As I left Leon’s Full Service for the first time, I looked back at the locals who still packed the patio with envy. Granted, it is only 15-20 minutes from my place in Buckhead. But considering how often I intend to come back, I should probably just save myself the gas and look into breaking my lease.
Upon arriving on the Friday night that my girlfriend and I went to the first come, first served neighborhood pub, it was apparent we were a little behind the 8-ball in discovering this place. It was packed. Since we were staring down a 1.5 hour wait, we decided to pony up to the bar.
It is not often that I would cite a cocktail as THE highlight of an overall fantastic meal, but I might just have to in this case. If you are a bourbon drinker (as I am) and you love bacon (as you should), then don’t leave here without trying the Benton’s Old Fashioned. They save the drippings from all of the Benton’s country ham and bacon used in their various dishes and soak it overnight in bourbon. They then freeze the mixture and cut off the solidified fat, leaving behind a bourbon that is deliciously rich with the smoky and meaty taste of the bacon. This balances beautifully with the maple syrup and bitters to make a cocktail that you can’t get anywhere else in town.
*Side note* - The bacon-bourbon easy to duplicate at home. I have gone through more than one bottle of it since originally writing this review, but that is a post for another day….
The pub frites are a great way to start the meal, and there is a wide selection of great dipping sauces to pair with them. We had the smokey Leon’s BBQ sauce, goat cheese fondue, and the black pepper mayo. I would recommend all of them.
Next, we munched on the Pig Smorgas, which was probably my favorite dish that we ordered. The country ham, melted gruyere, cherry jam, and pineapple all blend wonderfully. The salty smokiness is cut by the sharp gruyere, balanced by the sweetness of the cherry and pineapples, and the crunchy toast gives it a nice texture. I honestly considered bypassing a main dish and just ordering four more of them.
I was really eyeballing the beef brisket sandwich for my main dish, but I went with the waiter’s recommendation and had the Beef Bistro steak instead, which was really the only lackluster part of the meal. “Lackluster” may be a little harsh…it just wasn’t AS great as everything else. I think the bread was just a little too thick, which gave the sandwich a dryness that was a distraction from the otherwise nice flavor combinations of the roasted red peppers and the horseradish mayo.
Overall, this place is great for dinner, for drinks, or for both. But I guess that’s kind of the idea with the whole Gastropub thing, and they pull it off wonderfully.
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