Brasserie=Beer

White linen-covered tables, outdoor patio, large selection of alcohol, and classic French cuisine.

When one walks into a brasserie, they could expect a large bustling scene with full-service staff along with all of the above offerings.

What makes a brasserie different from a bistro?

A bistro is an intimate, quaint restaurant in an unassuming setting with homestyle cooking. A brasserie is a large, full-service restaurant with a fixed menu and a large selection of drinks. It almost always includes outdoor seating as well. They are open every day of the week and serve the same menu all day. Although most consider these to be slightly nuanced versions of each other, there are some polarizing differences.

History of Brasserie

Brasserie – the word itself is French for ‘brewery’ since there were in-house breweries offered on the premises. In 1901 Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language defined “brasserie” as “in France, any beer-garden or saloon”. In 2000 The New Penguin English Dictionary included this definition of “brasserie”: “a small informal French-style restaurant”.

Evolution of Brasserie

Typically, brasseries today do not offer in-house brewing. Here at Left Bank, it is not as beer-centric, but we still offer a great selection of beer on tap, wine, along with traditional and specialty-crafted cocktails. Some classic offerings at Left Bank are steak tartare, oysters, mussels, charcuterie, and steak frites.

You’ll still be exposed to the traditional brasserie vibe, with a dining experience familiar to that in France. So next time you come into Left Bank, come and enjoy a beer and some steak frites with us!

American Bar: A Brasserie Story

While Left Bank is a French brasserie, some of you may be wondering why the phrase ‘American Bar’ is emblazoned on the exterior of our restaurant.

Just to give a little backstory, a brasserie is typically a French restaurant that offers a large selection of beer and wine. At an American restaurant, you’ll find a full bar with various cocktails and drink offerings.

Left Bank offers a traditional brasserie setting with a full range of drink selections of a modern American restaurant – hence the name ‘American Bar’.

While we have French classics like pastis and lillet, we also offer specialty cocktails like the ‘Cucumber Angelita’, a tequila drink or the ‘Carte Blanche’, which has bourbon. These are drinks that you will not see at a typical French brasserie.

Classics cocktails, such as our LB Martini, margarita, and manhattan are served on our happy hour menu. Here at Left bank, you can enjoy a classic French spread, while still drinking your favorite cocktails. Feel free to join us for your next happy hour or afternoon pick me up!

Pastis

It is a casual Wednesday afternoon, what does one order at a French brasserie?

Pastis is a French drink that embodies the leisurely lifestyle of the South of France. 

Originating back to 1915 was the prohibition of absinthe and anise-based spirits, due to its lethal nature. After 17 years, pastis emerged as France’s newest burgeoning alcoholic drink, thanks to the lifting of a ban of mild anise-based spirits.  

Not to be confused with absinthe, pastis is an anise-flavored aperitif that is redefining the term “afternoon pick me up”. Those with a penchant for anise and licorice flavor will be sure to enjoy the pastis drinking experience. 

In France, it is enjoyed as an aperitif, meaning before a meal. Pastis contains about 40-45% in ABV. 

All that is needed to enjoy this drink is sugar, ice, and water. Served on the rocks, water is also used to dilute this heavy-proof spirit into a milky yellow color, while a sugar cube is added for sweetness. 

Brie

While French cuisine is known to contain a long list of delicious cheeses, including well-known varieties such as Camembert and Munster, today we will be highlighting one of most famous soft cheeses anywhere in the world—Brie! Commonly referred to as the “King/Queen of Cheeses,” mostly due to its immense popularity with French royalty and its rich history in France, Brie derives its name from the northern region of France with the same name, even though this region has since been split into three separate regions and renamed. A pale yellow cheese with a white rind that is just as delicious as the middle of the cheese itself, Brie is known to have multiple varieties, ranging in flavor depending on where it comes from and the ingredients used to produce it.

 

Flavor and Nutrition

Before diving into the different varieties of Brie and good wine pairings, we should discuss the basic flavor profile and nutritional aspects of cheese.

First, the Brie that is typically consumed in the United States is different from the Brie that is consumed throughout Europe, primarily because the United States uses pasteurized milk for Brie, while most European countries use unpasteurized milk for their cheese. Despite this, Brie is typically made with whole or semi-skimmed cow’s milk, which helps produce a cheese that has a sweet and nutty flavor, as well as a buttery and creamy texture. Along with this, Brie cheese is actually meant to be eaten with the rind included, delivering a unique combination of textures, as well as a slight tangy flavor to balance out the sweetness. Overall, while Brie’s flavor and texture produce a delicious soft cheese, as far as soft cheeses go, the smell and flavor are not too overpowering, which makes it a good soft cheese to begin with during cheese tasting.

Second, the nutritional qualities of Brie cheese also make it a great snack or ingredient for a recipe. While cheese is well-known to be an amazing source of calcium and various minerals, Brie specifically is known to be a great source of protein, as well as vitamin B12 and B2.

 

Brie Varieties

Before we discuss the different varieties of Brie cheese you might come across, it’s important to explain what it means for a cheese to have an “AOC” certification in France, especially since Brie is a cheese that originates in France. Like wine, cheese is considered to have terroir, which refers to the regional character a product has based on environmental factors, farming practices, and other specific characteristics. Based on this concept of terroir, the French government awards certain products the label of “appellation d’origine contrôlée” (AOC), which gives the product a guarantee of its specific terroir characteristics.

With this in mind, there are two varieties of Brie that have the AOC certification, this includes Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun. While both of these types of Brie received this certification in 1980 and are made with unpasteurized milk, they each have their own unique history and flavor. Known to be made in the town of Meaux since the 8th century, Brie de Meaux is the bigger size out of these two, and is typically the one that is considered to have given Brie its nickname of the “King/Queen of Cheeses.” On the other hand, you will find that Brie de Melun typically has a stronger smell and taste.

Even though Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun are the only French Brie that have the AOC certification, there also exists multiple other varieties. Some of the most common other French varieties include Brie de Montereau, Brie de Provins, Brie de Melun bleu, and Brie noir.

Other than French Brie, there are also some types of Brie that are produced all around the world, which includes regions such as Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Brazil.

 

Wine Pairing

Based on the flavor and texture, a classic red wine pairing for Brie is a Pinot Noir, specifically because the low tannin level and subtle sweetness of a Pinot Noir will help bring out the flavor of the cheese without overwhelming it. Along with the Pinot Noir, another good pairing that is typically less common for Brie is a white Port. Although Ports tend to have incredibly strong and sweet fruit flavors, the white Port, with an aroma of apples and raisins, as well as a particularly smooth sweetness, works well with the Brie cheese, especially for dessert.

 

Brie, Brie, and More Brie!

Here at Left Bank we love Brie. As a classic French soft cheese, we include Brie in dishes such as our Fondue Aux Fromages. Since there is an incredible amount of recipes that utilize Brie, we encourage all of our readers to find what they like best. Even if you do not find a recipe that you like with Brie, it is also one of the best soft cheeses to eat with bread and crackers as a simple snack, especially with a glass of wine.

Come stop by Left Bank today and see how much we love Brie!