Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Leon's Full Service



          Leon’s Full Service is one of the number one hipster-pub restaurants in Decatur.  Built in an old gas station, Leon’s features an elegant bar, indoor dining, outdoor patio seating, and also a sort of half and half room that’s inside but the windows are always open (creating a kind of roomy summer porch feeling).  Leon’s also has a bocce playing area right outside the restaurant on the corner of Church Street and East Ponce.  My parents and I went to Leon’s in a mood for stuffing ourselves with really good food without thinking about the consequences.  When we’re in the mood to eat “good,” we don’t hold back.
          We started with a three cheese plate.  The names of the cheeses were so hard to pronounce that we had no actual idea what we were ordering, so our (very friendly) waitress picked her three favorites.  We had a really hard, sharp gouda, a softer brie, and a creamy rich goat cheese. (Again, I have no idea of the cheeses’ actual names.)  The cheeses themselves were nice, but the really mouthwatering part was the warm, crisp, freshly baked bread and the homemade whipped butter and fruit compote that went along.  With our cheese board we had a bucket of Leon’s signature “frites,” which are just well made fancy French fries.  The best part about getting the frites is the mile long list of amazing dipping sauces they have on the menu.  We picked the three most interesting on the list: massaman curry (a creamy sauce that perfectly mimics the Indian curry), goat cheese fondue (a rich sauce with a bitter hint of goat’s milk), and then the bacon herb mayonnaise. (The name says it all.  It’s a thick, fatty bacon dip.)
          For Leon’s entrées, they have a selection of fancy sandwiches, and then they have the more expensive, more formal main dishes.  I’ve seen the main dishes change over time on the menu depending on seasonal vegetables and fruits as well as market availability, but it usually stays about the same.  On this particular visit, my Dad ordered the scallops, my mom ordered the less expensive beef brisket sandwich, and I had the trout.  My mom’s came out styled sort of pub food-like.  The sweet pulled beef sopped into her thickly sliced bread.  My dad got four huge scallops served over a rice polenta, that he enjoyed.  Four scallops were just enough, and the texture of the polenta was impressive.  Now, my entrée.  My entrée… I’ll start with the best part: the greens.  I had the most flavorful local kale.  I’m pretty sure it had been cooked in steak drippings and white wine, and it was heavily salted and peppered, but that kale was the best vegetable I had ever had.  It wasn’t overcooked and flavorless, but it wasn’t undercooked and raw either.  It still had a beautiful crunch, and tons of bitter kale flavor was balanced out by the steak flavor and salt.  Along with the kale I had fingerling potatoes that were simply boiled and covered in butter, salt, and herbs.  They were a little bland, but they were a nice base starch that balanced out the dish and toned down the other intricate flavors.  They too had a nice texture, so that when I bit into them the skin popped. And now about my fish.  It was a fresh trout filet that was butchered so that there wasn’t a single bone, and so that I got a tasty skin that held in the juicy goodness of the trout.  They cooked the fish in a way that I cannot.  It was flaky and tender, but it didn’t fall apart when your fork touched it.  The greatest part was that the trout didn’t have that slimy, almost grassy, fish taste that trout can have.  A forkful of kale and fish was so crunchy, salty, flavorful, and enjoyable that I made sure to ration out the plate so I had the perfect ratio of each element for my last bite. 
          After the main course my parents and I were stuffed and content, so obviously the only logical way to proceed would be to order dessert.  I must admit that while I could hardly choose my entrée because there were so many appealing options, the dessert menu didn’t quite match up. Nevertheless, we ordered two desserts to share.  Our first was the bread pudding with an “earl grey crème anglaise.”  I really only ordered it because I’m obsessed with earl grey tea.  We also ordered the strawberry, rhubarb cobbler.  My family likes cobblers; that was the only appeal.  While we waited for the desserts to come out our stomachs settled and we realized we weren’t still hungry at all, but we devoured our desserts anyway.  The bread pudding was okay, but it just kind of tasted like sweet soggy bread in a fancy cup.  The earl grey crème anglaise that I was so excited about turned out to just be whipped cream.  The cobbler, however, was magnificent.  I’d never had rhubarb before because I’d heard it was bitter and sharp tasting, but the rhubarb in the cobbler was sweet.  It didn’t just taste like warm jelly under some dough.  Atop the fruit was a soft, buttery crust, and atop that was their homemade whipped crème that was really good. 
          Unfortunately, at the end of the meal our bill had to come.  It definitely wasn't cheap, but I was so full and happy that I didn’t care. (Not that it was my money anyway…) After this visit to Leon’s, I’ve realized that it is definitely one of my favorite restaurants in Decatur.  So take your date, some friends, or treat your family to a nice dinner and a drunken game of Bocce at Leon’s Full Service in Decatur.  

Til next time!
The Teenage Foodie

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