, Perle de Nuits, great with ceviche; Newton Red Label char, surprisingly good paired both with mushroom soup and lamb sausage; and Chef des Murailles Vacqueyras, full-bodied and velvety with the succulent duck.
To familiarize the clientele with Chef Fabrice and his ideas and aspirations, Left Bank Larkspur is announcing Meet the Chef prix-fixe dinner on August 24, for which reservations are required and can be made by calling 415-927-3331.
The restaurant is located in the century-old historical Blue Rock Inn building at 507 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur. Open for lunch and dinner daily, and for Sunday brunch. More information at www.leftbank.com.