Spokane has some great places to taste wine, but Left Bank, which opened eighteen months ago in downtown Spokane and is owned by Aaron Kelly, is the only bar that is completely dedicated to wine. You can not order hard liquor here (bottled microbrew beer is available for those who have been dragged in against their will by a wine lover), and the menu is limited to a few choice items that are well complemented by wine. What you can expect is excellent wine served by knowledgeable, friendly servers in a beautiful, comfortable setting.
The goal of Left Bank is “to broaden the appeal of wine in a completely non-threatening way,” and this goal is achieved nightly with a well-appointed yet relaxed atmosphere and the staff’s open, down-to-earth attitude. Walk into the long, narrow space located on the ground floor of the historic American Legion building at 108 N. Washington, and you will instantly forget the hustle and bustle of downtown and enter a scene of dark wood furniture, a fireplace, local art on the historic brick walls, and non-intrusive music. Jen Melcher, our server on a recent evening, was able to explain the origin and qualities of my wonderful Argentine malbec (only $5 a glass during happy hour, which starts at 3:00 p.m. Monday—Friday) in a way that a novice could understand. While Left Bank does carry many Northwest wines, the overriding mission is to seek the best wines, so their wine list includes selections from all over the world.
If you try something you really love at Left Bank, you can bring a bottle home. The reason for this, Jen explained, is that the bar carries some wines that are not easily available in Spokane. Many area wineries are too small to meet the financial criteria for distribution to stores, so Left Bank deals with them directly to purchase wine, and they choose to support the wineries by allowing off-sales.
The food pairings, though limited, are extremely tasty. I highly recommend the cheese plates, which come with a selection of some of the best cheese I have ever tasted (order the Humboldt Fog!) served with crackers and fruit, and the gorgonzola honey bruschetta, which my dining partner is convinced she could live off of quite happily for some time. Other dining choices are small pizzas and Italian style sandwiches.
Fridays and Saturdays the bar livens things up with live music; every Saturday is jazz. Hours are Monday—Friday, 11:00 a.m. to late, and Saturdays 4:00 p.m. to late. Check them out during First Friday! A reception will be held for Jon Bagby’s work on October 1.