Wednesday, December 2, 2009

GUEST POST! Bocce, Bacon, and Beer (AKA Heaven in Decatur)

It's time for another guest post from "Hog Wild" Brad. Being the city-slicker that I am not, Brad's got access to all the new-fashioned restaurants and such. I will review Applebee's when you're ready for that. Anyway, I always enjoy when he posts. While the views expressed are not the opinions of, they are usually pretty reliable to entertain and/or offend. Enjoy, comment, complain, or compliment. I know Brad appreciates the feedback.

Cheers! -Joe

Over the last couple of years we have all grown slightly bored with the over-priced yet under-executed "Gastro Pub". It's always the same thing:

1. $10-15 appetizers that don't provide a taste for one person.

2. A wait staff that has an air of cockiness, which makes me want to slap them in the face with Rosie O'Donnell's jog bra.

3. Seating that is only comparable to the comfort provided by wearing underwear three sizes too small.

Most importantly, there’s the "You know, they're famous for their ______!", which is soon followed by someone saying "Oh My God! I love this place! You know Jermaine Dupri eats here!" There is nothing worse than watching people follow the leader in a game of complementing over-priced food because a so-called celebrity loves the place. (See my next article "Dining with the Canadians").

This disdain for both purveyors of gruel and their adoring, fad-following sheep makes me want to slam my fork-holding hand in a car door whenever I hear the term "gastro-pub". (Interestingly, I actually did this and have the scars to prove it).

And that's when it happened. Could it be?

Yes, Yes, Yes! (Picture Meg Ryan’s restaurant scene in "When Harry Met Sally"). In case you forgot:


Our story begins with yours truly, a blessed man with the privilege of courting yet another beautiful young lovely.

What was I to do? Her hair smells of lilacs. Her natural, statuesque physique could not be recreated by all the surgeons in Miami. And what? She's working on her doctorate en route to a professorship. I had to make this count. Our first two encounters were nothing more than libation- fueled interactions that I hoped to take to the next level. Yeah, that's right, kids, it's called courting.

What were you thinking, perv?

I scoured the restaurant catacombs in my mind trying to think of the perfect place. Then it hit me. Recently I had an excellent brunch in Decatur. And, we played bocce at this joint. I wondered what their dinner menu was like? Screw it. They've got bocce on the side of the building? It’s on!

I picked up my target, I mean, lady friend, and the night was on.

We arrived just off the Decatur Square, which is Home to All-Things Alternative. We entered by the large, comfortable patio and were met by a non-hipster hostess who seated us immediately. We started with Pub Frites paired with two of Leon's specialty catsups, which is a steal at $5. We enjoyed some of their locally-sourced beers and moved into perfectly prepared mussels ($11). I wolfed down the open-faced brisket ($11) and then we shared a delicious cobbler dessert ($4). In total, my tab was under $40.

Leon's makes a concerted effort to stick to their “locally grown” initiative and I respect that. From locally-made chocolate, locally-brewed beer, and meat from Georgia farms these folks are doing it right.

My relationship with Leon’s grew from a culinary crush to libational love. The bar at Leon's is as charming as any, but it goes above and beyond when they start mixing their potions. Try any of their custom, seasonal creations. I especially loved the cocktail named “Death & Company". Absinthe & Bourbon (Death) combined with the Company of syrup, lemon and bitter. By the way, Death is much better with Company. They also make the best “Manhattan” in Atlanta, hands down. Don’t be afraid to ask your server what they suggest for dinner or drinks, since they actually have expert opinions and are willing to share them.

There was only one problem with my evening and, no, it wasn't that my waiter couldn't help himself from ogling my date. Hell, I couldn't blame him. I'd like to shake her daddy's hand and tell him "Well done, Sir, well done!" The problem: courting involves less alcohol than dating and we were pretty much sober at Leon’s. It seems my lady friend found me much more charming, attractive, and intelligent when our booze-addled brains allowed us to have no accountabilities for our actions. Once again, sobriety had struck a blow against me. Damn.

So there it is my lowly minions: the first restaurant that I cannot and will not bash. I thought it would never happen. If you could see me now, picture a single tear rolling down my cheek like that old Indian (feather) chief that hates litter.

So check it out and try a few of my favorites:

* Bacon in a Glass - $5
* Pub Frites w/ spicy mango catsup and peppercorn gravy - $5
* Mussels - $11
* Slow-roasted beef brisket, black peppercorn gravy, fried onions open faced - $11
* For the liberals (I'm embarrassed to say it): The Earth-seared veggie loaf is great - $14
* Don't forget your Manhattan and Death & Company!

This is one of the best date destinations I know about. Let me know the places that lead you to greater success than I had.

Leon's Full Service
131 E Ponce De Leon Ave
Decatur, GA 30030-2513
(404) 687-0500


  1. Great review.
    I love Leon's. It's almost perfect.
    I am going again tomorrow night.
    Beef Brisket = Yum. Perfect winter meal.

  2. Alright! A positive review. Well done. I've only had a fry, a sip of bacon bourbon, and a Guinness at Leon's. All were good, however.

  3. love it. Dont forget Miles also won best bartender in ATL this year at Taste of Atlanta in a contest set up by H&F partner G.B. Also, it doesnt hurt that they have macedonian wine on the menu...and that they carry Corsair Artisan Distillery Products!

  4. Looks like we've got another reason to visit the big city, Pa!

  5. I rarely need an excuse to go to Decatur. Good food, great beer, and wine. I like the concept of the wine place there (with the automatic wine by the taste), but a great wine bar with pours, conversation, etc. would be great...

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  7. Great review! I spend many a weekend night at the bar at Leons. Great beers and a fantastic staff!

    Joe, good call on wanting a wine bar in Decatur. I'm a beer nerd and know little about wine, but I think it'd make a great fit. And I'm sad to say that the one you mentioned that served wine automatically - Tastings - has recently closed. So yeah, all the more reason for something new!

  8. SOB, once you figure out levitation and this site goes public, let's use the earnings and open a proper wine and beer bar. I'm sure it will all happen soon.

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