Every time we return from a cruise, I get the urge to walk out of a restaurant without paying. I guess it is less prevalent now due to specialty dining and their extra cost. But in the end, it takes time to adjust. The funniest example was when my then 5-year old daughter chased after our server at Hart House demanding dessert (just a few days after we returned from our cruise in 2012). I also believe she wished we had a soft serve machine in our kitchen as well. This time around, it wasn't so much all about the ice cream, rather, we just wanted to have a good sit down meal with all 3 courses. We ended up heading to Left Bank on Denman.
Seeing that my son lives on fresh bread, we got an order of the Bread and Butter where the spread was applied in between the slits prior to toasting. Hence, each slice (other than the ends) was graced with cafe de Paris buttery goodness on both sides. Texturally, the baguette was pillowy soft inside and crusty on the outside. As my son was enjoying his bread, the rest of the table (including my daughter) were feasting on the buttery smooth Tuna Tartare which was accented by avocado and tomatoes while dressed in sesame oil. The subtle flavours didn't overwhelm the tuna, but the slight acidity from the tomatoes helped liven things up. The crunch from the toasted rice crackers was the ideal match for the soft mixture.
Another stellar appie was the Chicken Liver & Foie Gras Parfait served with grilled bread. This was by far the star of the appetizer show. Light but creamy and rich at the same time, the sweet parfait was balanced by the inherent liver essence. As if there wasn't enough umami and aroma going on, the honeycomb gelee added a layer of sweet wine-like flavour as well. Somewhat surprising, the Fried Chicken Bites were really good. It was almost an after thought addition, but each "finger" was fried up firmly crispy while the chicken was succulent. The maple chipotle dip provided a sweet and spicy kick.
For my main, I had the Steak Frites featuring a Newport steak and Szechaun peppercorn sauce. As much as the sliced steak itself was rather small, there was enough crispy frites to make up for it. They weren't overly crunchy though retaining a fluffy potato texture. The steak itself was prepared medium-rare as requested, where it was sufficiently tender. I found the sauce to be well-balanced and not as tongue-numbing as expected from Szechuan peppercorns. Served in a large pot, Viv's Thai Coconut Curry Steamed Mussels were a sight to behold. The plump honey mussels were bursting with meat that was barely cooked. They were naturally sweet and further enhanced by the very mild coconut broth. We would've liked to see more curry, yet the dish was still stellar.
My mom had probably the weakest item of our meal being the Scallops and Prawns with risotto, beurre blanc, herb salad and root veggies. There was nothing inherently wrong with the seafood as the scallops were buttery while the meaty prawns exhibited a sweet snap. It was the clumpy and dense risotto that killed the dish. It was definitely cheesy and well-seasoned, but it didn't spread at all. Both my dad and daughter went for the Cedar Plank Salmon. We were surprised to see not one, but two pieces of expertly prepared salmon on the cedar plank. Flaky and moist, the salmon was well-seasoned all-the-way through and further spiked with maple butter.
Ever since our Hawaii vacation, my son has decided to add Braised Short Ribs to his repertoire of eats. And if you haven't already noticed, both kids ordered off the main menu (things just got more expensive from this point on). Well, he practically mauled this one as it was fork tender where the braising liquid had penetrated all-the-way-through. To further enhance the already rich flavour, the residual thickened jus was plenty salty and full of root veggie depth. On that note, all the carrots, parsnips and turnips were on point being firm while tender to the bite.
Onto the sweets, we were initially apprehensive in getting the Blueberry Cheesecake since blueberry is often lost in the shuffle. Not here by any stretch of the imagination. It was impactful and an added acidity made them come alive. Combined with the smooth and lightly sweet cheese cake, this completely worked. Super rich, the Chocolate Torte ate very heavy while subtly sweet. In fact, we thought the ganache was a bit too dense. Whatever the case, it was chocolaty with a slight bitterness which was only intermittently accented by sugar. Overall, we were quite pleased with our meal at Left Bank. Portions were generous while the proteins were mainly on point.
- Generous portions
- On point proteins
- Wonderful service
- Possibly a touch salty
- Risotto wasn't good