Wednesday, May 02, 2007

left bank

Having finished up my unwise shop in Urban Outfitters last night, myself and my friend Sam headed to a restaurant in Santana Row for dinner. As I mentioned, everything there is decorous and flash, but the food, as is the trend here, was not too pricey - so we found a French restaurant by the name of 'Left Bank' for dinner.

Being in a more high-end part of town, where European sophistication is seen as a recommendation not a slur, (the big hotel in Santana Row is the Hotel Valencia), we were pleased to find that for the first occasion the 'all-American experience' was not on the menu, although - a brief flirtation with an unfriendly waitress aside - the service came up to the usually high, occasionally stifling, standards we'd become used to this side of the Atlantic. The waiter, who elected not to affect a French accent (although this was the only aspect of the restaurant where conspicuous Frenchiness was not on offer) was immediately upon us, complicating matters by adding to the depth of choice on the wonderful menu by seducing us with offers of lobster and other delightful specials.

To start with, I went for the mussels, steamed in a white wine sauce with shallots and spinach. Of course, perhaps the best thing about being on the Pacific coast is the awesome array of seafood on offer, so it was no surprise that the meat was huge, rich and incredibly tender, delicately drenched in the delicious sauce. I scooped handful after handful of sour dough bread into the juice and demolished the results. Of course, the starter was roughly the same size as a generous main course, so I gave up after a while and concentrated on my wine.

My main course was a delightfully rare and tender duck in orange sauce with rice - the meat was terrific, although it's hard to avoid the conclusion that as awesome as much American food seems to be, they still can't cook rice. Or rather, they can but use a different grain and a quite different style - it works okay, in truth, with Mexican or Cajun cuisine, but I'm not sure American Long Grain rice cuts the mustard with proper French food. Nevertheless, the main course was very nice indeed.

Finishing up, we decided to get a cab to a micro-brewery not far from our hotel, but remembered on the way that to get served in an American bar one invariably needs ID, and we didn't have our passports with us. So we paused at the hotel to pick them up, allowing me to don my new and profoundly silly jacket, and hot-footed it up past the museum towards the North of the downtown area, which we hadn't traversed yet. Noting with interest but no alarm the number of police cars cruising the streets, we found the road, decorated in a tribute to the San Jose Sharks, but found our bar closed at the ludicrously early time of half eleven. Happily the Irish, unlike Americans, do know how to drink in the classic British Isles style, so we located an Irish bar and Sam, to his delight, managed to procure a decent pint of Boddingtons, of all things.

For my part, I ended the night with a Sierra Nevada (which I remember little better than the one I had the other day, except that it was rich and strong), some injudiciously imparted gossip, and a lusty singalong of 'Happy Birthday' for the barmaid which, because everyone in the pub seemed to be very drunk indeed, was sung at half-pace.

1 comment:

Dustin said...

More on beer: you really should try a Sierra Nevada when you aren't 3 sheets to the wind. It's, if forced, my all time favourite. And oddly enough, you can buy it for £1.50 a bottle at Waitrose or Tesco! Weird, eh? Cheerio.