First Look

First Look at Brasserie La Banque

By: Hannah Lee Leidy

A French Affair on Broad

Soon, Charleston welcomes a classical French restaurant in the form of Brasserie La Banque, from Steve Palmer of Indigo Road Hospitality, which will be helmed by chef Jeb Aldrich, previously of the acclaimed Tiny Lou’s in Atlanta. Housed in the historic antebellum Broad Street building, the quintessential neighborhood brasserie complements the architecture of the restored former bank in its design with leather banquettes, plush velvet seating, and vintage ambient lighting. It evokes a sense of “warmth and approachability”the same feelings Aldrich aims to bring to guests through his food.

But the real stunner is the menu, arranged in five sections in the style of a classic French brasserie. At the raw bar, you’ll find local and regional oysters, a local shrimp cocktail with espelette, and a yellowfin tuna escabeche dotted with english peas and served with wonton. The hors d’oeuvres section boasts a porcini mushroom tart with European-sourced funghi, beef tartare, duck consommé poured tableside over foie gras dumplings, and crépes with Comté cheese, an item that will be rotated for a plethora of crépe creations.

Find comforting classics in the butcher section like steak frites, heritage breed poulet rouge, and a duck confit cassoulet lightened up for summer with local lady peas, leeks, and candied garlic jus. One of the more distinctive French dishes is in the seafood selection: whole roasted loup de mer, otherwise known as sea bass, served in a harissa beurre monté. Finally, sides for the table include classic pommes frites, seasonal vegetable gnocchi, and a bone marrow bread pudding to look forward to. And a tip from the chef holding court in the open kitchen: Save room for their signature dessert, a 30-layer crépe cake dripping with local strawberries and a twist of sumac sugar. 

With each dish, Aldrich goes back to the roots of French cooking employing techniques acquired while working under famed chef Joël Antunes in Atlanta before cooking in eateries in Austria and Italy to produce a menu with both approachable and remarkably distinct offerings to Charleston. While there’s a sure-to-be-popular steak frites inspired by a restaurant in Paris that only sells the staple dish, there’s also an innovative foie gras torchon rolled up with black cocoa and topped with apple Parisienne. Here, there seems to be something for everyone–exactly as a neighborhood brasserie should be. 

Brasserie La Banque opens for dinner November 30, at 1 Broad Street, and the subterranean bar concept, Bar Vauté is open now for a taste of the menu and a few bar comforts including a vault burger and French onion grilled cheese. Check out the full menu below.

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