I recently got to eat at Leon’s Full Service. I had been hearing some hype about the new restaurant and was excited that a friend requested to have her birthday dinner there. With over 15 people listed for the dinner party I decided to call ahead to determine whether or not they could handle dietary needs. Generally the receptionist will hand off the phone to a manager but I was pleasantly surprised that the receptionist was able to answer all my questions. She informed me that they make everything from scratch and can easily deal with dietary restrictions. She also mentioned one of the waitresses was also gluten-free and made sure the kitchen handled all allergens appropriately. Great- I was ready to go! Now I just had to wait the couple days until the party…
Finally the day came and my roommate and I made our way through the freezing temperatures to the restaurant (Note: Decatur in the winter is not great due to all the walking involved). But before I really start bragging on the food I must mention the one minor negative. Leon’s doesn’t offer reservations and is a quite small restaurant. So with 15 people the wait for a table was quite long. But even still, standing cramped together in the bar area the time seemed to pass quickly. The atmosphere is relaxed and social. The bar menu is posted on giant chalkboards on the wall where they also offer staff favorites. The intricate beer names and types keeps you busy for awhile.
Finally after an hour and half wait we get seated. They squeezed us into a back booth which we were lucky enough to not mind. Being prepared I had already looked at the menu before hand and determined some items that looked most likely gluten/diary/soy free; however the waitress changed all that. I had planned on ordering the pork chops but she insisted that the burger was amazing. Almost half the price of the chops I decided to take her up on the idea and ordered a burger without the bun. To add some flavor to it I added pickled onions as a topping. My roommate and I decided to split an order of fries as an appetizer.
Leon’s serves up a bucket of fries with your choice of two different sauces (one if the fries are a side item). With 14 different sauce selections we were baffled of how to narrow it down. We finally settled on the garlic aioli and BBQ sauce (another recommendation from the waitress).
I must admit that I’m generally not a condiment or sauce person. I don’t like ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish or most sauces except for BBQ. But I decided to branch out and test the creamy, saucy waters.
When the fries arrived I gingerly dipped one into the garlic aioli, still determining if I should be grossed out that I was eating mayo. The first bite was intriguing, by the third I was hooked. The garlic flavor was fresh and delicate. The aioli was creamy and light, perfect for topping just about anything. It blew my mind that a mayo could be so heavenly. It made me wonder where my taste buds had been all these years.
Once I recovered from the flavor immersion, the BBQ sauce and ketchup were next. The BBQ sauce was a perfect balance of sweet and smoky. I ended up smearing some on my burger. I decided to really risk it and tried the ketchup – even though I hate ketchup. One bite and I was asking if I could get a jar to go. It was hinted with peppers and not all sweet like processed ketchups. If a salsa and ketchup got together they would have made this.
But I couldn’t keep my mind off the aioli. With each bite the flavor and texture grew. Luckily I ordered fries with my meal so I got to enjoy a second round of fries and sauce J
By the end of the night I was in a food coma of goodness. Yet I hadn’t even tried some many of the other highlights of Leon’s. The next round will have to include cocktails and another selection of sauces - I’m dying to try the masaman curry and bacon & tarragon mayo. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it back soon.
My Tip: A great happy hour spot. Go for the beers/cocktails and French fries. You won’t even realize that you didn’t eat a full meal.