Before I enter Left Bank, a new wine bar and shop—before I can even see it—I am charmed. I’ve just crossed the South Park Bridge, over the Duwamish River, and Left Bank’s name—which invokes both Paris’s and Bordeaux’s “left banks”—reads as both self-effacing (I just passed a tire factory) and fitting—the wine is largely old-world, with a focus on naturally produced French bottles. The shop feels about as big as a micro studio, which is to say: a tiny bar with lots of records, a wall of bottles, a nook with padded seats.
Owner and sole employee Campbell Scarborough wanted a place that fits into his home neighborhood, so he’s kept everything small and approachable. That means affordable—bottles generally run $10 and $25; the bottle club is $80 for six wines a month, accompanied by tasting notes and a Spotify playlist. That means relaxed—you can bring in food and Scarborough has plans for food trucks out front. And that means community centered—Tuesdays are Vinyl Wino: you bring a record and Scarborough spins it in the shop.
The city has had a new breed of wine bar opening lately, reacting against what they see as snobbery, pretense, and exclusion in conventional wine—each neighborhood spot presents a different shade of anti-swank. That could be Vita Uva’s golden cat-adorned counter in the new Phở Bắc Súp Shop, or Vif’s coffee shop/wine bar hybrid in Fremont, or Beacon Hill’s Wine Station.
Scarborough figures wine culture has an “inherent stiffness that doesn’t really jive with the majority of Seattleites I know. They like their dive bars and cheap beer, or craft beer.” And he thinks natural wine culture has uprooted that to a degree: “It’s drink this bottle tonight. And yeah, it’s way more fun and tastes better.”
Fun, yes, so while you can talk low-intervention gamay at Left Bank, you can also grab a $3 Rainier or a $5 house red. You know, like the neighborhood bar it is.