I eagerly anticipated the day Left Bank opened their doors in the West End (on Denman, just below Robson) last summer. I live nearby, and I love having good food a short walk away.
I’ve eaten at Bistro Pastis on 4th, and I’d eaten at Left Bank’s predecessor, Cafe De Paris. Pastis, is, of course, a legend in this town, but I never went back to Cafe de Paris a second time. Left Bank ticks all my boxes: it’s laid back and casual, the space is bright and clean, the service is outstanding, and the food, while definitely French in origin, is simple and accessible. Since they opened in August, I’ve been back at least 4 times, most recently to try their brunch, which launched a few months after they opened.
On the weekends, they set up a crepe station, and there is always a featured crepe. The weekend we were there, the feature was a crepe with ham and cheese folded inside, a raw egg yolk perched on top, and a small mixed green salad on the side. The buttermilk dressing was so simply done, but insanely delicious.
If you like standard brunch offerings, you will find them here. There is the Left Bank Breakfast: two poached eggs, potatoes, sourdough toast, and a side of either crispy pork belly (all the yum) or chorizo. As you would expect from a French joint, there is an omelette special, as well. For those that are trying to eat less pork belly in 2015, there is a Healthy Start breakfast (also gluten-free), with poached eggs, sautéed spinach, quinoa salad and fruit.
I can never, ever go to brunch where there is a salmon benny and not order it. It’s one of my fave things in the world, and this one had fatty, succulent bright orange slices of smoked salmon, a perfectly poached egg (meaning, when you cut into it, the yolk runs out), and a pale, light house-made hollandaise. I can’t stand packaged hollandaise, and in a French restaurant, you’d expect it to deliver. The hollandaise here is understated, but good–it shouldn’t detract from the star of the dish, which are the eggs and the salmon. The accompanying deep-fried hash browns were perfectly seasoned.
One thing Left Bank does that is a bit unique is it offers smaller plates for brunch. There are “main dish” sized entrees, like the crepes or the benny or the eggs. But they also offer half-a-dozen smaller dishes that you could share, tapas-style. One is a vegetarian cassoulet, rich with onions and savoy cabbage, made with beluga lentils, with an egg baked right inside. My favourite bite, however, was the mushroom toast. Quickly sautéed, earthy oyster mushrooms and criminis with spinach, on top of two crispy slices of bacon and a thin slice of toasted sourdough, topped with a fried egg. The yolk makes the perfect sauce. It was rich and warm and comforting.
In terms of drinks, other than coffee, you can enjoy a mimosa or a Kir Royale with your brunch. They make their mimosas the right way–pouring the champagne first, orange juice second. That way, it mixes itself, and there’s less chance it’ll go flat.
The service here is fabulous. Every time I visit, the manager, Guillaume, greets me with the traditional double-kiss. He is very charming and very French, and quite excellent at his job. I have visited several times and always had really good service.
Pricing here is pretty average. Appetizers will run you around $7, and mains, between $12-15.
Left Bank a great addition to the neighbourhood.
751 Denman Street, Vancouver BC
Monday – Sunday: open from 4:30pm until late
Saturday and Sunday weekend brunch, from 10.30am to 2.30pm