Thursday, November 18, 2010

Left Bank Café

The other night my daughter and I decided to try something new for Mommy/daughter night out and were downtown, so we thought we would hit Left Bank.  I have read a few things about it and knew they had crepes, which always intrigues me.  It is a little café right on the canal at Michigan and Indiana.
Left Bank is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner I believe, and my guess from our visit is that dinner is not their big money maker because we were the only ones in there. A couple of people stopped in for coffee or a pastry, but no one else sat down the whole time we were there.  It was quite chilly the night we ate here, so we opted to sit inside which is very small and simple—my guess is the real appeal is sitting out along the canal during nice weather.  They have a lovely outdoor seating area with quite a bit of seating.
I ordered the apple and leek crepe with walnuts, clover honey and a gorgonzola cream sauce that was served on the side. I also ordered a cup of French onion soup because it was so cold outside!  The soup came out first and was extremely hot.  Once it cooled down a bit, I enjoyed it. It was chock full of onions in the classic broth and had a round of toast and cheese on top, in classic French onion soup style.  I liked the cheesy bread—it was nice and melty and tasted good with the rich beefy broth.

While I enjoyed the soup, I was let down with the crepe.  I thought the flavor combination sounded quite intriguing because it was unique and because I love fruit with blue cheese. And of course, I am always a fan of leeks.  The crepe looked like it had some buckwheat flour in it (it wasn’t totally white) which I generally like, but honestly, the crepe was so stuffed with the ingredients, you couldn’t even taste the crepe much.  This is an example of the type of crepes I don’t like, and why I don’t order them very often.  I like to be able to really taste the flavor of the crepe itself and have much less of the ingredients inside—I like them to be almost flat, and this one was as fat as a giant burrito.  And while I liked all the ingredients in it, there was just too much of them.  The gorgonzola cream sauce was nice, but could have used a little more of the blue cheese flavor in it to make it really stand out against the sweetness of the fruit.  There was also a side of very cold pasta salad that didn't really excite me, particularly with how cold it was outside.  It had a pesto-ish flavor once it warmed up a bit.
Our server was quite friendly and joked around with my daughter (who had a grilled cheese with a lovely fruit salad on the side) and was literally, right there when we needed something (remember, there was no one else there).  However, at one point, my daughter came and whispered in my ear, “Mommy, this place is kind of slow!”  And she was right.  It took quite a long time to get our food.  I am pretty sure there was only one person cooking in the kitchen, but really, with just two of us, I was surprised it took as long as it did.
I have seen a fair amount of press about this place, and most of it has been fairly positive—so of course I want to hear from you guys about it. And I am wondering if they get a decent crowd at lunchtime.  Anyone else been there?
Left Bank Café
310 West Michigan Street
Indy  46202

Left Bank Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. That crepe is huge! I thought it was a baked potato when I looked at the photo. I've been curious about this place. It looks like it might be worth checking out.

  2. The patronage of Left Bank was pretty good over the summer but went in the tank with the weather, which I'm sure they expected and (hopefully) planned for. Until there is a critical mass of destinations on the canal, places like Left Bank will have to essentially be seasonal operations. I question whether it's wise to even stay open during the winter, but this isn't exactly an ice cream stand that you and close and restart with a new wave of high school summer workers each year.

    As for the restaurant itself, we've probably been there over a dozen times and it's hit or miss, both with the service and the food. At its best, the food can be very, very good. There's an andouille sausage flatbread that I think is wonderful. Then again, there was one time we ordered it and we were disappointed with a paltry number of sausage slices and a crust that was not cooked enough.

    I really want to support this place because eating canal-side is a very enjoyable and unique experience. I hope they last and continue to smooth out their uneven quality.

  3. I honestly thought that was a burrito before I started reading the review.

  4. My husband and I live on the canal and we very excited about the Left Bank Cafe opening but we were let down when we visited the first time. We stopped by during a walk to grab a couple of coffees to go. For a cafe their choices were very limited. I ordered a Latte and my husband ended up getting a smoothie. We waited for 10 minutes for our drinks. The whole time we were the only guests there but there were about 7 employees. They were all messing around, acting like we weren't important enough to act professional in front of. It made us feel very uncomfortable.

    We're waiting until the Spring to try it again. Maybe the trick is coming with a lot of other people and sitting down (outside of course, so the employees can joke around inside comfortably).

  5. Gary---I bought a gift certificate on, then went there. As others said, it was a little sparse inside on a blustery winter day, but the food and service was great. The cheesecake was outstanding! My wife is a cheescake conniseur and we inquired about ordering a whole cheescake. Server gave us the contact info to order and buy it direct from their supplier, one of their employees. Once again great! We will be back!