Never eat in a hip restaurant. It is a lesson that we learned long ago. There seems to be a negative correlation between level of hipness and quality of food.
Left Bank may well be Muscat's hippest hangout. We understand its appeal. It is quite possibly the only place in Muscat that is not part of a hotel, is licensed to sell alcohol, has a nice atmosphere and has a great outside seating area. We like going there for a drink or two, but have always been disappointed by the food. Even to such an extend, that if people wanted to meet there, we'd make sure we had dinner before, just to avoid the frustration of having to put Left Bank's food into our mouths.
But we felt the restaurant deserved another chance. So we revisited last week. We brought some friends along, in order to be able to try as many dishes from the menu as we could. The starters were a mixed bag. A dish of fried salmon with black olive tapenade tasted alright, but overcooked. Feta and pumpkin salad was very basic, but not all bad; the pumpkin was horribly overcooked and the feta tasted more like yoghurt, but the combination did sort of work, in a twisted way. It went downwards with a fried lump of Goat's Cheese (which could have been alright if it wouldn't have been the only thing on the plate) and Falafel of sweet potatoes with mint sauce. Nothing wrong with the mint sauce, but the falafel were a terrible mistake. Mashed into a glue-like substance, moulded into rounds and fried. This had nothing to do with falafel and tasted more or less like, well, snot.
It didn't improve much with the main courses. The House Salad was nothing more than a pile of green leaves. Hard to do anything wrong there, but hardly exciting either. Fish & Chips are alright, but taste like they've been left on the counter a bit too long before serving. A piece of Salmon Steak was served on beautifully cooked, crispy snow peas and green beans. The salmon itself was overcooked. Again. It was accompanied by a butter/chardonnay sauce, that was overly fat as well as extremely sour, due to an excessive amount of lemon juice. All in all, not a very succesfull dish, although it was not nearly as bad as the Chicken breast, stuffed with ricotta, spinach, turkey bacon and sun-dried tomatoes, served with sautéed potatoes and mushroom cream sauce. Sounds like a lovely mediterranean dish, doesn't it? Although you could wonder what a mushroom sauce has to do with it. Unfortunately, it didn't taste half as sunny as it sounded. It was a mess. The chicken breast was dry, the turkey didn't add any flavour but salt, the sun-dried tomatoes were unrecognizable, and mushrooms added an earthy flavour that was highly unpleasant. We could also moan about the spinach not being part of the stuffing (as promised) but served underneath, but we really don't think it would have mattered. This dish summed up all the reasons why we haven't eaten here for such a long time.
Due to an upcoming menu change, there were not many desserts available. But we could get some crème brûlée outside of the menu. It was a bit too stiff, but not too bad.
We tried it. But we are quite sure that we will never dine in Left Bank again. If food makes you angry, it is better not to eat it. Now that the cooler months are coming in, we will go there for a drink though. Nothing wrong with those.