Left Bank Brasserie 507 Magnolia Ave./Ward St., (415) 927-3331. L-D daily; $$. Reservations advised. Valet parking F-Sat D. The vintage 1895 building this atmospheric Parisian-style brasserie is located within--known as the Blue Rock Inn--is in this small town’s Historic District. A restaurant has operated on its ground floor since the early 1900s. The building’s name is derived from its blue rock façade, which was quarried from the base of Mount Tamalpais.
Today’s airy restaurant retains the original pressed-tin ceiling and often greets diners with a welcoming fire in its massive stone fireplace. Theater posters enliven the walls, and clocks above the bar tell time locally as well as in Tahiti, Montreal, and Lyon (the chef’s hometown). In good weather, outdoor dining on the veranda fronting the town’s quiet main street is a pleasant option.
The menu is rustic, unfussy cuisine grand-mère, or “grandma’s cooking,” and portions are big. Lunch is sandwiches, a hamburger Américain, salads, and a few entrees. Dinner brings on signature dishes: bouillabaisse, rotisserie chicken, steak frites. Cocktails include a Pamplemousse (grapefruit vodka with 7-Up) and 12 kinds of pastis. Apple tarte tatin, Bing cherry clafouti, and molten chocolate cake are among the scrumptious endings. Special events are often scheduled. Currently, Sunday Supper begins each weekend at 4 p.m. Three courses are priced at $32, plus an additional $4 for a paired glass of wine. What a deal! Diners get a choice of several salads and desserts, but the main course is scheduled. When I visited, it was Coq au Vin (restaurant’s recipe)—marinated for 36 hours and long cooked so that the meat fell off the bones.
It was a delicious, bountiful portion, with enough left over to take home for another lighter meal. For the main course my dining partner and I both chose the crispy butter lettuce house salad with tasty Dijon mustard vinaigrette dressing,
but for dessert we shared our choices of classic crème brulee and profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate sauce.
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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers